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Reading for Life: Te Lost Arts of Making and Mending

© Beverley Paine, 2004

In the homeschool we provide plenty of opportunity to develop craft skills through exciting projects that captivate the children's imagination or provide suitable props for their many games. There's a more practical side to developing craft and technology skills though; we're preparing our children to be self-reliant, teaching them self-sufficiency and conservation skills that will save valuable resources and help them to become independent and useful members of society.

There are oodles of craft books full of wonderful activities that teach, step by step, how to make anything from a woollen scarf to a kitchen sideboard, to a robot carrying a snack tray! Find books or kits that excite and interest your child, or you. When you are engaged in craft or technological projects, even if you don't involve your children, you are modelling valued life-skills. In time they will emulate your example, even if they aren't interested at this stage. Always invite them to join in, but don't feel the need to coerce or bribe them. Get involved in their projects too, with real enthusiasm, in whatever way you can, without taking over completely!

If you're like me, you read the packaging and instructions to just about everything you buy. A long time ago I grew tired of watching other people struggle to put together something new, give up in frustration when they hit a snag, then dig out the directions. I've always been a great believer in 'reading the instructions first'. I love instructions. It's a quick and easy way to learn new skills. Sometimes I need to ask about a term or find a definition for new words in the dictionary. I can't imagine a home without one, two or three dictionaries of different sizes scattered throughout the house or shed!

We have books that show us how to build a garden wall that won't fall over, how to repair the plumbing under the kitchen sink, how to change a light bulb. We have books that show us how to crochet, knit, sew and embroider. We have building books, gardening books, cooking books, home repair books, and books that show us how to build up, identify and label elaborate collections. We also have books that show us how to solve problems on the computer, how to use the programs, how to surf the Internet and find instructions on how to do just about anything we'd ever want, or need, to do!

I know that I am continuously demonstrating that I am reader and that the written word is an integral and powerful tool in my life. My children want to become readers to be able to access the information they need to do what they want, as well as an enjoyable past time.

We don't need to invent reading-related jobs or chores around the house or copy contrived classroom antics to encourage children to read. On those long days when there doesn't seem much to do and we're all bored with what we've been doing it's time to dust off some of the jobs we never get around to doing. Here are some reading-rich examples of activities that you can share with your children:

•  make a card file for your recipes, or record on the computer;

•  file the photographs in the album, and write captions, or scan them onto computer and store on CDs, complete with notes about each one;

•  make a family website and upload to the World Wide Web;

•  make a calendar which records family birthdays and special occasions;

•  update or make a new address book;

•  make a family tree;

•  tidy the bookshelves into categories or alphabetical order;

•  with your child revise the family weekly list of things to do;

•  make greeting cards and write suitable poetry and store close to the address book and birthday calendar;

•  plan the next holiday, map out the route and make a list of things to take and do; start a planning scrapbook you can take with you;

•  research a new project together and make plans, write lists of things you need to buy, etc. It can be about anything you or they have wanted to do but haven't had time.

... read more tips on learning how to read

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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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