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Choosing Homeschool Curriculum: What to Consider
© Beverley Paine 2011
How many children will you be home educating?
I began our homeschooling journey with a five-week-old baby on my lap, a preschooler beside me at the table and my daughter, aged six, opposite. We began in a traditional 'school-at-home' way, loosely based on our daughter's experiences at Kindergarten and my vague memories of my time as a child at primary school. As the weeks passed our approach changed; my preschooler lost interest in 'playing school' and was happier playing with his toys nearby while I supervised our daughter's lessons. The baby was forever in my lap - that was the only way I could keep him content!
As the months passed and my confidence grew we began to use a more activity-based unit study approach to learning although we continued to use graded student work-books in maths, spelling and grammar. Over a period of years we slowly relaxed into an unschooling, then a natural learning approach, but only because I could see that it suited all of my children and they were learning so much more than I could possibly teach them using a more traditional approach. At times we went back to using school books to cover particular areas of learning or if the children expressed a desire to use them, which they often did, including taking formal tests!
Larger families sometimes find a more structured approach helps, particularly with tracking the progress of individual children. Using unit studies is an excellent aid to organising and managing learning at home as it is ideally suited to teaching multiple ages. Older children tutor younger children and also enjoy mucking about with less challenging educational activities. Younger children add an element of excitement and fun which is often missing in text-book based curricula. The social interaction and tutoring that occurs teaches cooperative behaviours, consideration and respect for others, and a host of other social skills and attitudes not often seen in classrooms of same-aged schooled children.
If you are home educating three or thirteen children there are always others in the home educating community ready to help you with advice and tips that will save you considerable hours of concern.
Homeschooling a single child can be more daunting, especially if the child is an extravert who loves being around other people. Typically this type of child isn't fussy about the ages of the children she mixes with: the more people and the greater variety the better! Homeschool groups and becoming involved in the local community generally answers her needs. The introverted child, however, will require more time and energy devoted to homeschooling activities by the parents. In addition to being parent, mentor, resource facilitator and teacher, the parent of the introverted single child will also become 'best friend'. A good support network for the parents is essential. Which brings me to my next point. How Much Time Do You Have Available?
See also the other articles in this Choosing Curriculum series:
Or purchase Beverley's inexpensive Practical Homeschooling Series booklet from Always Learning Books - over 40 pages of practical information explaining the different approaches as well as useful and helpful advice.
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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.
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
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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