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Friday, a typical day

by Beverley, Oct 1999:

I hope no one minds me sharing my day with Thomas. I often get asked by people new to home schooling what we do all day. If I were to write a daily homeschooling journal it would look something like this. Thomas is nearly 12.

Friday is the day Thomas's brother Roger does work experience, so Thomas and I enjoy a day of being together alone. I like this day because Thomas spends a lot of time chatting to me (endlessly chatting to me!). Thomas seems to need time alone with me every so often to talk over the things he thinks about. Neither of my other two children have done this, so I see it as idiosyncratic. I am happy to oblige this need as it binds us closer and is building a firm friendship.

We are the proud owners of a new table tennis table and Thomas's enthusiasm seems to know no bounds, despite the torn ligament in my ankle! We played five games after a long warm up. I am a bit sketchy on all the rules of table tennis, and Thomas was keen to absorb every single one I could remember. He likes his world defined clearly - rules are important. Is this an element of the need to be in control? I know he feels on safer ground when he knows the rules, and it certainly gave him a edge over his siblings when they came home from work. I can see the pleasure he gets from 'teaching' them something they don't know. And from being better at something than there are.

This kind of controlled competition seems to produce a lot of growth and confidence in Thomas. He loves showing off when he knows he is capable and confident of his ability.

Before we played table tennis I had some gardening to do - planting capsicum and tomato seedlings. Thomas was happy to be involved, making suggestions and quickly carrying out my instructions, adding a suggestion or two of his own. In the end he did most of the work as my ankle began hurting and I needed to rest it. He fetched the stakes for the tomatoes and while I hammered them in he brought compost to the garden bed and dug it in around the stakes. Next he gathered some two litre drink bottles which I cut the bottoms from to make irrigation reservoirs. Thomas dug holes and buried these just deep enough to prevent mulch from falling in. Then he planted all of the seedlings, and watered them in well.

Enthused by this activity Thomas declared he wanted to make a miniature garden. But first it needed to be planned carefully on paper. I wasn't allowed to see his plan until it was ready. Thomas has begun independent reading and is at the stage of writing where he is confident to 'have a go' and spell independently, not needing me to spell each word for him. He has suddenly lost that need for perfection, and is keen to practice on his own.

He soon ran out of ideas for plants in his garden, so we went outside to look around the garden and also in our plant nursery (we have a shadehouse and small nursery as we grow for the Trees For Life Free Tree Scheme and also shrubs and trees for our own property). Thomas picked out three pots, and then went inside to write the names down on his plan. I read what he had written - it is interesting translating a persons's first efforts at writing! And important to get it right!

After that I read the final four chapters in the book I am reading aloud, then it was time for more table tennis.

After lunch Thomas took his turn on the computer and asked if I would watch. The game is complicated and soon had me lost. I went off to do my email and write some letters. After about two hours Thomas emerged from his game looking flustered and frustrated. The game had not gone well, with Thomas needing to work hard at the strategic elements in the game. This is a war game, with many elements, that is played in real time, so that when he is off in one part of the game things are happening elsewhere. To win he needs to build a strong foundation and home base which is guarded well. But defence alone doesn't win the game!

He worked off his 'mood' by playing more table tennis. My ankle was just about done in by now and we sat down and watched five minutes of the Wiggles, which we had heard about and seen the artefacts of in the shops but never seen on TV. We talked about the overacting, and why it was necessary.

Then April arrived home and dominated her brother, followed closely by Robin and Roger. The kids made dinner together for us adults, while we relaxed. Then we went down to the table tennis table again!

And that was our day. Busy but relaxed.

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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

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