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Why 'non-negotiable' learning areas doesn't make sense
Freya Dawson, July 2022
Interest-led learning is great, but maths and literacy are non-negotiables.
I just read this statement in a FB group and it leaped out at me. I've heard this same sentiment many times before.
I understand exactly where it's coming from, and yet I still find it strange and illogical.
What does “non-negotiable” mean in reality?
It means that every effort will be made to convince, persuade, coerce and manipulate a child into doing something that they don't want to do or find too uncomfortable to do.
When it comes to learning basic skills in literacy and numeracy this makes no sense.
The pressure applied by parents so often leads to resistance on the part of the child. Worse yet, it's easy for a child to get the idea that they “can't do this” or that they have a problem because they're unwilling or not ready to learn these skills. Often a child will get the message that it's their “attitude” that's faulty or that they aren't “trying hard enough”. All of these beliefs can potentially weigh heavily on a person for a long long time, getting in the way of the natural flow of growth and learning.
Putting pressure on a child (or forcing them) to learn literacy and maths skills is unnecessary. These are areas where children are naturally highly motivated to learn, as they are usually surrounded by people who have these skills and they want them too.
Why do children push themselves to learn to crawl and walk?
Why do they practice speaking to their parents all the time?
Because human children are naturally motivated to learn the skills that they see modelled in the adults around them.
Am I right about this? Does this accord with your own experience?
Wouldn't it then be highly likely that most children will want to learn to read and write, count and calculate in the way that they see adults doing every day?
There's a thing about timing and methodology though.
A child's natural desire to learn these skills, and their capacity to do so, may occur at a very different time than the school system and their parents dictate.
A child may also choose to learn in a very different way than what their parent or teacher expects or thinks is suitable. For example, they may find that playing video games all day is the perfect way to learn to read write and develop numeracy and maths skills and knowledge.
If children are supported in their interest-led learning process things can go so much more smoothly for everyone. Children get to learn in a way and timing that suits them individually and parents get to drop the role of “education controller” and enjoy being with their child. It's a win-win.
That's why the idea of non-negotiable learning has no place in our family.
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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.
Welcome to the World of Home Education
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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