Friday, December 30, 2011

Developing Strategies for Dealing with Children's Difficult Behaviours

by Beverley Paine

Today I was given some examples of a child’s behaviour that challenged her parent and was specifically asked for ideas about what to do and how to handle each situation.  Another friend gave some great ideas which I’ve tried in the past with my children and which have worked, so instead of adding more ideas I thought the issue from a philosophical or general perspective: what is really needed and being asked of here?
All parents have wisdom to share: we learn from our experiences and our experiences tend to be fairly similar in most things. What I love most about the internet is how it allows this wonderful conversation to develop between people: a rebuilding on the social networks that were destroyed by two world wars,
famine and disease and the embracing of the ‘nuclear age’ in the first half of the 20th century.

My first instinct when asked parenting questions is to consider ages/stages and then transitions. We definitely go through stages of develop at roughly similar ages throughout life and just knowing that can take the 'heat' off some of our concerns. I've found that my expectations that my child will behave in a certain way often have less to do with her development and more to do with what I perceive other people will think. This is my schooling combined with a schooled parenting framework (my personal childhood conditioning) coming into play: my self esteem was hijacked in my early years and subverted to serve this thing society likes to label 'socialisation' but which is actually a mere subset of the actual socialisation process. 

So, first thing for me to be - as a much wiser, older parent who has seen the error of her ways and observed many other families - is to step back and try to work out what is really going on in each situation. I would examine the nature of the child and ask myself:

a) Is this behaviour coming from her centre, or is it reflected behaviour, projected behaviour, is she merely 'trying out' something she has seen? Children, especially very young children, mimic behaviour. They can learn some powerful and lasting habits this way! We all do.

b) If it is coming from her centre and you do not value it, question why you don't. Are your values solid, are they centred? Regardless of the answer: Can you change? Do you want to change? Can you accommodate her personality, needs, abilities, disposition, temperament, likes, dislikes? Our children challenge us to grow and develop. I like to think that is why we bring them into our world, to teach us what we need. It is so easy to ignore the lessons brought to us by strangers, parents, friends, books, movies, nature, life... Hard to ignore the lessons brought to us by our children!

c) Okay, you definitely don't like it, it's not helpful, it's not constructive, you've decided there isn't a lot to be learned from it (open your mind wider - there is so much to be learned on many levels in each moment from every experience): this is the time to develop strategies for either living with, changing, eliminating, or whatever, the offending behaviour or situation. Time to brainstorm with all the people affected (if possible). I love brainstorming because it doesn't get into judgment - it is a visualising, creative, imaginative fest where ideas are allowed to float to the top, get jotted or drawn on a sheet or paper (whatever allows everyone to do the recording too). No idea is good, bad, silly or brilliant. They are merely fodder for the strategy fest that is to come next. I tend to select strategies and solutions that 'build', have somewhere to grow and usually support or solve other problems at the same time. That's my permaculture framework learning coming into play.

d) The hard part, the bit that often isn't fun and no one wants to do or maintain, is working at the strategy. Habits take a while to form and can take even longer to change. Change requires diligence and persistence as well as constantly reminding oneself of the desired outcome (continue the dreaming and visualising), together with celebrating the process of change. We celebrate progress, we celebrate where we are at, we celebrate the journey; we celebrate simply being as well as doing, without judging ourselves on the journey or our progress. We observe and note what is happening and from there decide what to do next. We work on acting rather than reacting and we do this by sharing, by talking, reflecting and dreaming together, developing and trying different strategies together. We can do this with people of any age, from tiny babies to toothless grannies!

To summarise: observe and understand the inherent nature of the child. Understand, from a sympathetic perspective, her needs. Wants respond to and arise from our needs. See the need. Meet the need. Wants often set up oppositional or defensive reactions in ourselves and others: learning to uncover the need driving the want dissolves this tension and allows us to genuinely and sympathetically help people meet their needs.
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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And, of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Does Natural Learning Work?

by Beverley Paine

I think that expectation lies at the heart of our lack of confidence or trust in natural learning.

In my personal journey I have been doing lots of work on expectations in the last 18 months. I've come to see how easily they trip me up, confuse and distract me. For a very long time I have focused on 'realistic expectations'. Offering advice to other home educators I usually counsel them to have 'realistic expectations' when considering this question of what children should or could be doing. Realistic expectations are based on a general understanding of the nature of children/people at that age and stage of development as well as taking into account the personal nature, abilities, disposition, temperament and personality of each individual. All very logical and sound, except that I was still battling doubt, even with adult children who obviously display the 'success' of unschooling, home education, learning naturally, etc!

Obviously we're not going to eliminate expectation nor should we attempt to: it is necessary part of the dreaming, planning, doing, reflecting, celebrating cycle of learning. But we can reduce our attachment to expectation. That's what I've learned in the last half of this year and the more I practice becoming detached to expectation the greater my trust (security, general sense of well-being, joy) has grown.

John Holt said that unschooling isn't the rejection of text-books and student work-books, it is more about the how and why we use them. If we use them when we need to, not when we think we ought to, then they are simply learning resources and enhance our learning processes.

Natural learning is about using resources appropriately and in a timely manner, keeping our goals and objectives real and meaningful to learners and in context with their everyday lives, hopes and aspirations. The content and skills embedded in activities are not what we focus on, unlike traditional educational approaches where these are examined in detail and elevated to the utmost importance.

Our learning naturally children learn everything they need or want to in the same way they learn when they play. We undervalue the importance of play and hence the learning inherent in play because we perceive play as lacking effort. Another word for effort is work and work is usually defined as something we have or need to do rather than want to do. The work of learning doesn't have to be a chore or hard or unpleasant although it can be and often is, but it can also be seemingly effortless, joyful and fun. A year ago a friend said to me that we need to examine how we define 'working'. It is because we were schooled we are fixated on outcomes as well as the perception of the effort expended in achieving those outcomes our concept of educational and parenting success is underpinned by our definition of 'work'. Think about it. Can you change your definition of 'work'? In our home I interchanged 'work' and 'play': we played at working and we worked at playing. We worked playfully and we playfully worked.

Back to that notion of success and the importance of parenting style and education approach. As parents we have very little control over what careers our children ultimately choose or how they live their lives once they've left our nest. We kid ourselves if we think we do... But as parents we plague ourselves with this illusion of control and this feeds our insecurities and doubts which remain as a result of our own flawed educational process. We worry about we can plan for those careers when our children are little; what to teach, how to guide them, what resources we should buy or provide access to, etc. We feel compelled by parental instinct and need to make sure they will eventually survive and thrive as young adults; that we've given them all the tools they may possibly need and have helped them learn how to use them efficiently and appropriately. In a changing world this is indeed an enormous and difficult task!

But is it a realistic one? An achievable one? Are we setting ourselves up for failure at worst, never-ending doubts at best? The answer, I believe is to stop focusing so intently on the future and bring your attention to the present moment: be attentive to your child, to his or her needs, to your needs, the current situation unfolding, right here, now. What is happening? What do we need to do? Do we need to do anything at all? Does what we choose to do build towards the outcome we desire? Is it constructive? Helpful? Positive? Does it align with our values? But most importantly, does it meet the child's developmental needs? 

As a home educator, how did I know natural learning was working? For me is was when my children demonstrated they were growing in confidence and independence. When they brought me interesting things to share. When they demonstrated they knew more about something than I did and could  do things I couldn't, even - and especially - when I had no idea how they learned these things! When they were happy to think differently from the crowd - or from me - and confidently expressed their thoughts. When they questioned the status quo and made up their own minds.

Why is it so difficult to trust? It took me years to trust in natural learning. My head knew and understood the philosophy of natural learning and I confidently espoused that, but living it, breathing it, truly knowing it? That took time. Ultimately I realised that I only needed to observe without prejudice, to witness without judgement, that learning is happening all the time. I'd been trained by my parents, my schooling, and society not to notice the learning inherent in every moment of life. To help me notice it I created a list of our educational and developmental goals for our children (in our words, not drawn from some educational curriculum!) And for a while we created an annual reflection poster as well as a dreaming poster, upon which we wrote what we thought we had each learned or achieved over the past year and what we wanted to happen (dreams and goals) for the year ahead. Looking back over my lists and posters was incredibly reassuring: we consistently achieved 90% (the ones we didn't usually had something to do with owning a Lamborghini or winning 100 million dollars!)

What we do as adults isn't hinged on what and how we learned as children: it has as much to do with who we are, where we are and in what times we live. Ambition, competitiveness, talent and other personal traits make a difference in our children's adult lives. Opportunity and access to resources makes a huge difference. These are things we could be dwelling on instead of worrying about if our children are learning what we think they ought to be.

Three years ago I wrote; "My 22 year old finds it difficult to do some of the things he wants to because he doesn't have the skills and ability. He's impatient to do it now, not wait until he's paid for a uni or TAFE course to get him there in 2-4 years time. He finds his own way and usually gets there. Sometimes he thinks he is failing, other times he feels more confident. He's not willing to compromise on his lifestyle to reach his goals - he'd rather modify his goals! Or wait. Is this because he learned naturally as a kid? Nah - I've met schooled grads who are much the same. In fact, once they hit their twenties, there isn't a lot of difference between this wonderful schooled, unschooled, homeschooled, naturally learned young people. That is to say, I really don't think not learning in any particular way has much of an impact on how they achieve their goals. Method isn't as important as personality. But then again, maybe my kids attract free thinkers with 'have a go' attitudes as friends. Not many of their friends believe that to learn you have to do it in a particular way, even the ones that have become teachers.

By and large, my children have grown up to be the people they innately are. Nourished and loved, given everything a child needs to thrive and survive, in particular timely attention, they have become relatively confident and secure adults. 'Relatively' because they are still learning and growing, as we all do throughout our lives: life is a learning journey and who wants it to be over at 18 years of age! I recognise that we're exceptionally lucky to have lived such a privileged life where my children didn't have to suffer hardships, abuse, neglect, the effects of war, famine or pollution. Being able to lavish them with the attention they need and want as children, 24/7 every day of each year was an immense joy and privilege. And as a result, my children are awesome, people I look up to, admire and take counsel from!
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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And, of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!
Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wants Versus Needs: is this the key difference between radical unschooling and natural learning?

by Beverley Paine

I've worked out what I don't like about the word 'want' - it places my thoughts into the future rather than focusing on the blessings of the present.

Listening to so many people recently I felt overwhelmed by the focus and prominence given to 'wants'. It really hasn't been part of my conscious vocabulary for so long now and hearing it passionately voice over and again jolted me out of my comfort zone. Feeling at peace now that I am back to counting my blessings.

Below are snippets from a conversation I'm having on Facebook: writing, reflecting and conversing are the ways I learn optimally: voicing my insights and understandings as they arise helps me clear any remaining confusion from my mind.Muddling through thoughts about wants versus needs I wonder if this is the key difference between radical unschooling and natural learning.

I can dream without wanting - my goals and visualisations are dependent on wants. I am motivated by my needs, in particular my need to be creative, imaginative, to think laterally. My need to love others, to be there, to be caring, to be responsive, to give. My need to look after myself and my environment. Given the huge complex nature of my needs, is there any room to find time to attend to 'wants'? And if these needs are met what more could I possibly want?

Caring for the environment is a basic human need. If we soil our nest we don't thrive. And our current lifestyle soils our nests to the most incredible degree... Humanity's food chain now contains substances poisonous to the human body - many of these substances did not exist in nature a century ago. As consumers we all complicit in contributing to this undesirable situation. So caring for the environment is not a want, it is a need, a very vital one.

For example: if a baby sleeps in a room filled with cigarette smoke the baby will develop lung disorders, if not now then later in life. The quality of the air we breathe is vital to our health and to be healthy is a basic need. The provision of clean air is a basic need. We don't want clean air, we need clean air. If we think we only want it then we give ourselves the choice to ignore that need, which is just plain silly and counter to common sense.

Of course we all ignore needs in preference to wants all the time. What I've found though is that the quickest path to fulfillment of my wants is through meeting my needs. Life gets simpler, less complicated, the choices become much easier to wade through, I get to know myself better quicker.

Lately my mind has been tripping over comparative words that I and others use, such as 'better' and 'best'. Thinking about a friend's statement "I want to be a better person": this is how I spend a lot of my life, judging myself as not quite good enough or there yet... I am not interested in being better or the best I can possibly be. This moment and the choices I make now is all that really matters: if I meet my basic human needs in this moment I will be acting in a manner that ensures my survival and that will help me thrive, both in the now and in the long term, as an individual and as a member of my community.

That doesn't mean I don't make mistakes, interpret information inadequately or inappropriately or trip myself up - I do that frequently. And that's how I learn - by not be perfect.

'Want' brings the realm of choice into the area of meeting needs. I don't think there was ever a time it was a choice to meet our basic needs as humans... However, we lucky people living in our developed countries have become so accustomed to living lives of luxury we have removed ourselves from understanding and knowing what our basic needs are: when kings and emperors and the ruling class did this in times of old their empires crumpled as they became feeble-minded and corrupt, mental states which in part stem from a lack of any truly meaningful to do in a day. Fear is a tool used by those so disconnected from nature to prop up the perception of power that maintains their silly and self destructive lifestyles.

A natural education, led by understanding our nature and the nature of elements and interactions around us, is what is most needed now. We need to get back in touch with our nature and what we truly need. Wants are a distraction from the main game and the time we spend pursuing only delays the necessary inevitable adjustment.

I love how we can sit and chat about stuff like this over the internet or in our homes. My grandmother never had this kind of luxury - she could only dream about living like the 'upper classes' yet I am considered to be living on an income below the poverty line here in Australia. I am free to discuss philosophy at any time of the day whereas she would probably only find time at the end of the day and instead of doing that would choose sleep. Meanwhile, as I type this, a million tons of unbelievably high radioactive water seeps into the Pacific Ocean with unknown effects on the food chain on which billions of people are dependent and the proponents of nuclear power spend countless millions on propaganda to convince us that nuclear power is the solution to climate change...

It is only by holding the big picture in my mind that I feel empowered to make the changes that are necessary to ensure my survival.

Love and lack of judgment are so necessary to healthy development and growth. When we stray from meeting our basic needs we move into dis-ease and confusion. We can want to meet our basic needs, but meeting them in the now, focusing on making choices that truly honour our bodies, the environment in which we live and our growing sense of self within a supportive community makes more sense. Instead of saying and visualising 'what do I want to feel okay, at peace, whatever', say 'what do I need now to feel okay, at peace, whatever'. Just naming it is often enough to bring that state into being. Recognising how I am feeling and naming it, accepting the feeling as valid in the here and now, reduces the confusion in my mind, and I am able to ask for what I need. When I am clear to others about my needs others are more able to help me meet my needs. Recognising what I need and naming it - no matter what I need - brings clarity and motivation and I move in the direction that brings that need into realisation.
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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And, of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!
Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Will Your Children Homeschool Their Children?

by Beverley Paine
The yardstick for success as a home educating parent used to be if your kids grew up 'okay' or made it into university: now people want to know if my adult home educated children are going to home educate their children... The pressure to perform never ends! In the last year or two it is a question I am being asked more often. At first it seemed innocent enough but then I began to think, what is driving this need to ask? Is it yet another expression of the insecurity we home educators all experience? 
It is hard not to feel the pressure or to put pressure on our kids, especially for those of us who continue to be strident home education activists...
I've moved beyond wanting that reality for my grandchildren into accepting that my children will make the decision that suits the needs of their children and their families - just as I hold that space open for everyone I talk to about education. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to walk a different educational path with my children and celebrate what that gave us as a family. But it was my journey much more than it was their journey - they came along for the ride because ultimately the choice to home educate was mine. As it will be theirs... 
A friend commented to me the other day, "To those of us who've read your books and heard you speak, your children are 'characters' from the story of your experiences. We're naturally curious about what comes next for them where education is concerned. Relating it, of course to our own children and wondering how they will reflect on the choices we're making for them."
I don't see my children as 'characters' from the story of my experience and I'm sure they don't either.
As a reader I rarely want to know what happens next to characters - if the story was good enough it would satisfy me. As a writer I find it intrusive for people to want me to write sequels - for me, and for the characters in my stories, the story finishes on the last page. If the characters have something else to learn or do they demand I write more - the reader doesn't come into the equation.
For me the point of home education was to launch our children into adult life as capable people who can confidently determine their own paths. Being asked the question if my children will home educate their children steps beyond this: it does put pressure on me to validate home education as an option, particularly as my chosen role in life is to publicly promote and support the idea and option of home education. It may be an innocent question born of mere curiosity by some people (and I am being asked this question so often now I doubt that mere curiosity is the main reason) but it falls into the same uncomfortable area as 'what do your children do' (as in employment, tertiary aspirations, etc). Never felt comfortable about talking about my children's futures - that's for them to talk about not me. And I invariably get it wrong any way!
We shouldn't need grown-up home educated children home educating their children to validate the effectiveness of home education or to feel reassured about own choices: putting the question out there does raise this spectre of doubt and does evoke subtle pressure to perform (if not by me, then perhaps by others whose children are not yet adults listening to the question) even if it is not the conscious desire of the person asking the question.
I tell people that the decision to home educate is made by both parents and that beyond being the wonderful support I am for whatever decision is made I have no role in that decision.

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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And, of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser...
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts

 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Home Education: Lifestyle Choice Not a Religion

by Beverley Paine

Home education - homeschooling, unschooling, radical unschooling, natural learning - is a lifestyle and educational choice not a religion extolling us all to simply believe or have faith or trust that all will be well if we follow the 'right' path as announced by enthusiastic individuals excited by their own experiences.

As a lifestyle, like any other, as parents we are required to actively think and reflect on our actions and decisions and respond accordingly to meet our changing needs and those of our situation, circumstance and environment.

Uncritically following a rigid 'this is the path, do not deviate or else' approach preached by popular or self-appointed gurus leads to disappointment after the initial period of euphoria passes.

Home educators are vulnerable to hard and soft selling techniques proclaiming that if they do this or that they and their children will be better off, experience more success, or more joy in their lives.

Never let someone who does not know you or family intimately tell you that your past or present parenting or educating practices are abusive simply because they do not match that person's idea of 'perfect'.

We are all on parenting journeys, learning all the time, exploring and experimenting, becoming gradually aware as we make many 'mistakes' and get it 'wrong' countless times working to meet our children's and our own needs and those of the community in which we live.

We are all amazing wonderful people working hard and conscientiously doing something that is not appreciated, understood or valued by our peers. Remember that and be strong. Find your own path and what works for you and your children. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way: there is only learning. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Is There a Difference Between Unschooling and Natural Learning?

by Beverley Paine, Homeschool Australia

I definitely see a difference between unschooling and natural learning - my experience of the recent Unschooling Conference brought this into sharp focus for me. I posted this on my Homeschool Australia Facebook page in response to a question yesterday and once the National Home Ed Week Online Conferences are over and I'm home again, I'll be writing some more about my reflections on the Unschooling Conference - it was awesome and we definitely need events of this calibre happening around Australia at least annually!

My definition of natural learning is based on the nature of the child and the nature of learning rather than something we do or don't do with or to them... It's learning based on needs rather than wants. I see it as completely different to unschooling - unschooling is something we chose to do, natural learning is something we are all already doing. I think John Holt was talking about natural learning in his books How Children Learn and How Children Fail when he began to encourage people to trust in children's ability to learn without being taught.

For me, unschooling is choosing to let go of the need to overtly 'teach', especially for the sake of teaching or because of arbitrary standards or extrinsic goals - abandoning traditional educational approaches/methodologies and values. To get there one has to go through a process of deschooling, unless one has been unschooled since birth. But even then I think we pick up enough societal values (that don't make sense) and that deschooling is a process that is life long!!

John Holt definitely advocated for getting out of the way of the learning process - he saw what we tend to do as parents and teachers is mess up the natural learning that is already occuring, often causing huge problems which we then say belong to or arise from the child!

We're all going to do this anyway - we can't help interfering in our children's natural learning processes, especially if we aren't consciously in touch with our own. Plus we're all 'learner' parents and educators - none of our kids come with a user's manual!! Imagine how wonderful that would be - say if the placenta birthed and magically opened and had all the instructions tailored for this particular child, catering to his or her unique needs, disposition, temperament and personality with 'what to do when and/or if' different situations arise!! That would be nice! But it ain't going to happen so we learn by making a billion brilliant beautiful mistakes for which our children happily forgive us, provided we are attentive aware parents dedicated to consciously learning from those mistakes.

We interfere every day in unconscious and subconscious ways in our children's learning: our values determine what kind of life we lead, what type of house we live in (or not), how much money we have available for whatever purchases we want or need to make - all these things pre-determine what our children will experience and from birth our children have very little input. Our circumstances determine how our children will be educated and nurtured as much as anything else. Of course, we have choice - we can change our circumstances, but if we are to be authentic people, meeting our own needs, that necessarily produces compromise.

I love the way our children immediately compromise our lives from the minute we conceive them! That is a huge learning leap for most of us! Life is full of give and take when we focus on meeting needs - we aim for a win/win outcome as often as possible and gradually learned not to fret too much if that wasn't possible.

So unschooling is letting go of the need to do things that don't make immediate sense to us or the child - if we can find a rationale that satisfies us or the child as to why something must be done (or in a particular way) then let it go - it's not important! Children respond to reason - especially if their brilliant brains and bodies aren't bogged down with unnecessary unhelpful stress, particularly emotional stress. Children love having things explained to them and love contributing to the discussion - it can be really hard with little people but the effort is worth it.

Natural learning happens anyway - children at school often learn things the teachers and system least want them to, usually because schools are learning deserts, devoid of meaning and value and resources. There isn't much for kids to do but learn the stuff we'd rather they didn't! Their brains and bodies are itching to learn, driven by nature to learn. Give a child something constructive to do and value their efforts and they'll naturally be cooperative, friendly, helpful. They totally appreciate being treated as people.

I find it very unhelpful to define unschooling as the same as natural natural learning because I want homeschoolers and schoolers to see that no matter what their children are learning. I come at it from the position of feeling distressed every time I hear someone say that children need to learn how to learn, or learn how to think - they already do these things brilliantly - until we interfere too much and teach them how to shut down these exceptional skills.

Unschooling is choosing not to do certain things with or to our children, but at the same time it is choosing to do things in a certain way with our children. The pre-fix 'un' is often translated as 'hands off' or a 'do nothing' approach to education. What I often see with people new to the idea of unschooling though is the complete opposite, even though they believe they are not intervening at all: children are plied with an incredible and sometimes bewildering array of choices, particularly if the parent is worried they aren't meeting the child's wants or needs. This often provokes unnecessary stress in many children which interferes with their natural learning ability.

Natural learning brings the focus back to the nature of the child, the nature of the situation - from here we can help them determine what is needed, or simply meet those needs without fuss.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Proud to be a Hard-core Home Educator

Lately I've been going through a hard-core home educator phase - I know that there are really truly fantastic and wonderful parents who opt to put their children through the school experience and who believe it was and is okay and really good for them, blah, blah, blah. And I know LOTS of young people in their 20s who went to school and are lovely people - as lovely as my wonderful three. But I am going through this very intolerant phase right now where I think of all the time and opportunities wasted during those school years and of the unlearning that needs to be done to break through those useless assumptions that will dog their lives for years to come... And they are the ones that have a chance of challenging those assumptions because their parents obviously put the time and energy and care that was needed. There are plenty of other young people I know who startle me with their ignorance, apathy, attitude - and sadden me as I watch them fall into despair and harm's way. Far from protecting these children from not so brilliant parenting and giving them choice and a chance school reinforced the self-esteem destroying messages these children were exposed to from an early age.

Albeit along with a lot of other factors, school is implicitly responsible for the woes in our society. Which is why I'm going through a hard-core home educator phase at the moment! I usually don't like to be so militant in my approach -I work hard to be inclusive and supportive. However, seeing young people with messed up lives makes me angry - I want to blame someone and so I blame the parents and the schools and the teachers and the whole school system. Humanity can do so much better than this - and does! Home education, in its modern revision, has proven beyond doubt that there is a gentler, kinder and saner way to bring up and educate young people. It is time the school system started looking at why we are succeeding and natural socialisation is one of the main reasons. Perhaps then I'd feel less angry and frustrated and more hopeful for the future.

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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Addictive Socialisation

by Beverley Paine

From birth we are conditioned by the school system that being in the company of same aged children is normal socialisation. It isn't. It's warped and very unnatural. No one hangs out with people all the same age year after year for 12-15 years, or didn't until compulsory education arrived only a dozen generations ago. However because of systematic brainwashing of successive generations schooled societies have come to believe that it is is 'normal' socialisation.

If every child was forced to drink cola for 12-15 years and the natural alternative, water, was frowned on, drinking cola would become the social norm - after half a few generations people would take it for granted that cola was essential to healthy development, even though there was mounting evidence that in these compulsory and large doses it actually harmed people. A few people would find cola doesn't affect them very much, but the majority would become addicted to some of its elements. Almost everyone would not consider they were addicted and would claim that drinking cola is beneficial, essential - to not drink it would be very damaging both short and long term!

School socialisation is like that. We were socialised in this way and it is hard for us to feel okay about allowing our children to socialise differently. We were taught that not having special friends our own age means we are social failures. The more special friends of our own age we have the more successful we are - success based on popularity. Because school is a competitive environment based on comparison the values upon which friendships are based are often distorted. If our best friend is in another class next year she no longer is demoted to simply friend. The frequency of how often we spend time in her company is important to maintaining this kind of friendship. If her parents can't afford or won't let her keep up with the latest fad then in order to protect our 'image' we drift even further away. It isn't socially good for us to be seen hanging out with 'losers'. We won't win the popularity contest that socialisation has become if we do...

Schools are deliberately structured this way. By alienating people from natural social situations, where friends are selected based on compatibility, interests, personal growth needs and companionship it is possible to manipulate whole sections of the population. In the early years of school the bond between the child and the family (parents and siblings) need to be undermined so that the teacher and principal and school can replace the natural authority and responsibility of the family in order to manage large numbers of children. Break the loyalty and ties to family and you create additional consumers down the track, fodder for the 'economy'. In traditional societies where family bonds remain intact people share, in fact, whole communities share expensive resources and resources are recycled (that's the way its been for millennium).

If our children have been in the school system then they have been exposed to this very powerful addictive socialisation process. The fact that we, their parents, have also been exposed and are in recovery means we are very vulnerable to self-doubt. We feel that what we are doing and asking of our children is radical, an experiment. In fact, in terms of human history compulsory schooling with its abnormal socialisation is the experiment. Given the increasing stress levels in society and accumulating incidences of mental illness I'd say the experiment is failing...

When we deschool our children and worry enormously that we're not meeting their needs, we can think about the cola example above. Our child might not be affected yet (or at all) by the addictive socialisation prevalent in society thanks to compulsory schooling and the attitude and beliefs it engenders. She might simply be an wonderfully social child who definitely needs a range of people in her life every day to thrive plus regular access to one or two special friends who are at the same developmental stage of life (not necessarily the same age!) Or she might be like the rest of us, craving something we've been coerced to believe we need, but when given in bulk and without alternatives, wears us out, makes us fractious and irritable, and leaves us confused, but still craving more. 

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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

A Week's Worth of Reading - Many things home educational!


Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful home educating dads across Australia and beyond!
Today’s blog is simply an eclectic collection of links I’ve picked up over the past week – take your pick of and enjoy!  Thanks to all my friends who send these links my way… Every day I learn something new, revisit old lessons and grow some more! 
Teaching Empathy at Home and School – Can Schools Teach Empathy was the impetus for my last blog post and started me thinking about the benefits of home education yet again. So many benefits! 
Climb, Swing & Snuggle: Reading Readiness Involves the Whole Body discusses a subject I feel strongly about – allowing children plenty of time and space and encouragement to move. It is too easy for everyone to neglect this vital aspect of being alive!
Free Homeschooling Ideas, Activities and Resources : Inspiring ideas for creative home educating - free activities, resources, worksheets and information
Our Spring Nature Tables : more great ideas from Rhythm of the Home ezine, great for anyone interested in Montessori or Waldorf approaches to home education.
My friend Wendy has been busy blogging on different subjects:
Have a look at 7 year old Spiral’s Sing With Spiral blog! If you have a blog or know of any home educated children with blogs, let me know and I’ll add them to my Australian Homeschoolers Blogs page.
I enjoy dropping by at Parent at the Helm: Linda's articles are usually either reassuring or thought-provoking but always informative. This one is a favourite: Homeschooling Doesn’t TAKE Time, It MAKES Time
And I participated in an online conversation about how adults talk – or should talk – to girls and boys in relation to gender stereotyping provoked by Don’t Dumb Girls Down in the Sydney Morning Herald and my friend Jo’s excellent blog on how to talk to boys: http://unboundedocean.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/sunday-unschool-how-to-talk-to-little-boys/#comment-368
I am great fan of Ken Robinson, have been for a long time. It came as no surprise to me that he is a passionate advocate of personalised learning based on the way students (of any age!) learn: http://www.vancouversun.com/mobile/iphone/story.html?id=5298060. See also his TED talk.

Some of the ideas in this blog relate to home educating as well as school education: The Innovative Educator: Back to School Dos and Don’ts. Most of them we already know and do, but a gentle reminder now and then never hurts!
Everyone loves to read anything about home education written by someone who was home educated! Stories in the media such as I Was Homeschooled: What it Taught Me That a Classroom Never Could are a lot more reassuring and encouraging than anything written by their parents!  Thank you Kate Fridkis for this excellent article.
Another convert to home educating life! Why we switched to Home School. Adding this one to my International Blogs page – if you have any favourite blogs by overseas home educators email the urls to me and I’ll add them too.
RESOURCES
Don’t forget to look into the annual Premier’s Reading Challenge – this link came up for the SA Challenge but there is one held in every state. http://www.premiersreadingchallenge.sa.edu.au/prc/
Geradine shared these links suitable for older home ed students looking at tertiary studies:
And while we’re on the subject of tertiary education, 5 reasons a college degree won’t help your business echoes my beliefs on the subject.  
Alternative Learning Centers is a group for anyone interested in alternative learning centers as a choice for those who want a choice of learning environments outside of traditional school options.
Eclectic Homeschooling is a new FaceBook page by Joanne, a Californian homeschooling mom.
Unschoolers' Arts Gallery is an online art gallery for unschooled youth of all ages from around the world – well worth a visit!
Some homeschoolers devise their own forms for recording elements of their home educating programs, others find the perfect ones online. This site has 823 (and counting!) forms… http://highland.hitcho.com.au/Forms.htm
Whoa! What a huge list of links and articles… and it is only half of what comes my way each week. There is so many excellent things to share with my home educating friends, which translates into the wonderful fact that the times really are a’changing! There are so many of us working hard to shift the education paradigm from school-centric to student-centric. Well done everyone!
All the best
Beverley 
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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can Schools Teach Empathy?

A friend posted a link to an article about teaching children empathy on Natural Learning Australia today.

The focus on 'success' at the start of the article brought to my attention Can Schools Teach Empathy instantly put me on guard. I have a lot of trouble with that word... I don't want my children (or me) to be successful. And I don't necessarily want us to be happy either. I know that we can't be both all the time but education sets up to have the expectation that it is possible if only we work or try hard enough and if we don't reach those goals there is something wrong with us. If we don't believe that (which is soul destroying stuff), we end up believe it is 'not our fault' and fall into the blaming/victim game.

'Be kind' is a 'nice' rule but some people define kindness differently. If I had to have one rule I'd chose 'be respectful'. Less open to being patronizing.

Schools have to teach these things - empathy, respect, ethics, morals - because one of the basic tenets of an institutionalized education system is to assume they don't have them in the first place - this is incredibly disrespectful and most kids are so confused by this they decide that what they do know and understand must be wrong and ditch it. In effect they become the 'blank slates' the school system assumes they are... This translates into more jobs, creation of more 'innovative' resources, more buildings, etc. Education is an industry with a vested interested in dumbing kids down. What saddens me is that almost everyone in the system truly believes they are doing the best they can to help children.

And the story concludes with a reference to the 'dog-eat-dog world' - another myth perpetuated by those who need to be in positions of power to do 'good'. Human nature is not enhanced by protectionist behaviour that promotes fearful attitudes. If we accept that children have advanced empathy from birth (that's obvious isn't it?) and learn from them how to repair and enhance our damaged empathic ability to build a world where bullying and intimidation aren't the norm.

Another fault I find with the thinking behind this article is the assumption that 'good' will prevail. I find 'good' a wishy-washy word, over used and not at all well-defined. Better to say what we need, actually find words which describe as accurately and precisely as possible what those needs are. 'It can't be good for me unless it is good for others' says very little at all. 'If it doesn't help me achieve my goal of feeling safe, then it won't help others feel safe' or 'Biting hurts me so I won't bite others because I don't like hurt'. Be specific. Good is a value laden word with moralistic overtones - too easy to misuse and confuse, especially young minds.


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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reassuring the Education Authorities with 'Evidence' of Learning - Recording Homeschooling

Leanne asked: "Are you really required to keep such school-like records to satisfy the government?"

Many families find it helps to keep records in an organised way throughout the year as it makes pulling a review and learning plan for the next year less daunting, plus - and more importantly - helps to maintain and build confidence that their children are progressing. Records can also help to defuse 'concern' shown by extended family and reassure working parents who don't see the huge amount of learning that happens throughout the day.

Generally speaking the authorities require to see evidence that education is actually taking place. Because the officers who handle home education registration and exemption applications are (for the most part) teacher trained, this usually means they want some kind of documentation, usually on paper. It is what they know and it reassures them.

Some people manage to fit their learning program on a couple of pages and some states (such as South Australia) provide fill-in-the-blank forms to complete. Other people provide a lot more. One family I knew wrote 13 pages covering the different educational programs for her four children and was told not to 'write
a thesis next time'... Less detail definitely seems to be preferred!

The 'evidence' doesn't have to be much... but it does have to be enough to demonstrate that your children are actually getting educated. For example, whatever you provide should show educational progress, this is why it is important to date 'work' samples or examples of learning (photos, videos, etc). Three pieces of writing collected every four months would be enough to show progress in some areas - perhaps composition skills, grammar, spelling - or the progression of logical thinking or problem solving skills. That one piece of writing could be from one subject area or cover several - all depends on the topics. The topics could be unrelated too but still show progress in one or more skill areas.

I kept anything mathematical my children produced (which as unschoolers wasn't a lot) - it showed that they were thinking mathematically and developing, testing and using their own calculating and problem solving strategies. Often these were 'workings out' on scrap pieces of paper or charts, maps, rules for games, etc.

We had 'scrapbooks' I pasted our meagre collection of 'records' into - at first, in the early years, there was one for each subject for each child, but as time progressed it became one big scrapbook for each child. I wrote comments in the scrapbook, largely to remind me of the situation or the insight or developmental
milestone the collected item represented. We also had a photo album that showed the children working and playing with other children (socialisation!)

My experience leads me to believe the paperwork is purely only used to reassure the authorities that you are aware of the responsibility you are taking on. From their perspective, if they are 'approving' someone to educate their children at home they need to be sure they aren't approving someone who is going to neglect
their children's educational, developmental and social needs. The way I see it, giving us permission means they take on some of the responsibility for the outcome... So basically the paperwork really only means that they've done their duty.

I developed my Weekly Homeschooling Diaries and Learning Naturally Diaries to help reduce and simplify the amount of record keeping for families, especially unschooling families. I personally think that jotting down notes about what the children are learning and doing should only take 5-10 minutes a day at the most. That was enough to reassure me and my husband and my kids, and over the year it amounted to a much more impressive 'report' and collection of evidence than we ever received from a school teacher...



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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

National Home Education Week WIN WIN WIN


WIN A FAMILY TRIP FOR FOUR TO ATTEND CAMPFEST 2012 in Albury - Attend the online daily conferences and workshops and receive a FREE entry for every workshop attended.



Do you want to know more about Home Education? Homeschooling is a legal and viable education alternate for Australian families. Join us to find out more and to get your questions answered.

National Home Education Week will occur during the week of 21st – 25th November 2011 and is a joint collaboration between Jenni Domansky of Australian Homeschool Network and Beverley Paine of Homeschool Australia.
Everyone is Welcome.
Thousand of Australian families are choosing to Home Educate their children. With numbers rising annually, this week-long series of daily information sessions will be invaluable for getting answers to your questions.
This event will be conducted online in the Australian Homeschool Network Online Chat Room and access will be available to ALL Australians – regardless of location. There will be daily online workshops and forums for anyone that is considering Home Education or for those who are new to Home Education and wanting to get more information.

For more details or to register your interest email nationalhomeedweek@gmail.com
 





National Home Education Week is Very Proudly Sponsored by the following Australian Homeschool Networks and Business's:Please offer them your support whenever possible.





What I am Reading Today - Saturday's Thoughts on Education and Parenting


Some thoughts on the need for approval from a reply I posted on Homeschooling / Unschooling / Home Education... all things Unplugged! yesterday: 
Kids only want approval if they are conditioned/trained to want it. If we don't teach our children to need or want approval then they don't seek it. Kids want support, recognition, acknowledgement, etc, not approval. They know they don't need our approval to feel okay about themselves and what they do.
Sometimes children's passions and interests line up with those of their parents, sometimes they don't. It is only natural for parents' interests and passions to be scaffolds for learning for children - no harm in that unless the parent restricts the children's activities. Children who are restricted in having their own learning needs met soon show resistance - this can be demonstrated as adverse behaviour, illness, boredom, depression, unhappiness. Parents who love their children seldom let their children fester in these states for very long - they encourage and support their children to pursue their own interests and passions.

I’m always learning and my online conversations with friends are one of my best learning tools. Today I had an insight about an important lesion I’m currently learning after reading Wendy’s blog called Cynicism is a Form of Resistance.  

Great blog on ‘open source learning’ from Radio Free School picks up on the free courses offered by Stanford University I mentioned the other day and quotes another favourite author, John Taylor Gatto.

And finally, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Free Range Food - How Do You Do It and Does It Work? by Teresa Graham Brett. Food is a sensitive issue for many parents because the health of our children depends on the quality of what goes in – this is true not only of food but many other things. And this constant focus can lead to a great deal of stress as well damaging feelings of guilt. We allowed our children relatively free range to food without going the whole way – I still controlled the purchases and would maneuver them away from what I considered undesirables while shopping. I wish I’d been more adventurous and less insecure though… Hindsight is great isn’t it? Luckily there is a lot more support for adventurous parents nowadays. If you are already on the unschooling/life learning path, consider adding free range food to your family diets. It is never too late – in fact, I’m going to give up feeling guilty and start totally free ranging myself as from today! 

cheers
Beverley
Homeschool Australia
proudly affiliated with Always Learning Books

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I am Reading Today - Thursday's Thoughts on Education

I am feeling revived and revitalized after reading Laura’s blog, A Day Like No Other – really puts my problems into perspective!

What I love most about learning is that I am constantly reminded that everything that I have learned so far isn’t necessarily fact or truth: anything can change and frequently does! Black Death study lets rats off the hook: A study by an archaeologist looking at the ravages of the Black Death in London, in late 1348 and 1349, has exonerated the most famous animal villains in history.

In the northern hemisphere summer holidays are over and it is the first week or so of school. Millions of children will be starting school for the first time. Our family were lucky: we discovered home education before our eldest turned six and when we did venture onto the school grounds we picked a school that let us attend with our children – homeschool at school! My thoughts echo those of one of my all-time-favourite home education authors, Wendy Priesnitz,   I live for the day when the supports are in place so that children can maintain the close physical and emotional attachment they need as long as necessary, and are given the freedom to explore the world at their own pace...no matter what their age.” Read the rest of her blog The First Day of School and explore the rest of her thoughtful and informative website: www.wendypriesnitz.com

I had to pass on this link to the Essential Parenting site – it says in a nutshell many of the parenting practices I feel I learned the hard way through experience!

And another  site worth taking a peep at is Early Play Australia, which aims to be "a great place to connect all those involved in early childhood in Australia".

And this is for everyone who asks me if their homeschooled children will be able to get into university, etc… Education is changing, faster than our school system can handle. Every year I read about tertiary courses and subjects being made available free through online learning. Stanford University is now offering limited certificate courses for free.  “We want to open our lectures and bring education to places that can’t be reached today, to people that haven’t had access to higher education,” said Professor Sebastian Thrun, artificial intelligence lecuture from the engineering science department at Stanford University. 124,000 students have enrolled in his free class…Stanford for Everyone: More Than 120,000 Enroll in Free Classes. 
  
Until tomorrow, 
all the best
Beverley