Friday, January 09, 2015

So, You Want to Homeschool - the Best Place to Start... A Defining Task!

by Beverley Paine,
author Getting Started with Home Schooling Practical Considerations

I've had a few inquiries recently from families interested in homeschooling but not sure exactly what homeschooling is...

How I define homeschooling usually involves talking more about how to go about homeschooling rather than a simple description because essentially home educating looks and is different for every family.

Many families come to the idea of home education with 'school-at-home' firmly in their minds and some are surprised to learn that it isn't correspondence school or 'school-of-the-air'. Some families are looking for a supervised education where the child is sent a package of books and assignments to complete and send back and some ask me if I mark children's works and give grades and will they receive any completion certificates.

It's not surprising that many families begin with these thoughts because this form of education is often all we've ever experienced. In addition, the authorities that regulate home education and register students usually reinforce this schooled image of education. The practice of home education can be very different to what happens in a classroom and reflects what we, the educating parents and our children, need and value.

As home educators the best place to start is not by looking for answers to the question 'what is home education' from others but by asking yourself - and perhaps your child if he or she is old enough. Take some time to define 'education' and explore what the concept means to you. Work out what you want education to deliver in terms of goals: goals for this week, this month, for the rest of this year and perhaps until your child reaches adulthood.

This thinking task might keep you busy for at least a week - that's how long I spent pondering it way back in 1985 when we first learned that it was possible for our child to educated outside of school. Defining what education means for you and your family will give you a basis from which to develop a foundation upon which to grow an educational framework tailored to your children's individual needs and your unique family situation. It is a solid place from which to start looking for home educating methods, approaches, and resources. And it will save you money as well as effort: the plethora of resources and materials on offer for home educating families, most emotively marketed can be overwhelming. Developing your own learning plan isn't as difficult or onerous as it first appears. There are dozens of online support groups with experienced families ready to offer tips, links to resources and help with putting together your application for approval as a home educator. Defining what education means and is for your family is the first step to building a unique and wonderful learning experience that builds towards YOUR goals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Living simply - an attitude?

by Beverley Paine

There is a graphic doing the Facebook rounds at the moment... 
"I want to live simply. I want to sit by the window when it rains and read books I'll never be tested on. I want to pain because I want to, not because I've got something to prove. I want to listen to the my body, fall asleep when the moon is high and wake slowly, with no place to rush off to. I want to not be governed by money or clocks or any of the artificial restraints that humanity imposes on itself. I just want to be, boundless and infinite."

(This. #freedom #simplicity via @Jessainscough)
Living simply is an attitude. We are or we aren't. If we are then our choices and decisions reflect that. If we aren't then clutter invades all the spaces in our lives.

I reworded the poster, as an exercise to see how it changed how the comments 'feel'.

"I live simply. I sit by the window when it rains and read books I won't be tested on. I paint because I want to not because I have something to prove. I listen to my body, fall asleep when the moon is high and wake slowly, with no place to rush to. I am not governed by money or clocks or any of the artificial restraints that humanity seeks to impose on itself. I am, boundless and infinite."

'I choose to live simply. To sit by the window when it rains, read books, be tested or not tested if I wish. I paint. I listen to my body, fall asleep when the moon is high, wake slowly. I choose to rush or not rush, go where I need. I choose to respond and react to money and clocks in whatever way meets my needs. I am boundless and infinite.'

We can change our attitude so that we perceive that we are creators of our path through life rather than perceiving life happening to us.


Wait...what? You want to read more? Beverley has written hundreds of articles about home education since 1985... Check them out at The Educating Parent or visit her daughter's online bookstore Always Learning Books. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm Not Going to Let my Child Fall Behind

by Beverley Paine

"Falling behind"... so many of us worry about our children not keeping up with their peers in school.

Think about it for a minute though. When we were at school, was everyone in the class learning at the same level? No. Did they all understand the work being done? No. Were some far ahead and some trailing behind? Yes. And what happened? Those that were ahead stayed ahead and those that fell behind never caught up. And that is just as true of today's classrooms as it was back then.

Our child may slot into a classroom of his or her same age peers if returned to school (for whatever reason) ahead in some areas of understanding, ability and knowledge and behind in others compared to his or her peers. As would a child moving from interstate or overseas. And it's been like this as long as there have been classrooms full of children. The difference is that the home educated child will be supported by his or her parents, and especially to feel confident that he or she will quickly catch up and learn whatever is needed to be learned in that environment in order to continue to progress. Home educated children also have another advantage: they are usually more self-directed and self-motivated than schooled children, although this may not always be apparent to the parent!

At home that child won't have to play the catch up game because he or she will be too busy learning what is important to him or her, filling in any gaps when and if the need arises (which it often doesn't). And over time, he or she will be surprised to discover that it's almost impossible to not to obtain a comprehensive education simply living and playing in the world, doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, as well as exploring, discovering, investigating, inventing, creating and playing. 

"Falling behind" is a concept we rarely come across in adult life: once we leave schools behind we stop worrying about this sense of "falling behind." As adults when we want to learn something we simply learn it, at a pace that suits our needs and circumstances. Even if we set a schedule or a deadline for completion we don't say we're "falling behind": we either adjust our behaviour or the schedule.

And we can only be "falling behind" if we've set both a goal and a schedule and have some idea what completion will look like. And that's the purpose of a curriculum. As home educators we can set our own goals, our own schedules and describe what completion will look like. At the beginning of our home education adventure, after thinking carefully about what education meant to us, we wrote a series of statements that stood true and guided us as home educators for the next 18 years:

Although we may need to reference state or national curricula when applying or renewing registration as home educators, we follow the personal 'curriculum' we develop to suit our individual children's and families' needs. My guiding statements kept me thinking about why we'd chosen to home educate our children, especially during those times when I'd start worrying about "doing enough", or if my children were "falling behind". It would remind me that I had until my children reached late adolescence, not next week or the end of this year, to achieve those nagging goals. That, instead of ticking a series of sets of skill or specific knowledge off a list that may or may not be appropriate to whatever area of life my young adult would explore next, we were focusing on building values, character, a sense of identify, confidence, tolerance and self-awareness.


Wait...what? You want to read more? Beverley has written hundreds of articles about home education since 1985... Check them out at The Educating Parent or visit her daughter's online bookstore Always Learning Books. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Growing a Growth Mindset...

My list... what I'd like others to say or do to me to help me grow my 'growth mindset'. A response to a list I saw on Hackschooling that was shared on the Unschool Australia FB group.

1. Instead of praise, thank me for my effort.

2. Let me know that what I do and who I am is appreciated.

3. Share your fears and joys with me, tell me it's okay to have both.

4. Tell me that it's not what I do or how I do it, or how it all turns out, but that I'm there, having a go, that counts.

5. Encourage me to work playfully and play workfully: enough already of this 'hard' but 'rewarding' BS!

6. If you see me stressed or sad, give me a hug, help me turn my frown upside-down!

7. Tell me I'm okay as I am, often.

8. Remind me that life isn't precise, perfect, definite - it's a fuzzy, wuzzy, timey, wimey kind of thing - mistakes are simply learning opportunities.

9. Remind me again to play at work and work at play. Loosen up, don't take everything so seriously and over-think or analyse things.

10. Give me a hug, forgive and tell me when I get stuck in dogma.

11. Have a go. Take a deep breath and have another go, and remind me it's okay to ask for help.

12. Life is awesome when we're part of a team, we're all winners.

13. Help me when I am insecure and lacking confidence, remind me that winning and being rewarded and finishing are cool, but that having a go is more important.

14. Notice the effort I make when it's not critical or important as well as my attempts when it is. Just notice it, don't praise or reward me, just say 'hey, thanks, really appreciate that'

15. Remind me to flip my attitude switch, help me to do that with humour or simply by helping me, doing whatever it is I'm doing with me - infect me with your joyous mood.

16. We're all in this together - let's help each other lift the mood, stay positive and constructive, create a welcome zone for everyone!

17. Let's out it when we see it - help each other identify bias and stereotypes and dogma.

18. Encourage me to have a go, make space and time for me to do it in a way that meets my learning needs.

19. Let your infectious gratitude mood wash over me! Help me find the silver linings...

20. Heya, let's connect, give me a hug!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Speed Reading: Do I Want to Read at 500 words per minute?

by Beverley Paine

This morning I had a look at an article that enticed me to use an app that would increase my reading speed: This Insane New App Will Allow You To Read Novels In Under 90 Minutes.

I was a little skeptical, especially looking at the exceptionally light weight novel in the image - few adults I know read novels with less than 300 pages, so it wasn't your typical novel they were highlighting with that graphic! But I gave the little reading exercise on the page a go anyway, curious.
At 350 words per minute I was missing seeing some key words in the sentences. At 500 words per minute my brain wasn't taking in the message. Reading comprehension is my concern with reading at increased speeds.

I find that people (including me) often don't take the time to read what is written, often scanning the sentence and making assumptions about the meaning, direction or content of the communication. They do the same when listening to verbal communication too. This is an attention problem. It leads to miscommunication.

The quality of written text is being degraded considerably due to speed writing (texting enables this but is not the only cause - I believe an emphasis on writing exactly what we think or how we speak is also doing this). What will happen to the efficacy of communication when speed writing is combined with speed reading?