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Unschooling and Recording
2 Jan, 2021
FAQ: "I know my daughter is learning and researching her own interests but the thing I find hard is how to quantify that learning to report on as is the legal requirement to stay registered."
it is hard to get your head around how to notice and record the learning that is taking place, no matter what our kids are doing. I found that reading through the curriculum framework and doing that tedious task of translating it into everyday language, trying to find examples from non-school life which the outcomes and elaborations and statements also describe, very helpful in not only helping me to recognise how simply living imparts many skills and much knowledge, but also grew my confidence. And that made it easier to explain to my kids that yes, they were learning even though they weren't doing all that stuff kids in school have to...
One of my most popular booklets is Translating Everyday Language into Educational Jargon, available from Always Learning Books where I try to explain and elaborate on the idea.
During my most wobbly times unschooling I would do 'sample' weeks - when I'd jot down just about everything my kids were doing: the things they did on their own and things we did together, both planned and unplanned, structured and unstructured. It was comprehensive and thorough, but not intrusive because I tried to be the objective observer as well as simply going about everyday life. It was simply adding another task to my day. I didn't have a smart phone back then that could photos, and photos do make it easier to remember. However it was the collection of notes, which sometimes included snippets of conversation or things the kids had said, which revealed just how much (and often how) the kids were learning.
I didn't do this type of intensive recording all the time. However, half a dozen examples like this throughout the year would give a revealing picture - a collection of samples - of the approach to home education. And the practice of doing it a few times will help you (and her) to notice how and when learning is happening. That makes it easier to jot those notes down to aid memory for putting together that summary for the review, or to help prepare next year's learning plan.
Resource Directory updates
Learning Maths Naturally
Sarah Beale shares how her kids learn maths. It's also how my boys learned maths - naturally, as life happened, a busy, wonderful, constructive and creative life just doing what needs to be done and what interests them. #unschooling
"This is a good way to learn numbers". Peggy, age 6
Observing children learn in their own way and in their own time, allows us not only the joy but also the luxury of partnering with them.
It sure feels like a luxury to me anyway as we are gifted the almost complete absence of stress that they are not learning enough; fear of the future because watching them learn brings surety that this will continue; and the best thing - being invited into the life of our children is a gift in itself.
When children attend school it makes sense that things are learnt in a particular order. Each skill builds on a previous learning and so on.
Beyond school though, children are free to learn in a way that suits them, without need for any arbitrary or forced order. The learning is often not linear but more circular, rhythmic, intuituve.
Much happens via conversation and, blessed with almost limitless time, will naturally follow a child's interest in that moment: Why is my birthday on the shortest day of the year when we are in England but the longest day of the year in Australia? Why, when I walk forward, do I use my left leg first but you use your right leg? Why are strawberries more expensive in winter? Look at my footprints in the snow! Let's see how far I can make my steps stretch out. Not one of these conversations more important than the other.
None of the musings more of less important than, say, maths or learning numbers. But all led by an interest in that moment and answered within the context of connection and love.
Join Sarah's Facebook group: The Partnership Parenting Movement
*reprinted with permission
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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.
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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