Embracing the Natural Learning Philosophy and How to Personalise Homeschooling
© Beverley Paine
"Are there any other mums out there in a similar boat to me? ie: have a baby and don't need to 'formally' homeschool (meeting govt. education requirements because the child is of 'school age' ) but wish to embrace the philosophy at this tender age? I would like to have an opportunity to meet such parents and babes as a social outlet for me and my darling son."
Are you aware of http://naturalparentingsa.no-ip.org/ "Natural Parenting SA is a small group of parents who got together because of similar parenting styles, philosphies and interests, which include attachment parenting, cloth nappies, baby wearing, elimination communication (natural infant hygiene), breastfeeding, co-sleeping, home birthing, natural birthing and homeschooling."
Have you read Jan Hunt's book The Natural Child Parenting from the Heart , or Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting? I stock both these books on my www.alwayslearningbooks.com.au website. It took me a couple of thorough readings to fully understand Alfie's principles in his Punished By Rewards book - in fact, the second time I took notes. I'm totally convinced of his approach to the subject of motivation. Most of us are brainwashed into believing we don't have time to observe, listen, focus, pay attention, and give time to our children (or our own needs) and lose touch with what's real in our lives. Often when I'm reading a book or an article I scan to get the instant solutions I seek - that's another way in which I've been brainwashed, both by school and by the media. I'm learning to slow down (yay to the Slow Food advocates for kickstarting this movement!). It's much more satisfying to seek to understand rather than look for quick and easy solutions.
Annabelle's question prompted me to consider a fundamental aspect of natural learning within the homeschool environment. So often on homeschooling forums I see questions about how and what to teach our children, together with requests for lesson plans. Years ago I didn't understand why other homeschooling mums needed so much input from outside of their homes - making up lesson plans and knowing what to teach my children came naturally to me - all too naturally! I fell into the trap of overloading them and me all too often, but that's another story for another time.
Friends would ask me to help them come up with activities and I usually resisted, but wasn't sure why I felt reluctant. Most of the time I can dream up a dozen activities off the top of my head, thinking first of what I would do in that situation with my children. After a few years of homeschooling I learned to look at the family that wanted the information instead, and gear my ideas and solutions to their particular needs and lifestyle. But there's no way I could know what those children needed to learn, or where they were at in their development, as thoroughly as I could my own children. Most of my suggestions were based on generalisations. That's what teachers and curriculum writers do in schools.
My wise old friend John Peacock kept insisting that we are the experts when it comes to homeschooling our children. I've been to a few conferences where he was a keynote speaker and he always slipped this in somewhere. We're 'at the coal face', he'd say. Our children, our family, our lifestyle, our needs: these are the things that determine how our children are educated, what they learn, when and how. The information and knowledge we seek about how to go about homeschooling is inside us all, just waiting to be voiced and validated. We simply need to ask ourselves the questions we ask others, and patiently wait for the answers to arise, as they always do, in our daily lives. It took me years to recognise some of the answers: they'd arrive in various guises time and again until I paid attention and noticed them for what they were: solutions to questions I'd asked long ago. I have faith in my ability to find solutions and that's why it's easy for me to brainstorm a dozen different activities to help my children learn just about anything. Sometimes it's a matter of working out where to look for more information - that's an activity in itself.
When we take time to 'be' with our children completely; when we pay attention to their needs, and cast out our conditioned need to satisfy distant and impersonal societal parenting objectives; when we base our decisions and solutions around the strengths and limitations of the individuals in our own family, taking into consideration the situation and circumstances of our family lifestyle, cocooned within a larger community; then we are empowered to give our children exactly what they, and we as parents, need in our homeschooling lives.
Most of us don't have the confidence to 'go it alone'. And shouldn't have to. Learning is a social game and it's a lot of fun, especially when we share what we've found out. Often, someone's suggestion, will trigger an avalanche of 'answers' of our own. I truly believe that we all stand on the shoulders of giants: that without the support and encouragement of others we'd get nowhere.
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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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