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How homeschooling changed me as a parent
by Beverley Paine, Jun 2023
I found it extremely difficult to make my children do bookwork or activities for the sake of learning/education. This challenged me enormously. I think when I started to homeschool (in 1985) I had this cosy picture of mum and the kids doing schoolwork at the table, reading on the couch together, going for nature walks, all in lovely warm sepia tones, rosy red cheeks and happy smiles...
What I got was April becoming very 'tired' at 10am in the morning, suddenly 'hungry' or needing to use the loo, or head in hands crying. Not every day, but enough to frustrate me. And some days she couldn't do the simple sums she'd done the day before. It was all very confusing!
I thought that if I kept applying myself to the task of teaching, trying different 'fun' ways of presenting the lesson or bookwork, things would be different and we'd crack this homeschooling nut and start enjoying it... but no. Doing the same things, albeit in slightly different ways, every day wasn't working.
There were days when I was ready to give up, send the kids to school, let it be someone else's problem.
But then there would be days when everything flowed, when our life was a wonderful, magical 'bubble of love', and I knew I wanted more of that, just had to figure out what made those days work and the other ones not...
That's when I started learning about individual learning preferences (aka learning styles), and also about some of the factors that make it easier or more difficult to learn. I began tweaking our environment and habits. I began paying more attention to who we are as people, and realised that a lot of what I'd been doing as a home educating mumma was prefaced on who I thought we *should* be. I'd been working overtime to meet standards and expectations that I didn't even value.
That's how I inadvertently began deschooling myself. And it changed me. I'd always questioned everything I did and thought before then, but now it was coming home to me in very real practical ways. I needed to change how I was doing things so they aligned with my values. I had to put my values before all the *should* stuff in my head. This put me on the path of becoming an assertive person. And assertiveness was something I'd listed as a goal for our kids, so it seemed kind of important for me to model it!
Over the years I became less of someone who knew what was the *right* way to do things, insisting that everyone align to my world view and values, and became aware of the need to champion the uniqueness of my children and everyone I met. I stopped wanting to *fix* the world and just wanted to be someone who could help others, in whatever way I could, find solutions that worked for them.
And my kids' resistance to being asked or coerced to do and learn things that didn't make sense to them in any immediate meaningful way started me on that journey.
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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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