Monday, August 16, 2010

How Many Hours Does It Take To Homeschool?

How many hours does it take per day to homeschool?

I have Googled that very question and was not surprised to find a wide range of answers. Many links I found were homeschool parents being quite defensive, I don't blame them though. Naysayers can be a bit brutal.

I may also come off as a little defensive and at times sarcastic, please take it in good humor. I find NOTHING wrong with parents who want to send their children to school! I will be the first to tell you that homeschool really is NOT for everyone. It works for us. I have friends I would strongly discourage from homeschooling, it just wouldn't make sense. That being said...

I thought it would be interesting to compare the time that public school students are actually sitting down at a desk or table studying from a book reading, writing or mathematics. Typically, a child goes off to school for 6 hours 5 days a week. So how much of that 6 hours is actually spent sitting at a desk on focused school work? I searched and found a few examples of 1st grade class schedules. They all varied a bit, but had the same general progression. Here is an example:

8:05-8:15 ~ Basically getting everyone settled, coats and bags put away, supplies gathered

8:15-8:35 ~ Circle Time (I'm not really sure but this doesn't sound like sitting down school work so, moving on...)

8:35-10:45 ~ Language Arts
*8:35-8:50 ~ Phonemic Awareness/Phonics
*8:50-9:15 ~ Phonics/Spelling/Handwriting
*9:15-9:25 ~ Restroom Break
*9:25-10:45 ~ Reading Groups/Reading Centers

Here is some sit down desk work! Well, except for that restroom break. I also imagine the Reading Groups/Centers have more game based activities and reading books which is learning yes, but I don't count reading into our "school hours" each day. We tend to read books throughout the day. So collectively, accounting for distractions from other children, restroom break and the game type reading activities/books, this would leave about an hour of sit down focused Language Arts. (This school's schedule allots about twice as much time than other schedules I came across for Language Arts. Kudos!)

10:45-12:00 ~ Lunch, Recess, Restroom Break, Drink Break

11:15-11:30 ~ Story Time/Silent Reading: Also trying to get the children settled then chilling out after having been fed and then wound up for the last hour.

12:00-1:10 ~ Math and Math Centers: Boy, an hour and ten minutes seems like a good chunk of time for math! I know some children really have issues with math though. With the number of children in the class, even a conservative 15 students, there are several different learning styles that best suit each child. Also the math skills of the students across the board will vary greatly. From the child who understands the current assignment and is already finished and bored that has decided to entertain himself by tapping his pencil against the desk or talking to another student, to the child that really just doesn't understand and needs to have it explained slowly, one on one, and with visual aids to grasp it. Between distractions by other students, passing out worksheets, and explaining the assignment, answering general questions, I am guessing the actual sit down working out of math problems is about 30 minutes.

1:10-1:40 ~ Music/PE: Both of these are VERY important for children in my opinion! Learning, expanding and testing their physical self is a huge part of growing up and learning boundaries and building confidence. Still... it's not sitting down "doing school" so we can move on.

1:40-2:00 ~ Social Studies, Science, Silent Reading: WHAT?!? Only twenty minutes to learn about the society we live in and other cultures clumped together with the wonderful and amazing world of Science... Here I will pretend like there are no distractions whatsoever, that nobody has any questions and that every student absorbs every single lesson that is taught in this twenty minute span. So we have another 20 minutes of sit down study work.

2:00-2:15 ~ Gathering all of their things to take home

Alright so let's add that up: Out of a 6 hour school day there was 60 minutes of Language Arts, 30 minutes of Math and 20 minutes of Science, Social Studies for a grand total of...

About 2 hours.


One cut and dry average day of homeschool takes us about two hours. That is sit down at the table, learning, focused, concentrated "school" time.

That does not include:

~ the days that creative writing is involved
~ science experiment days
~ days that we end up getting completely immersed in a subject unexpectedly
~ chapter books we read and review and discuss throughout the day and night
~ fun quick books we read together
~ art projects and crafts
~ nature study subjects we come across just playing outside
~ Karate
~ Cub Scouts
~ different local learning programs for children
~ piano lessons
~ playing with friends
~ any of the plethora of questions any homeschool parent is bombarded by from the moment they wake up to (often times) past bedtime

That's the thing... school is ALWAYS in session. The dialogue between the homeschool parent and child does differ a bit from the child who goes off to learn at a school. There is an element there that welds teacher and parent together. It is very easy and natural for the child to ask questions about anything and everything. It is very normal for the parent to want to give that child the answer, find out, Google it (we do a lot of Googling).

Many parents wonder "Are they getting enough hours in?" I know I did. Especially when we think of children being at school for 6 hours a day. I read on a blog "If the public school can count standing in the line at the water fountain as “school hours”, then I can count the children sorting the recycling as school hours." On that same blog she mentioned how long it takes them to homeschool, on average:

Kindergarten & 1st grade: 30-45 mins
2nd-4th: 1½-2 hrs
5th-6th: 2-4 hrs
7th-up: 4+ hrs

Every school is different and every homeschool family is different. Things vary day to day.

I wrote this blog post for several reasons...

First and foremost was for selfish reasons. I wanted to prove to myself that I am doing the right thing. No matter what a parent does I think we all doubt ourselves at one time or another. Since I am doing something that so many parents don't do and don't understand, I have that feeling thrown onto me pretty often by family, friends and strangers. When I write things down they all seem to fall into place and make sense.

The next reason is for other homeschool parents who often wonder the same thing. Am I doing enough? How can we be done so early? Why isn't this a challenge, a struggle? Even on the days my child is cranky or distracted maybe from lack of sleep or having too much sugar or whatever, we get through it. Is my child getting enough socialization? How many kids get in trouble day after day for talking in class? Can you think of any negative "social" situations that you encountered while attending grade school? Is a few hours a week of free play with friends enough for my children? I plan on writing more about some of these things as they come up. I have been SO thankful for the blogs I have come across of other homeschool parents. I just want to add to that pool.

The final reason is...

...for all of those people. You know who you are. The ones that look with that look... the "Why isn't that boy in school?" look. The ones that we are about to encounter more and more since he most definitely looks school aged now. The people that wonder why, during school hours, are we out with another homeschool parent and children having ice cream and hanging out at the library. At the grocery store during the day, the park, the river, out to lunch with family and friends. Also for the family and friends who refrain from asking us to do things and go places because "we have to do school that day." Hey guess what? Not only are we probably already done with it, but we can totally hang out with you, finish up school after dinner if need be. We can have a pop math quiz during bath time. We can practice phonics with street signs and license plates. Total worst case scenario, we can do school.... are you ready?!?! ON THE WEEKEND! Yep. In fact, we can schedule it pretty much any time that works for us. Our routine is usually get up, eat breakfast, get dressed for the day and sit to do our school. Then we are free to do as we please for the rest of the day. That is just what works for us.

Whew! I feel better. How about you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

To School or Not to School...

Back in the beginning of the year I made the decision that kiddo will go to public school for 1st grade. He needs that social environment and I need some time to myself to decide what I need to do. I was happy, confident, excited about his new adventure and looking forward to mine. I can get a job, go to school, do things I never had the time for, go to lunch with my mom and mother in law alone, girl time, gym time, grocery shopping alone time, house cleaning time. I will get to hear stories about new friends and all of those little art projects they bring home, PTA meetings, class mom, parent teacher meetings, holiday parties, classmates birthday parties... I mean, hey, I went to public school... he will be fine!

We had a pretty relaxed approach to homeschooling for Kindergarten. Working in workbooks, life experiences, artwork and the like. Most of what he learned he didn't realize was even school. I saw how quickly he picked up on things and what a fantastic memory he has. Teaching him is simple, he is full of questions and I try to provide answers. What I am not sure about we Google.

After I had made my decision to send him to public school, I started to do more scheduled type school work with him. Try to get him prepared for school and having to sit still for longer periods of time. More work in workbooks and initiating "school time" by sitting down at the table. Encouraging him to finish a certain assignment instead of letting him come and go as he pleases. Then a funny thing happened...

I remembered every single reason I wanted to homeschool him. The more I thought about him going off to school everyday the more I wondered why in the world I made that decision?!?! Getting to see him figure things out, being there when it clicks, listening to him sound words out, seeing him very seriously focus on a picture of coins and figuring out how much they are worth. Laughing with him and helping him understand. Seeing what methods work and which ones don't. Taking extra time when we need to and skipping over things he clearly already knows.

I was in kind of a sad place in my life when I made the decision to send him to school, but I won't get into all of that. What I will get into is the fact that 90% of the reasons I was looking forward to him going to public school, were selfish. Not that I feel like I have to be completely and totally kid focused and forget who I am and give everything up for him. Not at all. In fact with a little better time management I can do all that I want to and more. Also encouraging my family members here to take him on mini outings WITHOUT me, I will have moments of alone time while knowing he is with a loved one. We have already joined Cub Scouts, I am going to find out about Karate and we will try to attend the Tuesdays at the park with the other homeschoolers, weather permitting. When I discussed it with him, the things that he was excited about going to school for were getting to meet new kids and the playground. When I asked him what he liked about doing school at home with me his voice and his face lit up and he was even laughing while he explained the reasons he liked it.


Once again the decision has been made that we will be homeschooling him. It feels good. It feels right. I am SO excited about it in fact! I found a curriculum that comes highly recommended. I think we will be getting Sonlight. With the core package and adding on the required materials and also splurging on the science package, we will be pretty well set up.

**If anyone has the 1st grade Sonlight set up that would like to sell it to me used, I would be more than happy to purchase it! Or, if any of you have bags of money laying around that would like to gift me the entire $900 set up for 1st grade, message me and I will give you my address. lol ;)