Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAbout Blog Articles Curriculum Resource Directory Shop Facebook

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today! Plus... more FREE resources!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory


Free directory of Australian homeschooling and unschooling support groups organised by national, state and territories

Plan, record and report all in the one document! Always Learning Books planners available in each year level to suit your homeschooling needs, includes curriculum checklists
Australia's original homeschooling manual from veteran home educator Beverley Paine, how to write your own learning plan and curriculum to meet your child's needs
Let Beverley and friends help you design and write your own curriculum to suit your child's individual learning needs, learn how to prepare lessons, unit studies and more, record and evaluate your children's learning in this series of 3 parent workbooks developed on Beverley's popular homeschool manual Getting Started with Home School Practical Considerations
Introduction to
Home Education
  National and State
Support Groups
  Yearly Planner, Diary & Report Beverley's Original Home Ed Manual Series of How To
Parent Workbooks

Support Groups: National SA VIC NSW QLD TAS ACT NT
Registration Guides: VIC NSW QLD SA WA TAS ACT NT

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook online group.


Comparison, competition, socialisation, natural learning and parenting

by Beverley Paine
First publishing on blog

"The thing I struggle with is the competitiveness. Everything seems to be measured and tested and then it makes you feel like you are failing because you are not at the same level as someone else. " Tania

When my children were young this bugged me too Tania, so I started to think about it. At the heart of competitiveness is comparison and at the heart of that is wondering what other people think of us. I worked out that this is essential to growth and development: it is socialisation, pure and simple. What other people talk about when using the word socialisation is that thing that happens at school and then the workplace, which is only a subset of the whole socialisation process and which has been corrupted to suit a particular goal, rather than a set of holistic goals.

Socialisation is part of the social development process. One of our basic needs as humans is to 'belong': without a social group we die. We can't look after ourselves as babies, so we need parents. That's our first socialising process: learning to work with our parents so that our needs are met so that we survive and thrive. And we work overtime, smiling and imitating them, making sure we 'fit in' as best we can with the family culture so that we'll continue to be nurtured.

As we grow we meet other people important to our survival: family members. And then friends, other care providers, strangers... With each of them we need to make sure we will survive the encounter, which means working out what is needed from us in order to stay safe, protected and hopefully nurtured. Bit by bit we learn that it is important to modify our behaviour in order to get our needs met. That's socialisation at work. Learning how to belong and operate within social groups.

Comparison is one of the tools in our socialisation tool box. Humans are more alike than different but we're primed to notice differences because that's the direction from which threats usually arrive! And our social training continues to enhance this primal survival need (think of all those 'spot the difference puzzles' you did as a child!) As we get to know each other we naturally notice the differences; some differences work to meet our needs more efficiently so we experiment with them and adopt them if they fit or work.

I watched three year old April become transformed after playgroup as she took on the personality of her friend: for an hour she was Shawn, imitating his movement, his voice, his behaviour. The likeness was uncanny and disturbing. She'd been sufficiently impressed by him to 'play' him for a while. Instead of panicking (Shawn was a handful!) I observed carefully. April didn't adopt his characteristics and behaviour wholesale, she picked the bits that suited her developing personality and which worked to meet her needs. Shawn was more assertive than April: I'm sure 'playing' him helped her find her assertive voice.

We all do this: mimic the behaviour and actions of others we value. It's part of our cultural heritage and something we value highly. We're always telling our youth how important it is to find 'great' mentors, heroes we can look up to and emulate, etc. We compare ourselves to them, spot the difference, evaluate the difference and see if we can apply that knowledge to enhancing our lives, becoming the people we want to be.

Where does all this go astray? By being told we need to become people we 'should' or 'ought' to be, rather than who we already are and will naturally become! Reward and punishment become externalised: from birth children reward and punish themselves naturally as part of the growth process and it isn't a big deal because it is natural and necessary. They don't need external motivators: their sense of well-being is an authentic guide to what needs to be done to survive and thrive. Bit by bit though we erode this inner guide, eventually shattering their confidence in their ability to tell right from wrong, appropriate from inappropriate, what works from what doesn't work to meet their needs.

We've been programmed to do this because it is easy to control and manage populations of people if they don't have confidence in their own natural learning abilities.

Comparison is natural and makes sense. Competition is natural and makes sense too. Children inherently know and understand the nature of competition. It is an extremely effective and valuable learning tool. From birth they compete against their existing ability in order to grow: they naturally take risks. These risks are calculated: from their comparisons they have a reasonable idea of what would happen if they did this or thought that... and then they need to test their assumptions. "I can jump this puddle. My friend can jump a big puddle. How far can I jump?" Jumping is a game - that's what we as parents see, but the child is growing, testing, learning, comparing and competing.

Bring extrinsic reward and punishment (once extrinsic reward is established the absence of reward becomes an effective punishment) into the picture and children stop performing to grow and develop naturally but to do it to get the reward or avoid the punishment. It is no longer centred on their needs: it has stopped being a holistic socialisation process. It is now about pleasing others in order to belong to the group. Natural comparison and competition is corrupted to placate the needs of others. And these needs are often assumed rather than real: few people know what they need, though many can tell you want they want and it is usually based on what others want... what the popular trend is currently dictating as 'need'.

As parents we don't need to shun comparisons or competition but we do need to understand them and how they work to help us survive and thrive. They are some of the best tools we have in our learning toolbox. We'd feel silly picking up a spanner and trying to use it on a screw: spanners are for bolts! We need to use the tools in our learning toolboxes in the most efficient and effective manner, the way they are meant to be used.

Downplay comparison and competition when they work against the need. Subvert them to cooperative behaviour and thinking. Celebrate comparison and competition when they work to help our children grow and develop their unique abilities and personalities. We need to protect our children from endemic and pervasive corrupted comparisons and competition. Children innately know the difference and if we champion them they will happily revert to using both tools appropriately, what works efficiently and effectively for them to achieve their personal goals.

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

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.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community. I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now. And I'm very grateful."

image is 3 workbooks for parents set on a background showing bushland, DIY home ed curriculum planning, recording, evaluating, write your own curriculum
Want to learn how to write your own education plans
to suit your unique children's individual learning needs?

Or you are looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips...

Comprehensive 3 workbook 'how to home ed' course
covering the essential skills you need
successfully home educate your children



Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

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


Getting Started with
Home Educating Series of


#1 Create Your
Own Curriculum

#2 DIY Lesson Plans
& Unit Studies

#3 Recording and Evaluation Made Simple

$10.00 each (includes postage)

let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration with part 1 of this getting started with home educating serioes of parent workbooks, Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience
through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words... they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo
purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook support group

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.

Advertise on this site.

say goodbye to home education registration stress with this ultimate rego bundle from Fearless Homeschool

make homeschooling a lot easier, zero to homeschool's excellent course is here to help

Australia's best home education consultant, let Tamara Kidd guide and help you prepare your home education registration application or review

Twinkl downloadable Home education resources helping you teach confidently at home

Online science lessons for primary school aged home educating children

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us


What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Record Keeping Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2023.