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It's Review Time Again...
© Esther Marshall
He took his black briefcase from the back seat and proceeded towards the old limestone farmhouse, past the piles of junk, becoming aware of the dust accumulating on his shiny black shoes. He sidesteps children's bicycles but is not quick enough to avoid the blob of turkey manure. As he nears the house he hears the beat of rock music coming from within, as well as the soothing coos of pigeons. His unaccustomed nose becomes acquainted with the smell of pigeon manure in the sun from nearby aviaries.
He knocks on the battered and paint peeling fly screen and steps back to take in his surroundings. A vegetable garden has a backdrop of dry mallee scrub and paddocks, the contrast between the two outstanding. A Hills hoist stands further out, with rows of white nappies hanging neatly. A nearby outhouse is crumbling, its roof held on by a frayed rope tying it down. Though it is afternoon a rooster crows from further away somewhere. The scene is shabby yet comfortable and the man begins to relax after a stressful morning. He'd been here before, these people were easy, they gave him the answers needed to fill in his forms then he could go.
No one was answering the door - the music must be too loud, so, after attempting to scrape the clod from his shoe on the cement, he enters the house.
The scene before him brings back distant memories of his childhood. The air is warm and a little stuffy, but it was the smell of baking bread that really got to him. The mother, wearing a tie dyed purple T-shirt was kneading a big wad of dough. Three flour-smeared children surrounded her at the bench, drinking big glasses of milk. They didn't see the new arrival, and were chattering and stirring each other about their milk moustaches.
The mother looks up and smiles a warm, open smile. The bureaucracy could be her enemy but she had a feeling that under that suit and tie there was a real person.
" Oh. G'day. I didn't expect you 'till later."
The man extended his hand out of habit but soon retracted it as he realised the implications of going anywhere near this floury mob with his black suit on. But the mother was organised, er- as organised as any homeschooling mother can be.
"The stuff's on the table, feel free to have a look whilst I clean up"
The "stuff" was samples of the children's work- scrapbooks, models, photo's, and pictures.
By the time she'd turned down the volume on the record player and returned from the bathroom, the man was seated and the kids surrounded the table, each of them eager to show off their things. Being an old school teacher he was used to children and had a friendly and encouraging approach.
The mother looked on, allowing the kids to do the talking. She thought to herself of the preparation she had done for this interview; the cleaning up, the gathering of materials and the paperwork.
"Oh yeah- the paperwork."
After some scrabbling and rummaging around various piles of papers (well, she thought she was organised) she retrieved her report for the year.
The four-page report required details of the curriculum and subjects covered over the last year. After going through her diary and reflecting on the years' activities, she had spent some time placing these into the categories provided; A trip to Narracourte caves was placed under the heading of Geology, a series of novels read under English, a model under Art, etc. She came up with more than enough content to fill the form with. Filling in the form was a hassle and she had to make time to do so, but in the end it made her more aware of the things they had achieved as a family, and the milestones her children had achieved. A copy of this form also gave her a good personal record. Yep, she was glad she had to do it. She would never have got round to doing this type of documentation had she not been required to do so.
The man barely skimmed the form; he was so swamped by the examples of achievement he saw before him.
"We love to show off our work," she explained. "I mean, lots of people find it boring when we begin to talk about our schoolwork."
Hmm... we haven't called it 'schoolwork' for a long time, it's just living and doing, she thought to herself. Sounds like what he wants to hear but.
Driving back, tummy full of fresh bread and coffee, tackling the rickety driveway, he rubbed at the flour dust on his jacket. He thought of the family he had left behind, smiled to himself, and began to whistle the theme song for an old TV show he used to watch:"The Good 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.
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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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