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Surrendering and Learning to Trust our Children's Learning Journey's

by Beverley Paine

Learning to trust in natural learning was a steady and slow realisation that learning isn't something that is divorced from living. Almost everything in our western way of life seems to be segregated so it can be managed, analysed, judged and checked off! But this is just a myth, a paranoid over-anxious, stressed out way of looking at life...

Yes, we need to jump through hoops to get what we want sometimes and yes, sometimes some of the things we do don't make a lot of sense when examined rationally. But nonetheless there are lots of times in life when we willingly do things that don't make total sense so that we can achieve our goals, avoid conflict, make life easier, etc. We compromise a lot. And that's just another part of life.

Surrendering and trusting our children's learning journeys comes easier when we surrender and trust our own learning journeys. First of all I started to see myself as a learner. I discovered what kind of learner I am; what makes me tick; why I am interested in certain things and not others; why I find some things easy or interesting but not others; why I react the way I do to different things; what really turns me on; etc. Then I noticed that my partner was very different! This was a revelation - until then I had assumed all people think like me, have the same capabilities, and even more or less the same goals. I discovered that he collects facts and I make links. I forget facts. He only links facts when they interest him. I am more focused on making meaning, he is more focused on making things!

After that I began to wonder why we were different - especially as we had very similar backgrounds. We are the same age, our families come from the same part of England; we're both migrant children. We were well cared for and our parents were keen on camping, which meant we both saw a reasonable amount of Australia as kids. We went to neighbouring primary schools and were in the same class at high school. Our parents are working class with limited secondary education. We both had stay-at-home mums and our fathers worked for defence (munitions). I figured we were more the same than different - particularly from a nurturing/environme ntal point of view. That left genetics. Robin was a whiz at maths in school, not so good at English. I was the opposite. If we had the same teachers, the same curriculum and the same opportunities, how come we didn't both excel at both?

I think it was about then I began to realise that school hadn't really had much effect on who we were as people, how we'd 'turned out'. Throughout our school years we'd each taken what we needed and wanted to learn from the endless lessons and built on them, largely rejecting all the other stuff. We did enough to please our teachers and our parents - lucky that (until year 12 for me) it all made sense. Studying wasn't hard for either of us - we basically coasted along, with each of us getting better at what we each found interesting.

The adage 'you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink' kept rolling around my head... In a nutshell, our children will learn what THEY need to learn in the way that makes the most sense to them, when they need to learn it. We think we have a lot of control over that process but we don't really. All we can do is get the silly stuff out of their way and let them get on with the important stuff.

For us, filling in forms for the educational authorities is the silly stuff. We do that on their behalf so that they can get on with the important stuff. They are lucky - we weren't so lucky when we were young and at school and our 'education' was, as result, very hit and miss.

I didn't learn to surrender and trust the learning journey all at once - it took me a dozen years of parenting and a LOT of thinking! I read books and newsletters that reassured me and helped to build my faith but ultimately understanding myself as a learner was an important factor. I 'knew' all I needed was to trust but I wanted analytical evidence to 'understand' the truth of it!

I am still surrendering into that trust - it is an ongoing process. Such is the heavy weight of conditioning of my childhood years and the pressure to conform to insanity ('normal life').

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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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