HomeAboutAdvertiseBooksResource DirectoryCurriculumArticlesContactKids PagesFollow Beverley Paine, The Educating Paine, on Facebook



Tap into Beverley's
Educating Parent
experience through her books

You are being redirected to Always Learning Books where you can purchase Beverley Paine's books on how to home educate your children

 


Download your free copy

Download Beverley's free The Educating Parent Resource Directory for information about getting started, support groups, blogs and an extensive list of books about homeschooling and unschooling



Want to learn how to write your
own education plans to suit
your unique children's
individual learning needs?

 

Looking for quality curriculum
and teaching tips ?

 

Over 1000 reassuring and
informative articles to help
build your confidence as an
Educating Parent

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook or Yahoo online groups.

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!

What is Unschooling?

© Beverley Paine

The practice of unschooling is considered by many to be completely different from homeschooling, in that learning at home departs radically from the image of learning in the traditional classroom sense, with children concentrating learning through passive reception of knowledge and skills through the use of subject text books.

"Unschooling isn't a method of instruction, it's a different way of looking at learning." Linda Wyatt

Unschooling is taking the process of 'education' out of learning - allowing learning to occur in a natural way, led by interest, passion, need, want, desire, to satisfy some immediate demand or long term goal. The essential ingredient in all of this is that learning becomes personally meaningful to the learner. This doesn't take the 'teacher' or 'mentor' out of the picture - home learning, in whatever form it takes, is a family affair. Decisions made about learning activities are generally cooperatively decided after consultation and shared brainstorming sessions. Sometimes learning becomes an intensively personal affair; at other times the whole family will pursue an interest together with avid interest.

One of the features of unschooling is the absence of rigid time tables. This isn't to say routine is abandoned. Even the most seemingly 'disorganised' home learning situations have a hidden and stable routine to each and every day - family sanity depends on this! Priorities are set according to family need and resources allocated accordingly. The greatest pleasure of an unschooling regime is being free to drop everything and really concentrate on a child's burst of wonder as he or she discovers some new concept, some new piece of learning. Or becoming intimately engaged in their play, watching the abundance of learning that naturally flows from such interactive social play - the perfect picture of learning scaffolding.

Unschoolers tend to start from where they are at - right where they are, in the present moment. Each and every moment is full of learning opportunities and leads on to the next. The trick is not to get carried away by the excitement that presents itself, and to keep activities down to a level suitable for your children. Over stimulation is as damaging to a developing mind as overly passive activities. Take your time, take deep breaths! Recognise there is a lifetime of learning ahead for each and every one of us!

...and another article I penned on the same subject...

"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child." George Bernard Shaw

I am always satisfied and amazed to see my children pursuing new knowledge. It's a very healthy and natural things for young children and my wish was always to preserve the intensity of their curiosity displayed during every waking hour. I didn't give much thought to school back in those early years, but as it loomed closer I began to examine the purpose and outcomes of school education. It seemed that schools, also keen to see children in pursuit of knowledge, but in a rigidly defined way. There was no way the children could have any input into the curriculum, and even the parents seemed shut out. This disturbed me greatly and Robin and I began to look at alternative schools, and then finally alternatives to school!

In his acceptance speech for the New York City Teacher of the Year award, John Gatto said, "Schools were designed by Horace Mann. . .and others to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population." As my personal experience as a home educator grew, and I reflected on my experiences as a school student and how it had limited the way I thought about education and life, I found myself at odds with the state definition of education and at one stage refused to use the word, preferring the term 'learning' instead. 'Education' has, to me, become a fairly meaningless term, bandied about with scant regard to accountability. "

The traditional curriculum is based on the assumption that children must be taught knowledge because they will never feel inclined to pursue it themselves. Any one could see that that, when given a choice, most children prefer not to do school work and chose instead to play or engage in an activity that has immediate interest or satisfies some personal goal. In this, they are not like most adults I know. In school, knowledge is defined as school-'work' - and no one in our society seems to want to work - it is something we are coerced or bribed or forced to do. It's easy for teachers and educators to conclude that children don't like to acquire knowledge, which is why schooling became a method of controlling children and forcing them to do what the bureaucracy considered beneficial for them. Parents, eager for their children to better themselves in a competitive workforce, went along with this move, trusting that the 'educated' educators knew best...

Most children don't like textbooks, workbooks, quizzes, rote memorization, subject schedules, and lengthy periods of physical inactivity. It's not hard to see why. Few adults enjoy such tasks, and exert considerable will power or entice themselves with bribes to study subjects that have no immediate meaningful relevance.

Believe me, the work of a school teacher is vastly different from that of a homeschooling parent. In nearly all schools, a teacher is hired to deliver a ready-made, standardized, year-long curriculum to 25 or more age-segregated children who are confined in a building, often one room, all day. The teacher is restricted to using a standard curriculum - not because it is the best approach for encouraging an individual child to learn the things that need to be known - but because it is a convenient way to handle and track the progress of large numbers of children. For decades we've been reading about the results of the application of this standardised curriculum on our children and the bleak stories never change - a few bright lights in an otherwise downward spiral of reducing levels of literacy and numeracy.

Although it's easy in retrospect to see the differences between the school environment and the home, many parents begin homeschooling under the impression that homeschooling is a kind of variation on the traditional public school curriculum, only delivered in the home. They tell themselves that it is the classroom, the social life and peer group pressure, the lack of resources, etc that reduce schooling to ineffectiveness in their children's cases... Goals, objectives, set tasks, assignments and evaluation take centre stage, as they do in school. The winners in the homeschooling boom must surely be the textbook and curriculum publishing companies who go to great lengths to assure us that we must buy their products if we expect our children to be properly educated. It can be difficult for a new homeschooling family to think that an alternative approach is possible.

One alternative approach is "unschooling", also known as "natural learning", "experienced-based learning", or "independent learning", or 'auto-didactic' learners. It's catching on fast, because it makes sense. What is impossible to achieve in the classroom becomes a successful approach in the home and community based learning environments. It's empowering, not only to the children who accept more responsibility for the direction and content of their education, but also the parents.

Before I talk about what I think unschooling is, I feel I need to say a few words about what it isn't. Unschooling isn't a recipe, and therefore it can't be explained in recipe terms. It is impossible to give unschooling directions for people to follow so that it can be tried for a week or so to see if it works. Unschooling isn't a method; it's a way of looking at children and at life. It is based on trust that parents and children will find the paths that work best for them - without depending on educational institutions, publishing companies, or experts to tell them what to do. Even though I read this in John Holt's books before I began homeschooling, it took me years to assimilate this notion, and even longer to fully trust that my children will learn what they need to learn, when, where and how.

Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen. Finally, since many unschooling families have definite plans for tertiary education, unschooling does not even mean that children will never take a course in any kind of a school, or use a textbook, or take a class...

What, then, is unschooling?

It's more than following one's interests; filling the day with play and chores and work and conversation. It's staying busy and focussed on the important things in life - building relationships, between self and others, self and the world, self and ecology, self and community. It's learning how to be grown-up (something many adults need to revisit!) and responsible,. It's looking after oneself, one's environment, family, friends and community, the world and all it's creatures. It's learning how to use resources sensibly and sustainably. It's simply living.

We've found that when we follow our interests - and our interests inevitably lead to science, literature, history, mathematics, music, all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as "subjects" - we acquire many skills and retain knowledge long after the activity or passion has waned. I compare this to my years of learning subjects at school, and how little I remember from those passive lessons.

A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating. This is the key to learning - any learning. There is an energy that comes from this that you can't buy with a curriculum. Children do real things all day long, and in a trusting and supportive home environment. Doing 'real' things invariably brings about healthy mental development and valuable knowledge, ultimately giving rise to insight and the acquisition of wisdom. In our home I've learned that it is natural for children to read, write, play with numbers, learn about society, find out about the past, think, wonder and do all those things that society so unsuccessfully attempts to force upon them in the context of schooling.

Very f ew of us get out of bed in the morning in the mood for a 'learning experience'. I'd like to hope that most of us get up feeling in the mood for life. Children always do so - unless they are ill or life has been made overly stressful or confusing for them. I've had my doubts; times when it's difficult to determine if anything important is actually going on. Natural learning has often been described as a little like watching a garden grow. No matter how closely we examine the garden, it is difficult to verify that anything is happening at that particular moment. But as the season progresses, we can see that much has happened, quietly and naturally. Children pursue life, and in doing so, pursue knowledge. They need adults to trust in the inevitability of this very natural process, and to offer what assistance they can.

Parents come to me with their unschooling questions about fulfilling state requirements and record-keeping. I found that writing down, in a logical way, ALL of the activities my children pursue - those that they initiate themselves and those that I ask them to do, from every area of life, gives me great confidence. It's easy to translate everyday activities into educational jargon with a little thought - toothbrushing becomes Health and Hygiene, and so on. When I fill out the paperwork required for homeschooling in our state, I briefly describe, in the space provided, what we are currently doing, and the general intent of what we plan to do for the coming year. I don't include long lists of books or describe any of the step-by-step skills associated with a curriculum. For example, under English/Language Arts, I mentioned that our son's favourite "subject" is building websites. I say a few words about the sites he's designed, the software he uses, and how he's learning HTML, and that he is in contact with other website designers through the Internet. I mentioned that he reads a great deal and uses our computer for whatever writing he happens to do. I added that as he added sites to his portfolio I noticed his presentation, layout, functional design, spelling and language convention skills improved considerably.

Homeschooling is a unique opportunity for each family to do whatever makes sense for the growth and development of their children. If we have a reason for using a curriculum and traditional school materials, we are free to use them. They are not a universally necessary or required component of our homeschooling programs, either educational or legally. I've found that allowing curricula, textbooks, and tests to be the defining, driving force behind the education of a child is a hindrance in the home as much as in the school - not only because it interferes with learning, but because it interferes with trust.

Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's mentor and friend, said:

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less "showily". Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself... Teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences."

Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity to step away from systems and methods, and to develop independent ideas out of actual experiences, where the child is truly in pursuit of knowledge, not the other way around.

For links to all the information you'd ever need on unschooling, natural learning, and self-education see the rest of our articles in the index, or visit:

There are also dozens of unschooling and natural learning blogs listed on Homeschool Australia's Australian Blogs page.

I recently wrote this about unschooling...

Redefine work, redefine learning, redefine education. Kick the school out of those definitions. That's un-schooling.

A typical day is busy, constructive, interesting but it won't look anything like school learning, it will look like life.

If spending hours on computers or playing video games etc bugs you, learn to see the learning inherent and embedded in those activities. If it still bugs you, offer something way more interested and tailored to your child's abilities and interests to lure him or her away from the device. Get busy, get constructive, imaginative, moving - maybe fill up a few weeks with excursions leaving the devices at home. Give it a try, see what happens.

People have this notion that children learn over there, on their own, working through stuff that is given to them to do. That's school. People have this notion that unschooling children learn over there, working through stuff they want to do or are interested in. That's still school. Unschooling is simply learning, people learning because people are living and people live and learn together, off each other, from each other simply because we're social creatures and that's how we're built. Unschooling is learning together. It's fun, it's interesting but we really do have to redefine work, learning and education to get the hang of it.

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you?
Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating
offering encouragement and reassurance to families
wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

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.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."
Vanessa

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"
Davina

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."
Lesley

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"
Louisa

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful."
Gythaa

A gift of any size, small or large, is greatly appreciated.
By contributing, even as little as $1, you are helping to inform, encourage, reassure and support parents live closer, happier lives with their children.

I am currently giving this site a much needed facelift!
If you experience difficultiess accessing any page can you
please email me the link? Thank you.

 

The information on this website is of
a general nature only and is not intended
as personal or professional advice.
This site merges and incorporates
'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

Advertise with The Educating Parent

cover of Getting Started with Homeschooling by Beverley Paine DIY Getting Started with Home Schooling Pack
Beverley Paine's best selling comprehensive common sense manual detailing how to write your own curriculum tailored to your children's educational needs
PLUS 9 of Beverley's popular practical home educating series booklets!

Great value $60
Natural Learning
and Unschooling Pack

Each Pack contains a copy of the following:
Natural Learning
Natural Learning Answers
A5 or A4
Learning Naturally Diary
Learning Maths Naturally
A Sample Approved Natural Learning Program and Review

Only $29 or $33
Select A4 or A5 Diary

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

sign up to receive access to all of the workshops at the Australian Homeschooling Summit 15th to 27th May 2017

Stocking all of Beverley Paine's, the educating parent's, books!

30% discount off ReadyEd Publications for homeschoolers until 31st December 2016

Find out more about Brain Builder by clicking here!

Link to Educate and Assist for home educating familiesEducating the World One Student at a Time AOIA Online Education

Supervised school of distance education

click to go to the Sunshine Collective providing ‘Brilliant Boxes’ to families of pre-schoolers and primary school aged children, throughout Australia

Belinda Cowie Whisper Waters Educational Resource for Home Educating FamiliesSTEM tutoring

Click here to go to Home Learn cover the 'core' with room to explore! Sydney Dance/Sports Classes for home educating students

Maths Mentality helping parents understand primary school mathematics

 

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!


Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us

Sitemap

What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Other: just for fun, general, etc Children's Pages
     

animated smiling faceThank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
Site Map
. Text on this site CC License: BY-NC-ND , Images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2017.