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The Best Place to Start... A Defining Task!
Beverley Paine, Jan 2015Thinking about homeschooling but not sure exactly what it is or how it happens?
It can be easily confused with distance education, what used to known as 'school of the air' or 'correspondence school'. In both of these, the child is enrolled in a school and the school and teachers are responsible for delivering the education.
It's not surprising that many families begin with these thoughts because this form of education is often all we've ever experienced. In addition, the authorities that regulate home education and register students usually reinforce this schooled image of education. The practice of home education can be very different to what happens in a classroom and reflects what we, the educating parents and our children, need and value.
By definition, home education happens outside of schools and is where the parent takes responsibility for determining and delivering an educational program appropriate to their child's individual needs.
How I define homeschooling usually involves talking more about how it happens in practice because because essentially home educating looks and is different for every family.
Hence, the best place to start is not by looking for answers to the question 'what is home education' is not from others but yourself. Ask yourself - and perhaps your child if he or she is old enough - "what is education, what do we want and need to learn, and why?"
Take some time to define 'education' and explore what the concept means to you.
Work out what you want education to deliver in terms of goals: goals for this week, this month, for the rest of this year and perhaps until your child reaches adulthood.
This thinking task might keep you busy for at least a week - that's how long I spent pondering it way back in 1985 when we first learned that it was possible for our child to educated outside of school.
Defining what education means for you and your family will give you a basis from which to develop a foundation upon which to grow an educational framework tailored to your children's individual needs and your unique family situation. It is a solid place from which to start looking for home educating methods, approaches, and resources.
And it will save you money as well as effort: the plethora of resources and materials on offer for home educating families, most emotively marketed can be overwhelming.
Some families considering home education think they need a homeschool curriculum package. There are businesses that offer this, usually with online content. The parent downloads structured lessons and is told which books and materials are needed to purchase and use. Work completed is usually marked and graded by the parent.
However, most families find developing their own learning plan more satisfying and better targets their child's individual needs.
Creating your own learning plan isn't as difficult or onerous as it first appears. And there are dozens of online support groups with experienced families ready to offer tips, links to resources and help with putting together your application for approval as a home educator.
The best part about developing your own learning plan is that it reflects and is built around YOUR definition of education, not someone's else idea of what it should be.
Defining what education is and means in the context of your family is the first step to building a unique and wonderful learning experience that builds towards your goals.
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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
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