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Learning to Listen Tips

© Beverley Paine Jun 2004

Learning to be quiet was the hardest part of being a home educating mum... I found, over time, that the less I talked, the more my children would come and tell me about what was happening in their lives, their thoughts, feelings, stories and ideas. This encouraged them to actively think about what they are doing, and to problem solve, and we began to have more conversations, rather than me 'telling' them what, how or when to do something. A friend reminded me that this is also important when the children are reading - to resist from questioning them all the time about what they are reading or how they felt about the story, but to let them share their reactions, understandings and thoughts in their own time, and in a manner of their choosing.

Pronouncing my words clearly was also important. As an asthmatic person with chronic sinus problems I didn't realise I wasn't speaking clearly until my children started spelling words such as 'thank' without the 'n' - they simply couldn't hear the 'n' when I said it. In addition to fixing my health problems I made a point of making sure the children had more frequent and regular access to other people, especially adults, and I turned on the radio during the day.

Saying the person's name and making eye contact when wanting to tell someone something is also critical to being heard. All too often I found that the other person only got the last half of the sentence and usually responded with 'what?'. This was incredibly helpful in our family in getting rid of a lot of our frustration experienced when trying to communicate with each other.

Don't talk through walls. It not only muffles the sound but you often end up needing to repeat half, if not all, of what you said!

Are you repeating yourself, often within moments of having said something, perhaps even in the same sentence? Then chances are you subconsciously feel that you are not being heard. The other person may not understand the way you have phrased the words and is taking longer to make sense of what you have said. Try rewording what you want to say. Sometimes we repeat ourselves for emphasis - think up more descriptive words to use that add emphasis naturally; for example, instead of ran, use bolted - it is much more dramatic!

Use the most appropriate tone. If you are making a statement, don't say it using a questioning tone. Or vice versa. Children can be easily confused and not respond, not sure if you want an answer. We need to model building conversations with our children by having conversations with them as well as explaining some of the ways we can improve communication.

Don't beg for responses you don't need by adding words such as 'right?' at the end of sentences. Many people feel insecure if the other person doesn't respond to something they have said and so all sorts of 'tags' have been added to the ends of statements, effectively turning them into questions.

Most all though, pay attention when your children speak. Listen as you would to your best friend. They are important people with lots of interesting things to say and their thoughts and questions guide you as their teacher, mentor and friend.

Take time to talk with your children every day. Not only does this help to build close relationships but it builds vocabulary, listening and speaking skills.


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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.

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

"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!"

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

"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!"

"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."

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.

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!

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'.

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