What We'd Do Differently if We Could Start Again...
© Beverley Paine
We began homeschooling way back in 1986 when April turned six... of course we'd been educating her since her birth but we didn't know that then. Roger was four and Thomas a couple of weeks old.
Like most families we started off doing what we knew best, what we knew would work: school-at-home. Robin and I were classed as 'bright students' at school, who 'should do well'. Despite our brilliant start, he failed university and I failed Matriculation! This usually surprises people - most assume we're tertiary educated. Well, you have to be tertiary educated to even think about homeschooling your children, don't you? Not at all! Anyone can teach their children. Everyone has something of value that they can teach... But homeschooling isn't just about teaching. It's about learning. And that was the first lesson our very young teachers - our children - taught us, way back in 1985.
How we start homeschooling our children usually looks nothing like how we finish homeschooling our children. That's how it was with us. When our youngest was in his late teens I rather belatedly discovered the Charlotte Mason approach to education, and more recently think that Enki seems to blend the best of the Steiner and Montessori approaches. I'm envious of new homeschoolers - there is so much experience to draw on and so many curriculum resources available specifically written for homeschoolers. It would be so cool to be starting out now!
At the annual Home Education CampFEST we're going to talk about what we'd do differently knowing what we do now. It's a tough topic and in our usual style we're brutally honest about our journey. We're not an ideal family, we're a real family. We can't go back. We live with the consequences of our actions. Our children live with the consequences of our actions. How does it all turn out? Is it what we wanted or expected? For some families homeschooling is over once their children become adults. I'm still asking questions about the educational process.
Some people may know of me as a natural learning advocate. It's an interesting concept and I've got lots of ideas about learning naturally. I like to think I have evolved a different definition of natural learning, one that puts the parent in the centre of focus along with the child. I'm no 'delight-driven' 'child-centred' natural learning proponent! But I am a fan of John Holt's writing on the subject of education, and you'll find that blended with my particular brand of conservative parenting style.
We'd like to spend some time talking about the role of fathers in home educating families. For more than a decade we thought that Robin's role was peripheral to our home education experience. Even now Robin isn't convinced that he had much to do with the education of his children, despite the very real evidence!
I think that we tend to undervalue the people resources around us as we clamour to access bigger and better material resources. Once upon a time education was very people focussed: we learned through talking and doing together: through first-hand, hands-on, primary experiences. Little children still learn like that. Big children can too. So can adults. Homeschooling takes us back to real, effective learning.
I wrote before that we're a 'real' family. Homeschooling was easy: five of us living together under the one roof wasn't! When times got tough, as they often did, friends would urge us to take a break, put the children into school. My health let us down all the time. We lived frugally through necessity. We burned the candle at both ends. We didn't cope. For a long time we felt that we were blundering around in the dark with only a pin-point of light to reassure us. Would we ever get there intact? Would our children learn to hate us for homeschooling them? Hmmm. It's hard talking about our sense of failing, but it's real, it happened, you'll feel like that too, and it's not the end of the world and it's not the end of homeschooling either.
Twenty years is a long time to get something right, to make it work and work well. We'd like to share with you the things that worked well for us. The things that made homeschooling easy, such as how to create an environment where learning happens effortlessly, without anyone even realising learning is happening!
We've got a lot to say about homeschooling and a lot of experiences to share. But our way is simply one way - it's really only our way. Your way will be different. If you come away from chatting with us with a few tips and ideas you can use on your home educating journey, if we can help you solve a few nagging problems, it will make our day.
We probably won't get to talk to you all individually, but please come up and introduce yourselves - that way, when we email I can (hopefully) put a face to a name and then we'll truly be friends!
Beverley (and Robin) Paine
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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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