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An Occasional Unschooler
by Adele Leach
We "unschool" when life gets busy, by "unschool" I mean, Child led/children building independence/everybody working independently beside each-other, with-in our family team.
Recently a couple of our kids have focussed on portraits, and I thought to myself... What good is it, if I have handful of girls who are good at portraits...?! Ha Ha!
Then I looked at the Maslows Hierarchy of needs. I see they have met some of THEIR needs, not my pre-designed educational needs for them.
My concern stemmed from MY needs not being met. I wasn't sure of MYSELF because.... because... I needed to DESCHOOL a little bit. I was still looking for my own value, my own accomplishment, through their ability to produce 'results'.
So the results were not what I originally desired, but I can certainly be happy that my child is OK.
Which leads us to the next question, how do we know they haven't got gaps?
Well the truth is we don't exactly. But neither does a parent of a child in school, right?
We all understand a school doesn't provide everything a child needs, every time? When you sign up to home educate, you register. To not register is part of educational neglect under the Education Act. Did you know when we sign a child over to a school or institution, we sign an indemnity form? They also registered a plan with NESA, and they do not promise our child will learn, they promise to teach from the set curriculum.
To "unschool" is NOT to "unparent". Your first concern as a parent, when the Home Ed routine is interrupted, first and foremost are YOUR needs met? Because if you are not meeting your human needs, you are going to struggle to be connected, engaged and present.
By being connected, engaged and present you will notice what is happening. Can they read? Can they write? Are they wanting to express themselves? Will they have a conversation?
Because if they are doing these things, they are OK, you have time... they have time... If they are NOT doing these things, or if they STOP doing these things, maybe there needs to be some help, or even intervention?
If you hit a family emergency, you can still home educate your child. You just lean into that connection with your child, set aside the curriculum for now and attend to the immediate needs. Your child will then know how to handle emergencies, a skill not in the set curriculum, but certainly a useful skill for life.
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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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