‘Tis the season to…think seriously about homeschooling your children on next year, or so I am told. Though I could not find an exact number, experts in the field state that many households make a decision to homeschool at about this time of year. As we make that decision, somewhat unintentionally, we can bring traditional school systems into our homes; after all, for most of us, it is what we know. And though this is not necessarily a bad thing, dependent upon your vision for your homeschool, one of the mistakes of incorporating the school into your home is to assume that your school needs the same number of hours as a public school.
Of the many questions people ask when the “h” word is mentioned, one of them, for the genuinely curious, is, “How long does it take?” I sense that the person either sees long, frustrating days, or they see us playing and doing nothing that might be considered remotely educational. So, my answer is generally that the kids set the pace. This is true to a large extent, but there are also some boundaries based upon the other activities of our lives, some gentle nudging from Mom when distractions become problematic, and an intuitive understanding of each of our children, inclusive of when they are focused, dawdling, or needing help.
It has been a minute since I have penned a “this is what we do” type of blog post. Here is a glimpse into our school day based upon having three children in the house (including one post that takes a thought-provoking jab at the hours a child spends in public school and how much of it is focused learning):
- August, 2010: Class Pictures (from the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop)
- February, 2009: What We Do
- March, 2007: How Long Does It Take
His Way Homeschool has undergone some significant changes since 2010! Perhaps the most significant is that, after losing our first graduate, we now have two students enrolled. Previously, the older kids used the dining room–at the very front of the house–as their high school. You know what that meant the minute any unexpected guests arrived. I would be filthy rich if I had $1 for each time I have said, “Oh, excuse the books (and science projects and general clutter…). We are homeschoolers…” For the first time in years, everyone is at the kitchen table.
We have never had a designated school room, and much less desks, a permanent chalkboard, etc. Though I was covetous of my friends’ homeschool rooms for years, I am now glad that we never made this investment; it makes the day more relaxed for us. This table was probably one of the most homeschool-friendly purchases we made when we decided to educate our kids from the house for one simple reason: storage.
Having seen our environment, I will talk now about how we use it.
I wake the kids up between 8:30 and 9 a.m., and it generally takes them about 30 minutes to get downstairs. Our son has always been the get-down-to-business type, so he’s reading his math lesson while eating breakfast. The youngest generally needs a reminder that she has a full school day ahead, so stop with the nibbling and eat.
Our son works independently, so even though I sit at the table with both children, he uses his planner and generally only converses with me to clarify his assignments (besides the occasional distraction). The only time we purposefully spend one-on-one together(I believe in doing that with each child, no matter the age) is over books. He is in the middle of the Middle Ages (pun intended), so we are pouring over King Arthur and the knights of the round table, as well as several of the Canterbury Tales. Our youngest is still learning independence, so I place her planner on the table, but I also sit next to her in case there are places where she does not understand something. She just finished studying World War II, so we now are learning about Thurgood Marshall, America’s first African-American Supreme Court Judge, and we are laughing our way through The Watsons Go to Birmingham. By the way, you can see both our schedule and our curriculum choices on the pages listed above, or click on the links.
While the kids are working, I peek over and ask questions, but I also use their time of independence to catch up on simple household chores, e-mail, complete small business items, or (yes, I confess it) check in on Facebook. I know there are some parents who will say that children need to feel that they are the most important people in your life, and that blogging, Pinning, surfing, or even working on a digital device sends the wrong message. I personally am liberated from the guilt of not giving anyone 100% of my time; I wear too many hats around the house to sit idly when I can multi-task well, and for Mom to accomplish more than a good school day in 24 hours, well…it is what it is. That was somewhat of a rant, but I would hate for anyone to read my post and feel as if he or she has to sit next to a child constantly and do nothing else, or wear the label “Bad Daddy/ Momma.”
With that out of my system (smile), we work for about 3 hours before we stop for lunch. Our son will again work and eat, so that he is finished quickly, but the youngest takes a 30-minute break–a habit from her younger days which she continues to hold onto, tooth and nail.
Once lunch is finished, the three of us have Bible study. Mid-afternoon Bible study is also a habit established several years back. Our oldest loved the bathroom, often taking close to an hour to come downstairs (still in pjs, mind you). Everyone would wind up waiting for her to finish whatever happened in there, and it slowed down the whole household. Being angry and yelling was of little use to me or her, and it just started the morning with the wrong spirit at the table. So I moved Bible study time to mid-day, allowing her to wake up mentally closer to the crack of noon, while the rest of us went about our relatively early bird ways.
After Bible study, I read a book aloud to the kids, and they narrate back what has happened. We are currently enjoying–and I do mean enjoying–T.A. Barron’s ‘The Lost Years of Merlin” series. It is just the type of fantastical descendant of Tolkien and Lewis that the kids enjoy.
Oh, if only every day were like this! Yet, on two days of the week, our son attends college in the morning. For the youngest and I, we spend one of those days at the library. Still, minus the ability to complete light chores, the day is pretty much the same.
If there is remaining work to complete, the kids wrap it up, and are then left to themselves while Mom gets dinner and/or laundry going, watches sports news, works, or does whatever the day dictates. Our son might work from his room on his college assignments, and our youngest has a time to read (forced, since she would much rather be plugged in).
How long does it take? We start at about 9:30-10 a.m., and not including lunch or individual time, we wrap up between 2-3 p.m. Not bad, if I say so myself.