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Welcome to the World of Home Education and Learning Without School!

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!

Setting up the Homeschool

By Beverley Paine

Until my children were in their teens our home looked a lot like a kindergarten or preschool, with plenty of open storage, lots of cushions, display shelves and the artefacts of learning littered on walls, windows and tables. Life was busy and comfortable, with an emphasis on easy access to materials and resources to encourage motivation and independence.

Your home doesn't have to look like a classroom, but it does help to have areas set aside for working, for craft projects, for art explorations and for quiet study or comfortable shared reading. We used our dining room table for most of our 'lessons' and it wasn't until our children were in their teens that they decided to use their personal desks for study purposes. We found our open plan house perfect for homeschooling. Most families report that the family room becomes the learning hub of the house. However, homeschooling spills into every room, the garden, the community and the environment every day - unlike school it isn't restricted to one place.

Below are some ideas for setting up your homeschool as a place where learning happens naturally and easily (excerpt from Learning Materials for the Homeschool , available from www.alwayslearningbooks.com.au )

If, like many homeschooling families, you find yourself suddenly educating your children at home after many frustrating years in the school system you may not feel confident about your ability to provide adequate resources and materials to encourage successful learning. It's not a good idea to rush out and spend a lot of money on homeschooling supplies. A collection built up over a steady period of time will prove more useful, as you evaluate your learning program and your children's learning styles and needs. Plus, you'll be surprised as you look down each list how many of these resources and materials you already have at home. Most people don't recognise the measuring cups in the kitchen drawer as maths equipment; the bubble bath in the bathroom as science resource; or the sticky clay in the garden bed as a valuable art supply... Life is full of resources and materials for the homeschooling family to use! If you're like me you'll find that the acquisition of new materials will spark interest in creative learning activities, or motivate your children to investigate and explore new areas of learning. The introduction of new materials can also inject new energy into tired learning tasks.

Resource

Use

•  low shelves

allow easy access for children and leave walls free open for displaying art work, etc

•  cupboards

for storing materials and games not in constant use

•  large rug

comfortable areas encourage activity - children are definitely rug-rats!

•  bean bags and floor cushions

for cosy shared reading and for your comfort when playing on the floor with the children; can be used a game props

•  labelled storage containers

these help children find resources quickly and encourage independence; use pictures and colour coding for labels

•  lots of wall space

to display framed or unframed artwork - nothing encourages creative activity more than genuine appreciation

•  desk or table to work on

for study or lessons, craft activities or science experiments

•  a shelf or small table

for displaying finished projects; temporary storage for on-going activities or unfinished projects

•  display shelf

for the artefacts of learning. you may need more than one, or even a display cabinet - children collect everything, from rocks to rubber balls! Rotate collections regularly. Seasonal displays or natural history collections are always popular.

•  access to the kitchen

there are zillions of interesting things in a kitchen to inspire a young learner, or budding chef - make the kitchen an attractive place to hang out

•  private areas for each child

solitude and privacy is essential to the healthy development of self esteem

•  book shelves

for fiction and reference books, art and craft resources, science equipment, maths manipulatives, games, storage and display.

•  play equipment with soft fall mulch under

this needn't be expensive or elaborate - a plank on bricks, a crate for climbing on or in, a tyre swing hanging from a tree...

•  paved area outside

great for chalking on; space for big science experiments, sunny day art projects, wood working projects

•  grassy area

for ball games, group games, picnics

•  children's garden

every child needs a garden of their own! See Society and Environment section for more details

•  vegetable garden

growing food offers unlimited learning in just about every curriculum area!

•  desk diary and or calendar

staying organised; learning months and days, seasons, holidays

•  musical instruments

see Arts section for more details

•  travel games

there are zillions of absorbing activities you can in the car to relieve boredom and extend learning

•  board and card games

an incredible amount of learning in every area of the curriculum occurs during play, especially with structured games; play with your children for double the fun and learning outcomes!

•  computer and peripherals

not absolutely essential but becoming an integral part of life and society

•  computer games and learning programs

there are many educational programs and games but don't underestimate the learning inherent in all games; avoid 'addiction' by setting strict time limits for all computer activities

•  the Internet

gateway to learning - huge learning resource; publish own websites; stay in touch and make new friends with email

•  library cards for each child

absolutely essential! Make going to the library a weekly - without fail - routine

•  typewriter or computer

takes the tedium out of writing for some writers; learn how to present writing and projects to a publishable standard; improve spelling and grammar with checking function

•  books, books and more books - your own personal library!

you can't really have enough; books in every room on every imaginable subject! Forget about text books, buy accessible books written by or about people working in the field you are interested in; nothing beats having your own library for finding elusive answers to intriguing questions.

•  how-to books

available in every area of life: look for illustrated books with clear directions and instructions. Get busy doing - it's the fastest and most efficient way to learn.

•  reference books

encyclopaedias, thesaurus, dictionaries, atlases, etc

•  newspapers, newsletters and magazines

have regular read aloud sessions; encourage participation - letters, submissions, etc; subscribe to quality children's magazines

•  student workbooks

not absolutely essential but a few of these never go astray; most families concentrate on reading, writing and arithmetic to cover the 'basics'. Select quality student work books and text books and remember to chat to other homeschooling parents about their experiences. There is a good chance you'll be able to pick up used books in good condition for a fraction of new price. Some children love using text and work books while others find them tedious and some children actually find they hamper the learning process. Get to know what kind of learner you have - explore and discover their unique learning styles and you'll save money in the long run.
There are many homeschooling businesses supplying quality educational text books, student work books, online lessons and computer programs tailored to the unique needs of the homeschool learning environment. These are much better in many instances than learning materials written for classroom teachers.
Pick up, or collect, catalogues from companies supplying books to schools. I did this for many years and used them to brainstorm games and activities for my children, creating our own worksheets and games, often from recycled materials.

•  books about learning, home education and child development

you'll have more questions than you can ever find answers for and will rely on your own and others' experience more than those from the 'experts', but it's reassuring to have a few books to guide you now and then. There are some brilliant authors who write solely on the topic of home education, most of whom taught their own children at home. And there are excellent books about facilitating the learning process at home and in the classroom; learning styles, multiple intelligences, how to study, etc. Don't forget books about different educational approaches, like Steiner, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, natural learning, etc

•  curriculum guides

provide an insight into how institutionalised education is set up - great for learning edu-speak for those times you have to deal with the educational authority in your state. Most are designed to reflect universally accepted stages of child development, and therefore offer some useful content. Usually 'outcomes' oriented, with examples of learning.

•  family video collection

favourite movies, educational documentaries, home made videos

•  audio-visual equipment

VCR, slide projector, cameras, stereo, several cassette players

•  basic office supplies

keep accessible to encourage independence - see Language section for more details

•  basic calculating tools

such as rulers, calculators, calendars, watches, clocks, scales - see Mathematics section for more details

•  art/craft supplies

see Arts section for more details

•  religious instruction

as per personal preference

•  science kits and basic lab equipment

see Science section for more details

•  manipulative materials

blocks, Legos, etc - see Maths section for details

•  community activities

Scouts, Landcare & Environmental groups, historical societies, bushwalking, etc

•  sporting activities

soccer, football, cricket, hockey, etc

•  r egular classes

dance, gymnastics, art, martial arts, etc

•  home education support group

support groups, e-mail lists, excursions, field trips, camps and other gatherings

•  telephone

this handy piece of home equipment links you to the world - call an expert, an information service, a group, company: use the information that's out there in the community...

Learning Materials for the Homeschool is an inexpensive Practical Homeschooling Series booklet by Beverley Paine and is available from Always Learning Books. It has sections for each subject area as well as valuable tips and advice on how to prepare the learning environment for your children.

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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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