by Beverley Paine, May 2005
When our eldest was seven she was given a guinea pig. More guinea pigs followed, as they do! We’ve had guinea pigs continuously for 17 years, but my favourite pets are our poultry. One of our sons decided he wanted chickens soon after the guinea pigs took up residence. We discovered he was a ‘natural’ with birds. It’s uncanny how they seem to recognise him as a friend and don’t panic or fly away when he approaches. They allow him to scoop them up, and happily feed from his hand, or perch on his arm or head. He’s never lost his touch with this feathered creatures and I’m pleased to say, I’ve finally learned to relax enough around birds to enjoy the same kind of contact. Each morning I delight in hand feeding the chickens, often with them pecking at my feet, or jumping up onto my shoulders or arms to say hello. I can’t image life without our numerous pets.
We’re blessed to live in a rural environment and can add wild animals such as echidnas, kangaroos, possums, various lizards, frogs, tadpoles, birds and more to the animals we delight in each day. A few days ago our eldest son found an echidna snouting around the base of the persimmon tree and to my complete joy I learned how to stroke one of these wonderful animals without hurting myself. Touching wild animals is exhilarating. I’ve watched our confidence around animals grow over the years, as well as our deep respect for all living creatures. Caring for the environment they inhabit flows naturally from this respect. Some people may think our property untidy, with twigs, logs and weeds invading every part of the garden, but we see them as habitats for our many, welcome friends.
I can’t imagine home education without pets, from the tadpole aquarium on the kitchen bench to Guinea Pig Hilton over by the poultry yard. We also enjoy the odd conventional pet such as our neighbours’ cats checking out whatever the magpies have left after their daily tid-bits, and Tiger and Calli, our daugther's dogs, when they visit. Having pets definitely added to the richness of our home learning experiences. We’ve learned so much from having pets and caring about the wild animals with which we share this little pocket of paradise!
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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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