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Collections are Educational

Beverley Paine

Collecting opens up new worlds for children: it sparks their imaginations about life in the past, and maybe even prompts them to think about what might happen in the future: What will people think of the toys they cherish today in a hundred years time? Will they survive the passage of time, or will they become worn and eroded, like the old coin they found at the back of the drawer? Collecting helps children build a concept of time.

Collecting is a wonderfully creative past time. You get to choose what you want to collect - and it can be anything at all! You also get to use your imagination when working out how to display your collections. Some people hide their collections away in boxes and drawers to keep them safe or tidy, while others turn them into works of art, proudly on display.

Every collection, and every item in each collection, tells a story. That's the best bit about collections. There is your story: the story of when you found the item, what you were doing at the time, why you kept it and what it means to you.

Then there is the story of the object: where it came from, what it is made of, how old is it, who did it belong to, what is it worth, why was it made... and so on! These collected items can tell us a lot about the culture and times from which they come! They can also tell us a lot about the materials and tools people used to make them, revealing the history of technology.

Collections teach us about important people and events and what life was like in the past. Museums have collections of stuffed animals, rocks, pressed plants: these teach us about the nature of these things. Taking care of collections involves doing things like measuring, keeping accurate records, observing, comparing - valuable skills that transfer to almost every area of life. Historians use collections to help them understand how people behave; why civilisations grow and advance and why they sometimes disappear. An old scarred coin can tell us so much about how people lived thousands of years ago!

We sometimes collect things to jog our own memories, such as photographs in albums, or videos we put up on YouTube of our holidays or latest project. I collect pebbles and rocks to remind me of places I've visited: they are nothing special, just little mementos that will mean nothing to anyone else but bring back happy memories for me.

Best of all, collections let us share our knowledge with others. When we show off and compare our collections with others we learn different things. Collecting can be a great way to meet and make new friends.

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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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