by Beverley Paine, Jul 2013
Every home educating parent worries if she or he is doing enough, or doing it right. What we often forget is that works for one family (or even one child) doesn't necessarily work for others. There isn't one right or wrong way. Parenting individual children is always going to be one continuous experiment, tweaking this or that, and it is the same with home education.
Even now, with adult children, I worry that I did enough or did it right, then remember that I always tried to do the best I could with what I had at the time. Sometimes that was woefully inadequate, but usually because we were beset by health problems that took frequently took centre stage, or the money just wasn't there to do what we preferred to do. Life happens and we work our way around whatever limitations we need to deal with, building on the opportunities that are there. And there were many opportunities, more than we could realistically take advantage of!
Over time I began to realise that a busy productive home life is a wonderful education in itself and that all I really need to do was help the children focus on and learn a few things here and there as the need arose: how to work out percentages, or exchange tens for units, or calculate the area of a circle. Out would come the maths dictionary and sometimes a text or work book or two and we'd learn the skill together. Sometimes I would recognise that the children needed a skill (which in our home we call 'tools' for living) ahead of need and then I'd create an opportunity for them to come across it, usually through play, board/card games or art/craft activities. Construction activities were a way of life for us and easily covered a considerable part of the school curriculum without even trying!
This approach to education with lots of opportunity for learning naturally to occur gave me the reassurance I needed. At times I would record everything my children did or we did together and translated it into educational jargon -- samples of our home educating life, demonstrating the holistic and integrated nature of unschooling.
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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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