Thursday, October 24, 2013


A common issue for new homeschooling parents (especially those with students who have been taken out of public school) is burning themselves out the first few weeks because they are trying to re-create the whole classroom experience at home. Just because a child may spend 6+ hours in public school classroom, does not mean that they aren't "keeping up" if they don't spend that much time  doing formal "school" at home... Does your child need to sit at the table with his face in a book for 6 hours every weekday? NO! You will need to spend much less time than you think with actual teaching/study time.

A major difference between public school and homeschool is that your child doesn't have to wait for the teacher to address the concerns/issues of all of the other children in the class. If she has mastered her multiplication tables, she can move on to something else (or call it a day!). A lot of public school is busy-work and/or waiting for other kids to catch up (or waiting to get help when you're stuck). And then there are recess breaks, lunch, assemblies, etc. So how do you know how much time to spend on "school"?

When we lived in Portland about 5 years ago, I knew a woman who had gone back to school to be a teacher. At the time she was working as an elementary-level student-teacher as part of her schooling. She told me that she had been instructed by the school district that if they could get 1 hour of actual teaching accomplished in the classroom PER DAY, they could consider that a successful day. I am not joking, she was told this by the school district.

In another example, a friend's son was in public school (also in Portland) and had to be taken out for an extended period because of a planned surgery. She was told by the adminstrators that her son could do his schoolwork at home under her supervision, which would mean that he could return to school later in the year without being behind his classmates. When she asked how many hours per day she should work with him on his studies, she was told that their policy is that 1 hour of parent-teaching time is equal to 4 hours of classroom-teaching time. So basically, she could accomplish in one hour what it would take 4 hours in the classroom.

These aren't folktales, these are actual examples that have happened (recently) to people I know in our area of the country.

I don't share these examples to demean the public school system. Its just a reality - one on one is much more effective and faster. And who knows your child's learning style better than you?

How much time you spend on school each day will depend on your child's learning style, your teaching/organization style, your family schedule, etc. The student's age will be a factor also - play is a major part of education for a preschooler, elementary school kids need a lot of hands-on, and high school kids will largely be able to work on their own for most subjects/projects.

You may choose to start 'school' at 6am and end at 10am, then spend the rest of the day working in your garden together (which also counts as 'school', by the way!). Or you may want to break your school day up into smaller chunks (english from 8-9, math from 10-11, etc). You may choose to take a whole day off just to have fun. You can do that, you're homeschooling!

Reassess your child's progress from time to time to see if you need to spend more time in certain areas to stay on track for the year (or maybe you'll discover that you're way ahead, and you can spend less time in formal school activities for the rest of the year).

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