An example of unschooling: how children who aren't taught learn
Beverley Paine, November 2019
The grandkids came over today (age 4 and 6) to 'play'. Over four hours we:
- made papier mache bowls using balloons
- painted our bowls
- child-led science experiment: do eggs crack if they are frozen?
- found a blue tongue lizard, checked for ticks
- played Junior Monopoly
- played Beetle
- did a puzzle
- talked about and played with Fabuland people
- ate lunch
- wrote letters and numbers on the deck with chalk
- pretended the chalk was make-up and 'made up' our faces in front of the mirror, pretending to be characters from literature
- designed and created a 'trap' using rope to trap granddad
- played in the pool, demonstrated new skill of going under water in the pool, created novel moves for a 'parade' in the pool
- checked on the progress of growing crystals
- made models from plaistocene using illustrations in a book as a guide
- counted 'eyes' on plaistocene monster creation
Our grandkids live next door so it is easy for them to visit when they feel the need for burst of grandparent energy. Today they walked in the door and we simply got busy doing whatever...
This is unschooling. It's busy. It flows. The only hassle is keeping up with the tidying up afterwards. If there are any hesitations or reluctance we 'flow' a different direction. It's very flexible, open to change.
And I know they're learning. It's so obvious that they are.
There is so much of the early childhood curriculum across all subjects packed into those four hours. That's why I love natural learning and unschooling so much.
I am 90% engaged during these sessions - and it is great that I can send the kids home to their parents, but I also know that our time together works because they've done what they wanted in their way at a pace that works for them. My only suggestions were the bowls and the pool. My guess is that they probably watched TV when they got home, or played computer games or watched Youtube, or simply got busy individually playing with their toys - balancing that burst of busy time with down time (consolidating, reflecting, resting).
I find that when I take the time to notice and track what the children are saying and doing over a day it is easy tick off curriculum outcomes.
Unschooling works because it grows out of the child's needs. Once we let go of our expectations, assumptions and investments in what we think they should know and be learning unschooling gets easier and easier. :-)
I am glad my grandkids haven't experienced school and only know this learning lifestyle.
Not everyday with the grandkids 'flows' as well as this, but because we know them well we know when to back off, make adjustments, offer 'backdoors' (escape routes), etc. The less organised and structured I am the better the 'flow' happens. What I find critical is to be organised with materials - to have things on hand, easy and quick to find. My role is much more a facilitator and materials gatherer/provider, but mostly I sit and play with the kids, do what they day. Really, I'm just a big kid.
Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you?
Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating
and reassurance to families
better outcomes for their children.
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.
"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people." Vanessa
"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!" Davina
"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others." Lesley
"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
in the morning, I 've been encouraged!" Louisa
"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful." Gythaa
Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's
individual learning needs?
Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips ?
Over 1000 reassuring and
informative articles to help
build your confidence as an Educating Parent
Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!
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
The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.
The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.
Over 30 presentations!
For $29 you get
lifetime access to recordings
of all the workshops, all associated resource guides, dDownload all video and mp3 files
Amazing homeschooling help!
"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie
"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since
my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo
Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.
Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!