Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How long does it take?

How long does it take to homeschool every day? That all depends on your child and you. Some kids just naturally grasp things quicker than others. If you have in mind the seven-hour "school" day that your child is getting in the public school setting, let's discuss that a little bit. On average? I would say if you asked 10 different homeschooling families, you would get 10 different answers. The answer to that question is unique to not only each family but to each child. Guesstimation? I don't know, but it will not make you end up looking like this. Let me see if I can shed some light on the subject.

First of all, the State of Alabama does not give a legal definition of how many hours makes a "school day", but to put it in perspective for you, let's get a visual of an average middle/high school level "school day" in a public school setting.

•Hold up seven fingers in front of your face. You can use two hands if you need to. The seven fingers stand for the seven hours in a "school day":
•Take one finger down for the hour it takes for the car/bus line in the morning/afternoon along with homeroom time. When my son was in public school, he was brought out to the car line promptly at 2:30 p.m. every day. Why? I don't know. Moving on...
•Take one finger down for the embarrassing, sweaty hour of P.E. Let's don't even talk about the immense joy of dressing out.
•Now take one finger down for lunch (if you can possibly call it that)/study hall.
•Let's see, we are down to four hours a day. Hmmm...four hours. That's not bad. I think four hours a day is a reasonable amount of time to expect to homeschool every day. Don't you?
•But wait! Don't forget to take one hour away for the 10 minutes in between each class period to go to lockers, be bullied and pushed around, buy/sell and/or talk about those who are buying/selling drugs, and get to the next class.
•Take one hour away for the time it takes in each class to take roll for that class, take up homework, hand out papers, answer the same question three or four times, break up fights, potty breaks, etc.
•That leaves you with two hours. Two hours out of seven.?????
•Okay, so we are down to two hours, but wait! Don't forget about the hour of (mandatory) electives that your child has everyday which is usually art, chorus, band, etc. we are down to just one hour a day.
•Let me suggest to you that it only takes half the time to teach one child something as it does to teach a classroom full. That leaves you with about one-half hour of actual learning that your child is getting in a school setting. That is on the days that they do not watch a Disney movie, go to a pep rally, have a fire drill, sit in the principal's office, etc. Don't even get me started on that whole "No Child Left Behind" crap. Did you not ever wonder why your kids had so much homework to do when they got home from school? Now you know why when you ask your child what they did that day at school they almost always inevitably say, "Nothing."

Let me make clear that I am not discounting the fact that your child needs to eat lunch, have physical education time, study music or art, etc., but I am sure that is not what you were referring to when you asked the question, "How long does it take to homeschool a child each day?" Let me also make it clear that I am not putting blame on the school system or on the teachers. That's just the way it is, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Now that we have a little perspective, let's get back to your original question of, "How long does it take to homeschool every day?" There are many different variables that can change this answer such as:

•How many children do you have? Obviously it is going to take more time with five kids than it is with one. How much more time? Again, more variables such as...
•How old is your child(ren)? Younger children who are not reading and writing yet take more one-on-one time teaching them everyday skills. Older children can largely self direct themselves with your main job being to provide them with the resources that they need. If you have children near the same age, you can combine learning going a little more in depth with the older children. You can also combine reading time, videos, field trips etc.
•Are there a lot of outside disturbances? Pretty self explanatory.
•Is your child very focused or have the attention span of a gnat (which is actually a misnomer by the way)? If you have a child with a short attention span, try breaking up their day into small bite-sized blocks of learning. Try doing some book work followed by taking a walk and doing nature studies, etc.
•Also, you should take into consideration what "lessons" are you doing? For instance, my son has a love of politics. I know that he is going to watch every political show, read every book, discuss politics as often and as in depth as tolerated (don't get him started, please!), and research it until his eyeballs fall out. He knows FAR more than I would ever CARE to know. Of course, I provide him with resources to delve into, but I don't actively count this as his "school" time because I know he is going to get it anyway. Does that make sense?
All of these are things to take into consideration. As you begin homeschooling, a lot of this will become clear to you. Your days will become a natural ebb and flow of learning if you will let it. You will find learning in places you never even thought of. Each day will be different and full of all kinds of learning opportunities. Be adventuresome and creative. Homeschooling should be more about learning and life and nurturing the LOVE of learning rather than fulfilling a daily time quota. (I'm just sayin'!)

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