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Why it helps to have a home ed learning plan...

Beverley Paine, Feb 2012

There are so many areas in my life where I attempt to do something and then feel disappointed in the result. We're DIY people and my husband prefers to just start building. First we talk about what we want and then he starts building, collecting what he needs along the way. Helping and watching him frustrate me enormously: he frequently needs to stop work because he doesn't have the appropriate materials on hand and because that frustrates him he often takes short cuts which means he needs to rejig the original plan and what we end up with isn't exactly what we want.

There's not a plan in sight. Or a list of materials needed. Or a budget. It's all made up as we go along.  Looking back it's amazing what we've accomplished. Walking around in the beautiful house, around this amazing garden... it's all wow! Ask anyone that visits. 

But what they don't see is the confusion, the arguments, the heartache, the disappointment, the many times the marriage has almost dissolved, the gradual loss of joy in doing what we love, being DIY people.

We did, however, follow a plan - which my husband drew himself - for both houses we've built. We had a list of building materials and specifications which I helped put together. This was needed to get council approval.

And I'm glad we did because both houses are sound and safe and that's important! But we also changed minor things as we built, adapting the plan to suit our growing understanding about our needs and what we want in a dwelling.

I know I would be much happier in our continuing DIY lifestyle if we drew up more plans on paper that would help guide us, track our thoughts and the changes we make along the way. It would assist me in feeling confident and optimistic, bring more enjoyment and satisfaction while doing the work.

Why am I writing about this? Because I see a parallel with home education. So many parents I have spoken to over the years express feeling lost or confused, not sure where they are heading or what resources to use, or what they want and need for their children educationally. Over time they settle into what works for them and their children, but the period of time spent getting there is fraught with self-doubt, confusion and in many cases, considerable expense on materials that are underused.

In 1995, after a decade of home education and half a dozen years of helping others begin this incredible learning journey, I started to write Getting Started with Homeschooling , which put on paper the approach I took that helped build my extraordinary confidence. In the first year of homeschooling I'd moved from a school-at-home approach to unschooling and natural learning, and by the time I finished writing Getting Started my youngest was age eight and enjoying learning naturally using a play and interest based approach to learning.

I believe I remained confident with this approach because every year I put down on paper my goals for his education and reaffirmed my beliefs about education: this was our natural learning curriculum. If anyone wanted to look at it they would see that I was covering what was expected by society from an educational program for a child of his developmental stage. This curriculum - my planning document - together with our haphazard recording regime - continued to strengthen my confidence in home education.

I did this not to please or satisfy others or solely for registration purposes, although I knew I was accountable to my children for their education and I felt confident our records could come in handy to justify our choice to home educate. But mostly I did it for myself.

I am firm believer in the planning process: dreaming, planning, gathering and using of resources, reflecting, tweaking, celebrating and reviewing the process and outcomes, reviewing. These happen continuously and concurrently, and I find it helps to jot a few notes down in my diary, take a few photos, and every once in a while read through our yearly plan to remind myself why we're educating our children this way.

What I love most about doing this is the freedom it gives us to be flexible. In the same way that understanding how the components in our house went together, as well as the nature of them, allowed us to tweak the design here and there as we built.

People think that natural learning and unschooling is unstructured, that it just 'happens': it doesn't. There are rhythms and routines that support the freedom we experience in this lifestyle. These don't magically appear, we work to create them by conscientious observation and reflection, noting what works and what doesn't and figuring out why. This the foundation upon which our confidence grows.

I find that if we plan our home education journeys well we can be open to enjoying whatever spontaneous opportunities arise. And one thing you can count on - there are usually lots of those!

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

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 supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since 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. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

3 ESSENTIAL STEP BY STEP GUIDES

Getting Started with
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PARENT WORKBOOKS

#1 Create Your
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let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration with part 1 of this getting started with home educating serioes of parent workbooks, Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

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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'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

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