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How to Create an Unschooling Learning Plan to Meet Registration Requirements

by Tamara Kidd, Nov 2013

The following is a response by Tamara to a request for help by an unschooling parent who had been given 6 months registration and who was experiencing difficulty meeting the recording requirements.

I'm a home educating parent to a daughter working through Stage 4 (year 7) in New South Wales at the moment. I follow her interest in drawing and 'wrap the curriculum' around that. It takes a little bit of effort for me to observe the outcomes being covered, making observational notes, but it means she doesn't have to do boring 'school work'.  

I keep a sample portfolio of work and it's very thin: mostly what they really want is 'boxes ticked' to say you've done work. They certainly don't have time to see all the work the child has actually done. I have a cardboard box with a lid and point to it saying "all the work is in there, and here (in this nice shiney plastic folder) is a sample of her work". The box gets pretty full after a year but that's me keeping everything!

People can contact me if they'd like a copy of MS Word documents of the proformas for the new NSW syllabus I've prepared and am happy to share. In NSW we don't do PDHPE or LOTE as they are not compulsory - we only have to do 6 out of the 8 subjects.

Anytime my daughter does anything that looks like one of the outcomes on the NSW syllabus I write down what activity she is doing and the date. That way I'm documenting her activities and dating them and that satisfies the record keeping and matches her activities to their outcomes.

Sometimes I write down an activity and simply write 'Week of 28/10/2013' as I made a note at the start of the week and it was an ongoing project. 

Anything and everything can be written down: for example, so say you're at the shops and you look at cans of tuna that's been caught in 'Dolphin friendly nets' and you talk about people wanting Tuna cheaply, using old fishing practices, and how in the past people didn't care so much, not even caring about the impact on the environment and then how now people do care so saying it's 'Dolphin Friendly' is a good advertisement strategy... Well, that would cover Science   SC4.2VA, "shows a willingness to engage in finding solutions to science-related personal, social and global issues, including shaping sustainable futures". It could also be History  HT4.7 "identifies and describes different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past". And also  Technology 4.1.2 "describes factors influencing design in the areas of study of Built Environments, Products, and Information and Communications", as well as 4.6.2 "identifies and explains ethical, social, environmental and sustainability considerations related to design projects".

The conversation can be two minutes long: for example, "hey notice how it's all 'Dolphin friendly' and those cans are more expensive than those that don't have 'Dolphin friendly on them?' And if the conversation happens where you know she's learning something then go through the different subjects and have a guess - like "hmm she had to use maths for that so I wonder if a maths outcome matches that" and low and behold, comparing prices of Tuna is covered in Maths MA4.2WM  "applies appropriate mathematical techniques to solve problems"!

So now you've got five outcomes covered and it took a few minutes of a spontaneous conversation while walking past Tuna!

I'd record that as "Discussed in detail historical, ethical, scientific commercial and economic implications of Tuna farming and 'Dolphin friendly fishing".

This is one example and I'm sure you could come up dozens like this every day. It's all about working out what outcome matches those conversations or activities your daughter does. It takes practice.

You can also googling phrases or wods, such as "applies appropriate mathematical techniques to solve problems" - this will result in being taken to curriculum links with what's called 'indicators'  or 'objectives' next to them. They are example 'lessons' or 'activities', or sometimes it's just a more detailed explanation. For example, a maths outcome the objective might be:

  • develop understanding and fluency in mathematics through inquiry, exploring and connecting mathematical concepts, choosing and applying problem-solving skills and mathematical techniques, communication and reasoning"

Which is also known as: talked about the price differences of the tuna can and looked at how much per 100gs to see what was the cheapest/most expensive etc! 

At the end of a day when you think about what your daughter has done, have a go working out what outcome was covered and show her the filled out proformas, so she can see that the 'school stuff' doesn't have to feel like 'school stuff', and that the outcomes they want you to cover are learnt from the real world but in class they have no choice but to manufacture 'lessons' and worksheets... like the Tuna example would take a whole hour with note taking, worksheets, trying to make people interested, maybe a lecture to begin with and it would be boring in a whole class situation for at least some or most of the class (maybe even all?) 

Australian home educating parent, Tamara Kidd began tutoryourownchild.com, a  web based consulting business, in 2007, turning something she had been doing for free, at that stage for about 10 years, into a 'stay at home business'.

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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 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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