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So, You Want to Homeschool... Start by Defining Education
by Beverley Paine
I've had a few inquiries recently from families interested in homeschooling but not sure exactly what homeschooling is...
How I define homeschooling usually involves talking more about how to go about homeschooling rather than a simple description because essentially home educating looks and is different for every family.
Many families come to the idea of home education with 'school-at-home' firmly in their minds and some are surprised to learn that it isn't correspondence school or 'school-of-the-air'. Some families are looking for a supervised education where the child is sent a package of books and assignments to complete and send back and some ask me if I mark children's works and give grades and will they receive any completion certificates.
It's not surprising that many families begin with these thoughts because this form of education is often all we've ever experienced. In addition, the authorities that regulate home education and register students usually reinforce this schooled image of education. The practice of home education can be very different to what happens in a classroom and reflects what we, the educating parents and our children, need and value.
As home educators the best place to start is not by looking for answers to the question 'what is home education' from others but by asking yourself and your children. Take some time to define 'education' and explore what the concept means to you and your family. Work out what you want education to deliver in terms of goals: goals for this week, this month, for the rest of this year and perhaps until your child reaches adulthood.
This thinking task might keep you busy for at least a week - that's how long I spent pondering it way back in 1985 when we first learned that it was possible for our child to be educated outside of school. Every year I read through our home educating 'philosophy', thinking it might need tweaking as the children grew, but because we'd put that time in thinking seriously about what education was and how we wanted learning to happen, I found the statement remained relevant. You can read it here: http://theeducatingparent.com/curriculum/sampleprograms/painephilosophy.html.
Defining what education means for you and your family will give you a basis from which to develop a foundation upon which to grow an educational framework tailored to your children's individual needs and your unique family situation.
It is a solid place from which to start looking for home educating methods, approaches, and resources. And it will save you money as well as effort: the plethora of resources and materials on offer for home educating families, most emotively marketed can be overwhelming. Developing your own learning plan isn't as difficult or onerous as it first appears. And the benefits accumulate as time goes by.
There are dozens of online support groups with experienced families ready to offer tips, links to resources and help with putting together your application for approval as a home educator: http://theeducatingparent.com/TheEducatingParentSupportGroupsDirectory.pdf.
Defining what education means and can be for your family is the first step to building a unique and wonderful learning experience that builds towards YOUR goals. Sure, it is important to give consideration to what society lays out as curriculum objectives and guidelines, but doing so through the lens of your child's learning needs, style and preferences will save you time, energy and money in the long run.
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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
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.
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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