Advice of others

Preparing Registration:
Vanessa Preston At age 6 some children are enrolled in Yr 1 or 2 at school, so don't worry if you are teaching at that level. Basically we are to assess our children's needs and plan from there. Nobody would expect you to teach what your child already knows.

I stil
l do the same now (with ages 8-9) as I did at my first rego ... for each KLA I write a brief intro paragraph stating what skills my child currently has (eg. E can do xyz; He has demonstrated competence in most/ all outcomes for Stage 2 and some Stage 3); I state what skills he will work on next (eg. E. will consolidate skills in xyz for Stage 2 and will continue to work on Stage 3 and 4 outcomes). If it's a content subject like S&T or HSIE, I mention topics we will probably look at (probably half based on the children's interests, and half loosely based on the syllabus content) ... if need be I can talk to the AP about how our interest-based learning will meet and exceed the BOS requirements.

After that paragraph I have a list of resources we will use to achieve our goals, grouped by type (workbooks, books we'll read, audiobooks, music & DVDs, experiences, games, excursions etc). This is not definitive, as we are always adding library books and changing to suit developing interests, but it shows our intentions and that we have adequate resources.

I always have some work samples to show, and that has been enough evidence that my children are progressing steadily, albeit at their own asynchronous pace.

My fave posts from Leonie Westenberg... 

And so they write

They write?

Yes, my sons write. For themselves, for work, for university, for life.

How did they grow to become writers?

“Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot. 2. Write a lot. 3. Read a lot more, write a lot more.”
Robert Silverberg (author)

They write?

Yes, my sons write. For themselves, for work, for university, for life.

How did they grow to become writers?

“Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot.

We read a lot, from the time they were babies, I shared books with my sons.

We wrote a lot. From the time they were toddlers, we had scrapbooks and journals, for cutting and pasting and scribbling and for mum to scribe their stories.

We had writing and journaling nooks, with paper and pretty notebooks and coloured pencils and textas and mum wrote and drew, too.

We made books, homemade books.

We blogged. We wrote reviews on Amazon. We entered competitions. We wrote letters and emails.

We read and we wrote.

And that grew writers.

If I could tell a new homeschool mum one thing…

If I could tell a new homeschool mum one thing, it would be… to give it ( whatever it is) Time.

Time. The biggest secret in homeschooling/unschooling.

Time for a child to mature, so that the boy who hates writing at age six (“why do I have to do this”) is just given time to mature, no pressure to write, just sharing books together until one day he finds his voice and writes and blogs.

If I could tell a new homeschool mum one thing, it would be… to give it ( whatever it is) Time.

Time. The biggest secret in homeschooling/unschooling.

Time for a child to mature, so that the boy who hates writing at age six

Time for the shared experiences to be shared, to shape the child, to allow him to explore, think, play, be a child…so that he chooses, as a teen, to study ancient languages at a university winter school and needs no nagging about homework. He has had time to find out what he likes and how he learns.

Time to spend with family and friends, exploring persona (today it’s Batman, tomorrow it is a Roman soldier), learning how to interact with others, to control temper, to think of others, to learn about self.

Time to read and read together without school schedules and have-tos.

Time for that stubborn toddler to grow into a self disciplined, determined young man. Time for that very sensitive child to grow into a young man who thinks deeply and spiritually.

Time to cook, to do crafts, to play games, to climb trees, to visit and re-visit museums and libraries, to learn.

And time for mum to realise that things that seem major and crisis making and overwhelming now will pass.

Time has been my homeschooling secret. Regardless of circumstances and living situations, I have learned to give myself and my kids time.

I wish unschooling for everyone..

We recently had a discussion on our Unschooling Catholics email list…on that ubiquitious statement, oh so familiar to all homeschoolers with an unschooling bent…Unschooling sounds great but *I* could never do it.Maybe the speaker couldn’t. Or shouldn’t.Or maybe they should and could…if they are willing to step out of their box.I’m on my seventh teenage unschooler here.. And my thought and experience is that unschooling works with relationship and time.

Time because a child who does not pick up a book at age eight can become a a teen studying liberal arts at university and reading and enjoying philosophy and theology… And yes, I am describing one of my sons! 

I would strew books that he would never pick up unless they were non fiction full-of-pictures DK and Usborne books. However, we kept reading aloud and listening to books on CD and watching movie versions of books and letting him follow his interests… Which when he was young was all about the outdoors and activity. 

So I think Unschooling works best over time. Time because it takes awhile for “no strings attached” strewing to take… By no strings I mean that I really don’t mind if no one takes up my strewing but instead strews their own stuff. And with expectations off, my sons have been more likely to explore new ideas and activities and books.

Relationship because that has been the way Unschooling works in our house. It has enhanced our relationships because we spent time together not doing school but reading aloud, watching movies, drawing, cooking, going to parks and outings and talking. 

It’s this quantity time that is sometimes missing when mums and kids are rushing to do school and then to homeschool activities. And yet this quantity time has been the biggest aid to our learning… so one son, who used to make a big fuss about any sort of formal work when young is the one who is now at university, writing essays and talking to me about chastity and celibacy and how he doesn’t think celibacy would be so hard as your mind, his mind, is on other things.. At the moment Cicero. (!) Now, he was the one who you could have said would not be a poster child for Unschooling, would spend oodles of time on computer games and make a big fuss about chores and really did spend a year or two around age sixteen or so just playing games and hanging out ( and doing chores and serving at mass and helping in the parish). 

Or let me give an example of another son ( did I mention I have seven sons…thus many examples!) who was also a non writer and often a non reader. But who grew, however, into reading Shakespeare as a teen, who has a degree and now works in politics, works hard, long hours and yet still finds time to go to mass or confession on weekdays as well. 

Are they perfect? No.
Were they the perfect poster unschooler kids? No.
Were we the perfect unschooler poster family? No, not with our problems, financial problems, moving many many times, mum’s health problems and miscarriages, unemployment, extended family crises, months where we did nothing but chores and watch movies and read and cook and eat. And I went through stages of let’s try this ( CM or classical or curriculum) but we always came back to just living and learning.

Where am I going with this? 

That I would wish Unschooling for everyone.That blossoming of self and interests and relationships. Unschooling tweaked to suit each family but Unschooling where the child and family are more important than is he reading, is he doing maths, can he meet these outcomes? Ad infinitum. In my experience, the unschooled children can meet outcomes, over time, with a good relationship ( “darling , for uni you will need more maths and writing so how about we try x and y… “…Easily suggested and more likely to be taken up when relationship in place) and with tweaking to suit each child and family. 

Unschooling has brought me to my knees, to my Faith, to the sacraments , many many times… Heck, I became a Catholic! Me! It’s that trust in Our Lord, in the Holy Spirit’s workings in my life and in the life of my kids, in the graces of the sacraments. 

So my answer to is Unschooling for everyone is.. It’s up to the parent!Are you prepared to read more, pray more, live with your kids, daily give more of yourself, move out of your comfort zone, educate yourself, give it a good long try, no strings attached!?For Unschooling requires effort as the vocation of mothering requires effort .. Effort and prayer… It’s just that the effort is spent in time with the child and family and not with curriculum and programmes. And the rewards are manifold.

Regarding your children in terms of virtues

It helps me not to think of my kids in terms of education ( one son is into history, one doesn’t like writing, ) but in terms of virtues ( patience, prudence, fortitude, and so on ) and in terms of character traits ( friendly, quiet) and who they are right now as people. This kind of thought changes my mindset, away from school, and onto the idea of Charlotte Mason that children are born persons. Thinking of children as persons means we think of who they are and what they need; we encourage and acknowledge their input; we don’t see them as blank slates on which to write.

Even at work, I see this in my students. I do not mould them; I work with them and guide and instruct and sometimes discipline. I get to know them as people, first.


... Obedience can be a touchy word in homeschooling, unschooling circles. Do we, should we, make our children obey? How much choice, how much reliance on free will, do we give our children?

And does obedience have to conjure up images of a strict parent, standing over a child, breaking a will?In fact, as Fr pointed out yesterday, we all have free will. We all make chocies. Some for good. Some for bad. For better or for worse.In one sense, you could almost say that obedience is trust.Trust in another’s person’s rightful authority, in their decisions, in their love.I don’t really make my teens obey. I never really overly enforced obedience over little things when they were little themselves .I trusted in their love, their wish to please, I tried to lead them to the right things. I gave them choices over many things. So, ultimately, when obedience was necessary, obedience wasn’ t unduly hard. Obedience became trust in my track record as a parent. Trust in my husband’s track record as a parent.The kids would more willingly obey because of our past history of familial trust.Reading about the saints, I see that sometimes a saint has been asked to to do a thing, to forgo a thing, under obedience their spiritual director ( St Elizabeth of Hungary) …to their Superior (St Bernadette of Soubirous)…to their religious order.What enabled these saints, what enables religious, what enables married couples, to accept obedience is I think, in part, that trust. Trust that the Holy Spirit is at work, was at work, through their vows. A vow of obedience, of poverty, of chastity. A vow of marriage.Religious, I guess, I surmise, ( I mean, how would I know) , trust that through their dedication to their religious vows, God will work, even if (perhaps) a decision from those in authority seems unfair or illogical.Married couples trust in the sacrament of marriage, in its graces, in the seriousness of the marital vows, especially during a rocky or stormy period. They trust that though things might seem a little rough or might make no visible sense, their vows are a sign of God’s fidelity to them, a symbol of the rightness of their commitment. A reason to trust…to trust in the sacrament of marriage and its graces, to trust that God will see them through, in good times and in not so good times. They choose to remain obedient to their vows and trust that the Holy Spirit is at work through their obedience.Obedience and trust.

Whoever wishes to live happily and to attain perfection, must live conformably to reason, to rule, and to obedience, and not to his natural likes and dislikes; such an one must esteem all rules, must honour them all, must cherish them all, at least in the superior part of the will; for if one rule be despised now, another will be so tomorrow, and on the third day it will be no better. When once the bonds of duty are broken, everything will be out of order, and exhibit a scene of confusion….Saint Francis de Sales

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