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Attitude to Learning

© Beverley Paine

The following is an exerpt from Getting Started with Homeschooling Practical Considerations for Parents of School Age Children

The right attitude to learning is the key to a successful homeschooling environment. Learning happens all the time whether we are conscious of it or not. Learning means using all the senses, and is an active process.

Learning includes working from both texts, books, projects as well as doing tings with the hands. Resources don't have to be expensive. Creativity, ingenuity, flexibility, inspiration and the ability to listen to your children's needs are all you need to get started.

Homeschooling should always be purposeful learning, with immediate meaning for the learner. It shouldn't be for the attainment of far away, futuristic goals, or to satisfy the need of someone in authority you don't even know!

Children will not stay in any situation in which there nothing for them to learn, either because they are already familiar with it, or it does not yet make any sense to them. In these types of situations children will show boredom, be distracted, or become agitated and upset. The only way to avoid this is to make sure that what the children are expected to learn has the possibility of making sense, not only in terms of what the children already know, but in terms of what they might want to know.

Another reason children may not want to learn in any given situation can involved the perceived risk of learning, the chance of being wrong, or of making a mistake. Schools and parenting traditionally promote rewards for good and appropriate behaviour and learning. Learning does need any inducements; the virtue of learning is that it is immensely satisfying and rewarding in itself.

Children are naturally motivated to learn whenever there is something they do not understand and whenever their theory of the world is inadequate to explain present circumstances. If children need inducements beyond this, bribes, grades and stickers for example, then it may be time to re-evaluate your objectives and goals and to discuss them with the children.

Thinking positively promotes successful outcomes and reduces frustration, boredom and burn-out, both for you, the parent and the children. Turning problems into solutions through positive thinking is a valuable skill to learn and a good example to set. There are hundreds of excellent books in libraries you can access to promote positive attitudes.

While in the library brose among the books on education and children for tips and good ideas for activities you could use in your learning program. There is never any need to reinvent the wheel with education your children. There is so much information available and taking the time to find it is usually always rewarded with renewed enthusiasm, vigour and interest.

Developing the right attitude is helped by having some understanding about how learning happens. Current knowledge about learning has led to the development of several principles which underpin all learning. These are:

Self-concept influences learning. Learning is facilitated when individuals have a positive attitude towards themselves as people and as learners. High self-esteem is developed when diversity is valued and success in learning results from building on previous experiences. Successful learning helps to build confidence.

Learning is an active process . People learn most effectively when they are interested in and participating in activities. Knowing and understanding the purpose of learning activities, and being able to relate in a personal way to them, enables the learner to have some control over what is learnt and how.

Children's environments and relationships influence learning . Learning occurs most effectively in secure, caring and supportive environments where children and adults respect and trust each other. Positive and supportive relationships between children, and between children and adults, enhance and promote successful learning.

Language is basic to learning . Thinking aloud, talking through a task, asking questions, explaining new concepts and acquiring new language for new experiences are all part of the learning process. Scope for talking, questioning, explaining and discussing, as well as for reading and writing, is essential for the promotion of effective learning. In the home school you will find a lot of learning occurs incidentally through the processes of conversation.

People learn in different ways . Individuals differ in the ways they go about learning, and in the strategies they use for solving problems. The time it takes to learn things can differ between individuals. The curriculum, resources and structures provided for learning should take these differences into account.

All people are learners . Everyone has the capacity to think and to learn, and should have the opportunity to learn through a wide range of activities.

Learning is a life-long process . Learning begins at birth and continues throughout life, continually building on prior experiences. An education program should accept and develop the planned and unplanned learning that occurs all the time in all situations.

A good way to begin thinking about how learning happens is to critically examine a recent situation in which you learned something new, especially a skill. Consider all of the factors which helped or hindered the learning process for you. What would you change now, if you could, to make it more enjoyable or easier? How could you build this reflective process into planning educational programs for your children? Beginning to understand how learning happens in a personal way as an adult can lead to greater understanding of how learning will happen for your children.

see also Preparing the Learning Environment

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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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