Organising Your Natural Learning Day
© Beverley Paine, October 2007
Kelly wrote: "I would like to move from what we have to natural learning. It seems to me to be the way that a human was meant to learn about the world. Real life experience. I do not know exactly how to begin to get there. I feel certain that we will need some sort of daily structure as well... How can I begin? What kind of structure or planning do you incorporate into your days if any? What do you suggest to your children when they are asking "What can I do?"
The quickest way I know how to answer those questions is to ask 'how do I learn', 'what the conditions under which I learn best', 'what am I passionately interested in' (or if you don't think you have a passion for anything - ask 'what delights me', 'what can't I put down or stop doing without regret if I am called away'). Then apply these questions to your children... how they learn, what conditions, interests, etc. Do this diligently and continue to ask these questions every day and you'll be well on your way to exploring and enjoying a learning naturally lifestyle.
Daily structure... That's another easy one to answer. Ask yourself, what is the most important thing I need to teach my children while they are young? It all boils down to a few basic survival skills. You need to help them learn how to take care of themselves, those around them, their environment...
You need to help them learn how to find and use clean air, clean water, clean food. You need to impress on them the meaning and importance of the 'golden rule' and how to apply it assertively in their lives. The importance of re-use, repair and recycle. You need to help them develop a work ethic by allowing them to participate fully in family and community life from an early age, giving them responsibilities as their abilities grow.
Keeping all this in mind you build your daily structure around what is important: health, hygiene, chores, play, rest, relaxation, exercise, talking, laughing, singing, sharing the wonder of human creativity and exploring the wonder of nature together.
If you do this well your children will learn everything that is in the school curriculum.
I found that recording helped me 'see' the learning across the curriculum that occurred everyday in a learning naturally lifestyle. As I recorded I taught by example the value of recording and its place in human society. It was my job, not my children's, although I roped them occasionally and asked them to put something down on paper. Give it a try and see if that helps to reassure you that no matter what your children are doing they are learning what they need to.
Read some of the books by John Holt, or if you can't get hold of them, google his name - there are hundreds of quotes and some excellent interviews with him on the internet. Another great read is The Continuum Concept, and anything by Jan Hunt or Sandra Dodd. My own book, Learning in the Absence of Education, is a collection of articles written over a ten year period during which we made the transition from school-at-home to learning naturally. Join my online support forum for Australian unschoolers.
But most of all learn to trust that your children know how to learn naturally and that your role is one of mentoring, showing by example, guiding them, facilitating opportunities and providing resources - AND, most importantly of all - being a caring and responsible PARENT. Let go of the need to play teacher and become a learner alongside your children. That way home education will avoid becoming a chore and remain a delight for you all.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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