Homeschooling in Practice: What Homeschooling Means for the Parent
an excerpt from the introduction to Getting Started with Homeschooling: Practical Considerations for Parents of School Aged Children
For many families education usually only becomes an issue when the eldest child reaches four years of age and enters preschool or kindergarten. Child care may have already introduced some children and parents to educational programs. However, there are a growing number of families who plan the education of their children from birth, deliberately seeking out information about educational alternatives congruent with their life philosophies.
Most parents delegate the responsibility for the education of their children to schools, and then become involved to lesser or greater degrees with their children's school life. As a parent reclaiming the primary responsibility for educating your children, and looking at the various educational alternatives available today, including home schooling, you will need to clearly understand what your role will be in your children's education process. No longer will the direction, method or content of education be decided by others. To feel confident in your home schooling learning program you need to determine the direction, method and content yourself, in consultation with your children.
This involves critically discussing your views, attitudes and ideas about what education is and what it means, not just for society, but for you and your family personally. You might ask yourself the question "How does learning happen?", or consider how and when your children learn best, or what your expectations of education are.
You may have already put a lot of thinking into these areas, and determined what you don't like about the education system, or perhaps society in general. However strongly you may feel about these things, negative attitudes impede the learning process. If this is the case, you will now need to create a more positive view of what you want educationally for your family, focussing on the benefits of what you can achieve, rather than what is not happening elsewhere.
This will naturally encompass your family values, and your understanding of how learning occurs - not just for children, but also for yourself. It is important to spend considerable time not only thinking, but writing down, your thoughts. These will form the basis of the home school learning program. This may take some time! A few discussions over a week, with time in between to mull over your thoughts, is helpful. Remember to involve the children, and other important caregivers, in the discussions.
The importance of this process cannot be emphasised enough. Only when you clearly understand what you know, think and feel about education can you confidently determine the direction, or the goals, of your children's education. And you need to know these goals, both long and short term, in order to determine the methods, or ways, you will set out to achieve them.
Consistency is an important element in home education, and is achieved by thoroughly understanding your perception of how learning happens and what you hope to achieve.
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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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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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