Normally I post a baking recipe on Wednesdays, but today I wanted to address a question that came up in the comments on yesterday’s post.
Erika was the first one to ask, but lots of other people wondered the same thing. Here’s Erika’s question.
Just out of curiosity (I’m not familiar with how homeschooling works), but is it common for homeschooled children to only do schoolwork for 2 hours a day? I see on your schedule that school started at 9 and stopped at 11. I think my elementry school day (back in the day!) went from 9-3. Just curious, please don’t take this as any sort of criticism – clearly you are doing a great job raising your family!
Before I talk about homeschooling and efficiency, I want to say a few things.
-I really appreciate the spirit of this question.
Thanks for not assuming that I’m raising a crop of illiterate, uneducated people. All of you were very gracious in your questions about this topic yesterday (save one, whose comment I chose not to publish), and I am grateful for that.
I should also tell you that when we first started homeschooling our children, my husband (who went to public school) was a little bit nervous about how quickly we got our work done, so you are not alone in wondering about this! Of course, he’s come around now that he understands more about how homeschooling works and now that he’s seen how well it’s working for our kids.
–I didn’t include every detail of our school day in yesterday’s post.
Just like I didn’t talk about everything that my husband did yesterday, I also didn’t talk about all the school work that got done…I just mentioned the work that I was involved with. Joshua and Lisey do the vast majority of their schoolwork independently. So, Joshua started his schoolwork before 9:00 that day…I just didn’t get around to starting with Sonia until 9:00.
–The number of hours we spend doing school each day varies.
Some days we do more, some days we do less. Some days we are really efficient and focused and we get our work done fast. Other days, either the kids are I are more distracted, and we take longer to finish.
-As several other commenters pointed out, learning doesn’t only take place while we are doing formal schooling.
For example, Joshua and Lisey set their alarm last night to go off at 3:00 am because they wanted to watch the meteor shower. As another example, when we watch condensation form on our cups of water in warm weather, we talk about why that happens.
And often, when my kids ask me something I don’t know, we look up the answer. We listen to a variety of music at breakfast and lunch, and we talk about the music and the composer, often looking on the globe to find out where the composer lived and worked.
Also, we read books (fiction and non-fiction) from the library in our free time, and I think that reading good books is one of the best and most enjoyable ways to learn.
These are just a few examples of the way that learning spills over into our “non-school” hours.
Ok! Now, to answer your question, yes, it is very common for homeschoolers to spend significantly less time doing formal schoolwork than their counterparts at traditional school. The reason for this is that homeschooling is very time-efficient.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, doing anything with one child is simpler than doing it with 15-20 (or even doing it with 10!). It takes time to get a group of children to even sit down altogether, let alone to get them busy doing work. This is not to besmirch the skills of school teachers, as I know I wouldn’t be half as efficient if I had to walk 10 children through a year of school.
Secondly, a child working by himself can move at exactly his own pace. This means that if Joshua comes across a concept in a subject that he grasps easily, he can finish his assignment quickly and move on to the next subject. In a traditional school setting, a child that finishes an assignment early still has to wait for the period to be over or for the rest of the class to be done.
Incidentally, I think that being able to finish early by working efficiently is a wonderful benefit to a child. I know that when I was being homeschooler, it was very motivating to know that if I buckled down and got my work done, I would have more free time to play.
Thirdly, homeschoolers can get all their academics done back-to-back. As I mentioned above, my children can go straight from subject to subject, which saves them a lot of time. They also are able to avoid some of the not-so-educational things that eat up time in a traditional school. In most schools, children don’t actually spend every minute from 9:00-3:00 doing schoolwork, so it’s not quite fair to compare a 6-hour day at school to our days at home.
At school, there are lunch breaks and recesses and gym class and bus time and time spent moving between classes. My children don’t have to travel at all, of course (unless you count walking from the breakfast table to a desk!), and they can do most of their work in one place. We do have lunch (if you count that, my children were “doing school” for more than two hours in yesterday’s post) and of course my children run around outside to play, but these things are usually done after we are all done with our formal schooling.
I hope that answers the questions you all had about this topic, but if you’re still left wondering something, do feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll try to clear up any confusion.