Monday, August 25, 2014

Candid Answers: How Long Does it Take to Homeschool?

One question most people ask when they find out we homeschool is, "How long does that take?"

There are two answers for that:

1. Not long.

2. All the time.

Yes, I know. Those contradict. But they're both true and here are some reasons why:

1. Not long:
  • In my philosophy of education, lessons should be short. I do not consider myself a "Charlotte Mason" homeschooler, but that was also one of her theories and I'm happy she agrees with me. (I kid, I kid.)
  • We have almost zero lecture time. We have reading aloud, some worksheets, and lots of other things in a day, but very few lectures.
  • I believe in teaching until a child masters a subject, but I don't believe in overdoing daily lessons. No subject can be truly learned or deeply loved in one day.
  • We're not afraid of "drill". Repetition of math facts, key dates, beloved poems...these are all good things. We go over them and then move on. Drill does not have to mean "kill". Keep it short and sweet and the kids may not even realize that's what happened.
  • Know your child(ren) well enough to challenge them, but not exasperate. Do not overwhelm a young reader with ten books that need to be read by the end of the week. Do not assign so many pages of Math your child despairs of finishing.
  • Cut worksheets, skip ahead, repeat an old lesson - homeschooling works for the homeschool family, not the other way around. I saw a homeschool mom post recently that she loves Saxon Math because they do the first side together and then the child does the other side later, so she knows what the child understands. I'm glad that works for them, but we have never - not ever - in 8 years of "formal" homeschooling done that. (Please don't report me to the Saxon publishers.) Curriculum is made for the homeschooler, not the homeschooler for the curriculum. YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU (and your homeschool).
  • No need for a strict schedule (unless you like one and find it useful). No need to call daily necessities of life "interruptions". It's just life.
  • There's no time wasted in lining up, walking in a single-file row to the next class, getting things out of your locker before the next class (OK, yes, I admit, we love our lockers. But the time it takes to get going on the next subject is nil.)
  • The kids don't ask permission to go to the bathroom. No announcements from the office interrupt us, and there are very few fire drills or assemblies. (I won't say there aren't any. After all, my kids need to know how to escape our house in case of fire, too.)
  • Travel time: infinitesimal. Walk to another part of the house. Go outside from inside, or inside from outside. No busses. No car-pool. No pick-up, no drop-off, no finding rain gear or snow gear just to get to school.
  • No hours of homework, once home from school. (My frank opinion: if you're spending two or more hours on homework a night per child, you are homeschooling.)
2. All the time:
  • Learning happens everywhere, all day long, no matter what's on the schedule.
  • Reading aloud is never finished. There's always something else to read. Board books to babies, picture books to preschoolers, stories to a school age child, deeper reading with an older child. A young reader can feel proud of her effort to read to her younger sister. The younger sister might narrate a board book (she'll call it "reading") to her baby brother.
  • There's always a craft project, science experiment, art masterpiece, Lego world, or board game starting, in progress, or being finished. The house is almost never completely clean, with everything stowed away. 
  • Depending on the day's events, we might be finishing a worksheet at 7 PM. That doesn't mean we were doing worksheets from 7 AM to 7 PM, that's just when that when happened to be finished. We might save a favorite read-aloud until bedtime. We might do an involved Science experiment during the baby's naptime. A field trip might (and, in fact, often does) occur on a Saturday.
  • One industrious child might start on a few assignments before anyone else is up. I'm not saying it happens every day, but it does happen. 
  • A child finished early, might be assigned to help another child with something. This is not a punishment for finishing, this is just one family member helping another. Older children can listen to narrations from the younger, they can help review math facts (sneaky - the older child is reviewing at the same time), they could put on an educational DVD (yes - it could happen).
  • You might listen to a necessary book on CD while driving around town. Or you might conjugate some Latin or see who can remember the most poems or Bible verses. (Yes, we've done this.)
  • All family vacations have some component that counts as "educational" or a field trip. Even a trip to see family.
Learning is integrated with life - the two are inseparable and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Check back later this week for a post about "Our Typical Homeschool Day" (spoiler alert: there's really no such thing as a typical day.)
(P.S: If you're looking to get your schedule under control, or your house in shape, or your life just generally back on track don't miss this:
Get organized. Stay organized.
This course is 30% off until September 2nd using the code backtoschool)

If you have a question you'd like me to attempt to answer, you can email me at candiddiversions @ yahoo . com - just remove spaces.
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Jessica N. said...

Great thoughts! Being a formal educator myself to now being home I saw the time difference, first hand, from formal school to homeschool. I love that you can educate your family in a fraction of the time then formal schooling!!

dawn said...

Love this! Perfect.

Amy Maze said...

I love this too! It's funny how you can't answer that question simply, you really can't! I agree with much of what you said. Actual sitting down school time is really not that long, but learning happens all day, for sure!

Carol said...

'if you're spending two or more hours on homework a night per child, you are homeschooling.' Or you might as well be. I'm stunned at the amount of time parents spend doing their kids homework either for them or with them. Usually a ridiculous project that has to be handed in.

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