Using School as a Natural Learning Resource
by Beverley Paine, Nov 2014
Today, on Unschool Australia while sharing our definitions and descriptions of unschooling, a discussion arose about if it is possible at all to unschool at school.
Speaking as a mum of a daughter who chose to go to school and chose to stay there after mainly being home educated... and who is unschooling her preschooler...
It bugged me enormously. What annoyed me the most was suffering through an hour or so of complaints about the school and the teachers and the way the whole thing operates every day for about a year (well, it seemed to go on for that long!) After endless days of offering different ideas and possible solutions, etc I insisted she stop complaining - going to school was her choice, I didn't agree with it, didn't think it was a good idea, everything she said just entrenched my position and she could come home anytime she wanted!
Silly me. Complaining was her way of working through the complexities of learning what she needed to learn at that stage of her life. School was the resource she'd selected to learn it.
I believe I could have worked more diligently to provide satisfactory alternatives but, for various reasons, that was too much effort at the time for me. And school, as a resource, was within reach and easy for her to use. At some point in time this insight came to me and explained why, despite her obvious dislike of many aspects of school and her history of home education, school was okay for her.
She needed to learn particular things life at home wasn't enabling. She wasn't aware of what those things were at the time: she was directed by a need that arose from her personality and temperament. What she was learning had nothing to do with the curriculum presented to the school - it was drawn from the experience at being in an institution. And it made me realise, yet again, that we're not always aware of what or why we're learning throughout life, it's often revealed afterwards, when we have a 'aha' moment of insight, or realise we've picked up some skills or ability we didn't have before without deliberately practicing it or choosing to learn it. Natural learning. So that's why I say that she was natural learning at school.
Sure she did a lot of things she didn't want to do - but she always had the option to say no at anytime. Knowing this made it an unschooling experience. She could walk out the school gate at any time with the support of her parents. She could fail a subject or not do school work at any time with the support of her parents. We encouraged her to remember her commitment to people at the school but ultimately being there (or not) was her choice.
And she vociferously encouraged her younger brothers to not go to school. Thinking on that now I can see that she was acting on her knowledge of them and understanding of their needs - school fulfilled a need for her but it wasn't a resource that would work for them.
So what do I think that school gave her? At the same time she began working part-time at a local supermarket, after school and on the weekend. Together these two experiences gave her an insight into how institutions operate, how people are managed and how goals and tasks are achieved. Perhaps if we'd owned a small business at the time these needs would have been met by that, but then again, perhaps not.
School, distance education, classes, tutoring - these are all resources our children can utilise. Our role is to support them, help them learn about themselves, who they are and help them identify their needs so that they can more effectively meet those needs. Sometimes it's a bumpy ride and sometimes we don't like or approve of their choices, but that's our challenge, the learning we need to embrace.
Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you?
Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating
and reassurance to families
better outcomes for their children.
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." Vanessa
"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!" Davina
"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others." Lesley
"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
in the morning, I 've been encouraged!" Louisa
"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." Gythaa
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
3 ESSENTIAL STEP BY STEP GUIDES
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!
Tap into Beverley's
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
Australia's premier online annual conferences, lifetime access to video and audio recordings, freebies, notes and associated resource guides.
EVERY SUMMIT IS UNIQUE!
$29 each 2023 2022 2021
$25 each 2020 2019 2017
"Biggest and best Aussie homeschool event of the year!"
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.
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.
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!