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Homeschoolers... Families Living Extraordinary Lives!
© Beverley Paine
Years ago we would trek off to playgroup and later to homeschooling groups and I would leave feeling dispirited, low and unhappy with myself. There are lots of reasons for this, including triggering chemical sensitivities that are unavoidable in social situations, but I gradually began to identify a pattern in my thinking and wondered if this was to blame. Without meaning to, during each social outing I was comparing my parenting style and homeschooling methods and our outcomes with those of the other families. But not just any family: I wasn't compare myself to someone who was obviously struggling, or who had children who were misbehaving (in my eyes). I'd compare us to the ones that shone, you know, the almost perfect family and mother.
This mother nearly always was a lot slimmer to me, brought organic vegie snacks and home-made hommous, could talk - even quote from - just about any book and author. Her children were usually musical inclined, bright curious children who liked to talk to adults (unlike my children). Sometimes I wouldn't meet this family at gatherings, I'd read about them in the homeschooling magazines, books and newsletters. The effect was the same. It left me feeling disheartened and discouraged.
Sharing our stories - especially the down days when life and homeschooling it isn't going as we had planned or hoped - helps to bring a healthy dose of reality to our lives.
The truth is we are all ordinary families doing something wonderfully extraordinary. That's worth remembering. We're so busy comparing ourselves to others that we often forget how extraordinary homeschooling is.
I found that the longer I homeschooled the less I hung out with families that didn't homeschool. And I became more choosy about friends. Those that didn't support my style of parenting gradually fell away. Then, every so often, I'd be in the company of a family like the one I grew up in, where education only happens in schools, by experts, or trained people, where competition between siblings is encouraged and where the whole point to education is to get a well paid job and have people look up to you for the rest of your life. Or I'd find myself in a family home that had few toys, even fewer games, and even fewer books! This would really ground me. Our family and our lifestyle shone and I would feel very proud of what we had achieved and were continuing to strive for.
Homeschooling is an extraordinary practice - it can be really isolating as so few people understand why we want to do it. We're fighting two hundred years of entrenched brainwashing about education. Our parenting practices are considered suspect. It doesn't matter how you homeschool - unless you have perfect children who excel at everything that you can show off as 'successful products of homeschooling' it's hard to feel consistently reassured that what we're doing is okay...
Take heart. You are doing a wonderful and important job, one that parents did for millenia before the advent of compulsory mass schooling. Civillisation rose on the back of parental, not school, education. It does work, and it will work for your family!
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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
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'.
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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