Save time and simplify homeschooling and unschooling!
Learn from experienced home educators how to write your own curriculum.
It really is that easy!

Homeschooling|Unschooling|Diaries / Reports|Curriculum|Games|Help |About|Contact | Facebook

We are moving interstate during September, and due to needing to quarantine,
any orders placed after the 7th won't be sent until the end of the month.
We apologise for any inconvenience.

How to Use the Learning Naturally Diary - an explanation

by Beverley Paine

Korina asks: "I bought your Learning Naturally Homeschooling Diary and am a little confused on how best to use it. I understand (I think) the child initiated activities but on the structured educational activities I'm stuck, as if they are structured activities how is that natural learning? So I'm confused what to put there. Also my children have been playing Minecraft all morning so I would of thought that would go on the child initiated page but there is not allocated space for technology on that page, only on the structured activities page."

There is a sample page filled out from my own records here: Scroll down the page past the Weekly Homeschool Diary sample to find it.

Structured activities' are those that we, the parents, initiate for our children.

There is a lot of confusion about the notion of structure in unschooling - it's considered somewhat of a 'dirty' word! Which is sad because structure is definitely a natural part of daily life.

We naturally structure our lives and those of our children and it's okay to do so. We'd be lost without this structure. All of us make choices about where we live, the type of house we live in, how we set up the house, the area in which the house resides, what facilities are nearby, our immediate environment and that which is easily accessible. These choices determine the type and nature of the activities available to our children.

Within the house our choices - furniture, belongings, spaces, outlook. etc - have a considerable bearing on what we do and how we do it every day.

And then we layer onto this underlying physical structure that shapes our actions how we use our time. This also guides and directs our children's actions and choices. We may think we are letting our children do whatever they want all day but it is restricted by our choices and how we have set up the environment in which we all live and learn and the options we've created or made available.

With an unschooling approach to education everything we do and think and say is evidence of learning happening. That's what I mean by natural learning. We're learning even if we're not conscious of what we're learning. Tuning in - observing and reflecting, making space and time in our busy lives to *notice* and then recognise the learning happening in our own and our children's lives - helps us make the shift from thinking about education from something that happens to us for distinct purposes to something that happens anyway, all the time, and is amazingly comprehensive with a complex underlying structure that makes sense.

As parents we structure our children's lives both naturally and deliberately. And that's okay because that's our role as parents and they depend on us to keep them safe and healthy: they appreciate the parameters we set, especially if we value and respect them as people. Children naturally trust that we'll do an excellent job of providing safe and loving structures that meet their developmental and educational needs. From that platform they will feel confident to grow and embrace challenges. Often without realising it as parents we place plenty of those challenges in our children's paths: getting shoes with shoelaces is one I remember vividly as a child! Life and growth is full of learning opportunities and challenges and little of it looks like 'education'!

In the Learning Naturally Diary, 'child initiated activities' are those that the child does without our direct intervention. However, I acknowledge that the child's choices are necessarily restricted by the environment I have provided for my child and the way in which our family uses time. Family life is shaped and structured by the choices we (the parents) have made. Our children may start playing a game before breakfast and then be reminded by us to eat (without food in timely manner the game may be disrupted by irritable behaviour - if this conversation is had then we've covered a 'topic' under 'health' under 'structured educational activities'; if a discussion about the merits of what is eaten that too comes under 'health'). When we intervene in a direct way in our children's lives and direct them to do something we are structuring their time and activity to suit our needs (and often indirectly theirs).

We might ask them to play Scrabble with us - that wouldn't go on the left hand page but under 'structured educational activities'. It would go under 'English'. If the game was Monopoly, we might place it under Maths, or Society (depending on the nature of the banter as we play). If we ask them to help us pull weeds in the garden, that would go under Science, or Environment. If take the children to the beach to swim, that would go under Physical Education, but if we beachcomb instead that would go under Environmental, or if we are marvelling at the erosion caused by last night's storm it would go under Science. However, if we lived by the beach and the children decided to do these things on their own, then I'd list them under 'child initiated activities', probably under 'physical, outdoor, sport' or 'hobbies'...

As a self-initiated game, Minecraft could go under 'role playing', or 'construction games' or 'hobbies'. It all depends on what the child is most getting out of the game in terms of learning and enjoyment. For me, a DIY builder, I'd list it under 'construction games' (like LEGO); or if Minecraft consumed my every waking hour I'd list under 'hobbies'; or if I was focused more on connecting with them while I played and talked about the people in the game, then I'd list it under 'role playing'.

I hope that helps. Please keep asking questions! Especially if there is anything you are confused about. If you are on Facebook and haven't already done so, you are most welcome to join either of my online support groups:




April Jermey took over the reins of Always Learning Books from hr mother, Beverley Paine, in 2011. A stay-at-home part-time working mum of two young children, April experienced a mix of education, including homeschooling, unschooling, part-time attendance at school, completing her high school certificate at school. She supports the right of families to choose the education that best meets the needs of their children.

Beverley Paine home educated her three children, now all adults, between 1985 and 2004. An active volunteer supporting and promoting education choice for families for over two decades her legacy continues in her books and articles.


"The information you supply is real and generous. Most books do not really explain 'how' as well as you do." Tracy

"I cannot seem to get enough of your writings on the whole home ed subject! You portray a lot of wisdom, knowledge and experience..." Marie

"A fabulous source of information and inspiration. I am very pleased to have some of your titles on my bookshelf... providing me with wonderful, detailed information and resources." Faye

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away with increased confidence in my ability to provide and share a wonderful learning journey with my family. Thank you!"Maaike

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of wisdom changed our lives." Lesley

"I have been so grateful for the texts I have read from you so far. They have been so helpful as we entered our first year of official home schooling." Sue

"Fantastic reading. I am so inspired...
Your honesty is rare." Tracy


About Home Education

Home education is a legal alternative to school education in Australia. State and territory governments are responsible for regulating home education and have different registration requirements, however homeschooling families are able, and encouraged, to develop curriculum and learning programs to suit the educational and developmental needs of their individual children. For more information visit:

Have a question about home education?

Read Beverley's latest blog post!



About us: When you order, you deal with a real living person who is familiar with the products we sell. This is a small mum and daughter family business, the books we write and sell are based on personal lived experience. We understand our subject, having built empathy and understanding of the needs of home educating families over 30 years of volunteering and advocacy in the homeschooling and unschooling community. Our aim is to encourage you on your home educating journey and to help you find ways to meet your family's educational needs. We wish to empower you as an educating parent and the nature of our books is to build your confidence to help you teach your children: we are not suppliers of fill-in-the-blank curriculum materials for children to complete. Our books give you information of the why and how of home education, what has and will work for you as an educating parent.

Prices are in Australian dollars and subject to change without notice.

Postage (within Australia) is included in the prices of individual items. Please expect between 1-2 weeks for delivery. If your order has not arrived within two weeks please let us know, but please be patient and give Australia Post a chance to deliver, especially if you have ordered in December or near a public holiday when delays are much more likely. Your order will normally be shipped within 2 business days of us receiving it, however we are a small business, run from home, around the busy life that is parenting and home educating three children. We run on a very small profit margin, so will always ship your order in the most economical way, by either Post or Courier. Large orders maybe shipped and marked as separate parcels. Unfortunately, Australia Post is fickle and we regularly see unexpected delays in delivery times, especially during peak post times and public holidays. Also unfortunately, Australia Post no longer offers any kind of compensation for lost orders, so any losses are worn by our already small profit margins. Thank you!

Privacy: At Always Learning Books we do not share, in any way, with any one or third party, your personal information.

Refund Policy: Refunds are available on items returned to us in 'as new condition'. Your return postage costs will not be refunded.

Orders outside of Australia: Please email us before ordering to obtain a quote for shipping rates.

Payment Methods

  • Credit card payments available only through PayPal. Please use the shopping basket provided and complete the transaction as directed. Payments made through PayPal are 100% secure. You do not have to become a PayPal member to make payments to Always Learning Books.
  • Direct Debit Transfer is available upon request.
  • If paying by personal cheque or money order, download and print the Order Form; complete, printing clearly. Do not send cash in the mail.
  • Keep a copy of your order for reference purposes.

More help: If you have any questions about the ordering process only please email us. Questions about home educating your children should be directed to one of Beverley's support groups:

Ask us a question on Facebook:
Always Learning Books