How Long Should I Spend Homeschooling Each Day?

A question I am often asked is how long I spend homeschooling my children each day.  For background purposes, my children are ages three and five.  Homeschooling (as I have probably stated in other blog posts) is simply home education.  And, as long as my children are awake, then they are learning! Life is an ever-changing process, and all humans must continue to learn every moment how to function in this process we call life.  So, in essence, my children homeschool all day and most of the night. Even while they are sleeping, they are often thinking (dreaming!) of new ideas and new experiences that we often discuss in the mornings over breakfast.

“But, really,” you might say, “how long do you actually sit down and teach?”  Well, here’s the deal.  We are creatures of habit.  And, because of that, most people learn best by seeing and reacting as well as putting ideas into practical use.  I mean, seriously, what do you do when you want to learn something new?  Perhaps you want to know about the culture in Spain.  How would you go about doing that?  Would you break out a textbook and have someone lecture you on the culture of Spain?  Would you then take a test on that lecture to prove to the speaker that you were listening?  Probably not.  Unless you have the time and money to visit Spain and experience the culture firsthand (that would actually be the best way to learn, and I guarantee you would never forget what you learned), then you would either contact someone who you know has been to Spain and simply ask them about their experience or you would research online or maybe even check out a library book or video all about Spain.

So since I believe that the best way to learn – really learn – is to experience something or research on your own, I am not a big fan of sitting and talking for hours on end about one subject and then filling out papers to “prove” that the information sticks.  What usually happens when we attempt to learn in such a way is that the information stays with us just long enough to pass the test. Then we forget at least half of what we “learned”.

My children are still so small that playing is a huge part of their learning experience.  So, we probably spend an hour or two each day sitting down and talking about “school” subjects and we do worksheets a couple times a week.  Why do I have them doing worksheets if I don’t believe it is the best way to reinforce information?  Obviously, they need to learn to read and write properly in order to function well in this world.  They also need the opportunity to discover any interest they may have in literary arts, coloring, painting, etc.

To recap, I try my best to make sure my children learn in a way that suits each of their diverse personalities; and, learning does not always involve long lectures and paperwork.  We are a moderately relaxed homeschool family who values education according to God’s intention for mankind.

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Homeschool Burnout

Burnout happens when you become tired and/or frustrated with doing the same thing over and over again.  Can it be prevented?  Yes and no.  There are things you can do to lessen your chances of experiencing burnout.

Humans are creatures of habit.  We often do the same things over and over because we have gotten ourselves in a routine.  Routines aren’t necessarily bad, but they can lead to boredom and then complete burnout.

 

Ditching routines can help lessen the chances of homeschool burnout.  Let every day be unique.

Use textbooks sparingly and do hands-on activities such as science experiments, puzzles, and board games instead.  If you or your children don’t do well with hands-on activities, plan a movie day.  Just make sure that the film is educational.  By the way, educational doesn’t have to mean dead and boring.  There are lots of fun videos especially for small children.  Check out PBS or Discovery Kids.  YouTube is also an excellent source.  Tired of movies and games?  Take a walk.  Seriously.  Get outside, and take the kids with you.  Look at the world around you, and talk about God’s beautiful creation with your children.  Explore nature and all its splendor.  If you don’t normally include read-aloud books in your homeschool, it’s not too late to start.  Even older kids will enjoy quality time with mom and/or dad while reading one or two chapters a day and discussing what the book is all about.  Children can journal as you read new books or paint a favorite scene from the book.

Children and adults alike get tired of the same old, same old; but when learning is a new adventure every day, homeschooling transforms from a dreaded necessity to an amazing adventure.

 

FAQ – My Homeschool Experience

I am often asked questions about my experience thus far in Homeschooling.   I am by no means an expert.  Still, I will share the Q & A.

1.  Are you not worried your kids will be introverts and unsociable?

No. I am not in the least worried that my children will turn out as introverts or be unsociable.  Sit down and talk to my kids. You will see they are neither introverted nor unsociable.  They love talking to people.  They are polite, respectful children who engage well with others.

 

2.  How often do you homeschool and for how long?

Home education is different than public education.  Students are always with their teacher.  In public school, there is a 7-8 hour window in which children are with their teacher.

 

3.  Are you a licensed or certified to teach?

The Lord God Almighty licensed me as my children’s mother and certified me to teach them when he commanded me by way of the Scripture to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬. So, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I have the knowledge I need to impart to my children.

 

4.  Do you ever get tired of staying home all the time?

I don’t stay home all the time.  In fact, I am only home all day about once a week.  And even then, we aren’t stuck inside all day.  We are usually shopping for books, playing at the park, discovering God’s green earth, at a library, visiting family, etc.

 

5.  Is it hard to teach your own children?

No.  It is actually a natural process that requires little skill but lots of love and patience.

 

6.  Are you worried your children will be behind?

My children are three and five.  My five year old has been reading for almost six months.  He works math problems on a first grade level, and he is very creative. He loves to put puzzles together.  Not the 5-piece baby puzzles.  The 48-100 piece puzzles.  48 piece puzzles usually take 15-20 minutes to assemble solo (I don’t help at all!) the first go-round.  After that, he can usually piece them together in less than 8 minutes.  I struggle with 24 piece puzzles, by the way!  My three year old daughter knows how to write her name and all the alphabet in upper case and lower case.  She recognizes numbers 0-18 and can write 0-9.  She has an interest in reading and is currently working on single consonant sounds.  She can also solve simple addition problems such as 3 + 2 = 5.  She participates in our Science and Social Studies lessons, both of which are taken from first grade textbooks.  Both my children have spoken in complete sentences by the time they were 18-21 months old.  They don’t seem behind to me at all.

 

7.  Which method of homeschooling do you prefer?

I prefer the method that best suits the child.  Children are individual and should be treated as such.  I currently use a relaxed method that includes many of the Charlotte Mason aspects.

 

8.  Will your children ever attend public school?

I cannot determine the future.  But I do know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now.

A Beka: Discovering God’s World Science Review

I’ve done a video already about the Science Reader that I am using this year for my preschool and kindergarten aged children, but I thought I would post a written review here as well.  A Beka Grade 1:  Discovering God’s World is the name of our Science curriculum.

 

I am using this textbook with both of my children at the same time rather than choosing separate textbooks for each child.  My children are close in age (19 month apart) and have above average comprehension levels.  I am not saying that to brag.  Although I am very proud of my children, I think it’s necessary to share this information in order to give an accurate review.

 

Since we have a very laidback approach to homeschooling and my children are only three and five years old, we don’t do the activities and review questions that are included in the text.  However, as we read, I ask my own questions about the passage.  We also do not read an entire unit per week.  We only read and discuss roughly two or three pages per lesson.  And, we only do lessons once or twice a week.

 

My kids and I really enjoy the lessons from the A Beka Science reader.  They love the colorful pictures and easy to understand wording, and I enjoy the Bible verses that go along with each unit as well as the layout of the book.  This textbook was written so it can be used in family style learning such as we do or as an individual study.  Also, it can be broken down into short lessons as we prefer or in longer lessons suitable for 6-8 year old children.

 

There are always vocabulary words, activities, poems, scriptures, and more that could be used if you choose.  Like I already mentioned, we do not go over vocabulary words or do the activities given in the text.  But I do test my children’s understanding of each lesson by pausing occasionally and asking related questions.  We also create our own activities.  For example, one of our lessons was about fingerprints and how each person has unique prints.  So, we checked out our fingerprints by using washable paint.  Any lesson from this textbook can be altered to fit your family.

 

I will link my video review in the comments below!  Also, I would love to know what your family uses for Science!

What Does an Eclectic Homeschool Look Like

There are many methods of homeschooling, and the eclectic style is generally a combination of at least two methods.  It doesn’t have to be any certain methods combined.  The word “eclectic” literally means:  deriving ideas, styles, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources.  So, eclectic homeschoolers may  take an idea or two from the Charlotte Mason method and then add an idea from the traditional method and add yet another idea from the Montessori method.  There are endless ideas and opportunities with an eclectic style.

 

Who can benefit from an eclectic style?  Just about anyone.  Not every family will fit into a single mold.  God made us each very different.  Because of this, not everyone looks at homeschooling in the same way.  And just as each family is different, so is each child.  So, a family of six children may use different methods.  To lessen the stress, the mother may find it easier to use a little of this and a little of that for each child rather than having Suzie follow the Charlotte Mason method and Johnny use the Montessori method while Annie learns in a traditional setting.  It would make much more sense to simply incorporate bits and pieces of each method into the homeschool as a whole, thus teaching eclectically.

 

Since an eclectic style is simply a combination of methods that works for your family, each eclectic homeschool may look very different.  There’s really no one way to be eclectic.  That defies the very meaning of the word!  Be eclectic, different, unique, whatever you want to call it… but be yourself!

Mistakes I Have Made as a Homeschool Mommy

Although I have only recently begun my journey as a homeschool parent, I have already made several mistakes.

 

Mistake # 1:  Buying way too many workbooks/textbooks 

When we first started homeschooling, I probably bought about twelve textbooks and workbooks combined.  For my kindergarten son!  After a few weeks, I realized that even though my son learns quite rapidly and is very advanced for his age, he doesn’t need all these workbooks.  And, he doesn’t like them either!

 

Mistake #2:  Trying to mimic a public school in my home 

Just about every new homeschool parent goes into “teacher” mode when she first starts educating her kindergartener.  But why are we homeschooling if we want to play school?  Kids need us to be parents – not teachers.

 

Mistake # 3:  Not taking my child’s natural learning preferences into account 

My son is a visual and hands-on learner.  Yet I was giving him worksheets all the time.  Worksheets are fine occasionally for him, but I was insistent in the beginning that he do worksheets every single day.  Thinking back, I now know that is why we both burned out on homeschool so quickly.

 

Mistake #4:  Planning separate studies for my children for every subject 

I used to do separate work with my three and five year old children.  Now we cover Science, Social Studies, Bible, Art, and some math as a family.

 

Mistake # 5:  Taking school so seriously

My children are three and five.  They learn best by playing at that age.  If Mommy is too uptight to play and wants them to work all day, it’s likely that the children won’t learn much at all.

 

Life is a learning process.  I am sure these won’t be my last mistakes.  But I will try my best not to repeat these things in the future.  We all want what is best for our children.  But we have to remember that they’re still children, so we need to let them be….

Ins and Outs of Homeschooling

You have made the decision that homeschooling is right for your family. You are at peace with your decision, and yet you are starting to feel anxious and perhaps a little overwhelmed.

 

Firstly, you must investigate the homeschool laws in your state.  Each state in the USA has its own specifics when it comes to Home education.  You need to know what is required of you where you live.  A good place to start is http://www.hslda.org.

 

The next step is to withdraw your child from school if he or she is currently enrolled.  The withdrawal process is usually quite simple.  You will need to fill out a withdrawal form indicating your reason for withdrawal.

 

Then, you will need to meet with the attendance officer and file an intent to homeschool.  In some states, forms may be filled out online and you may not need to actually meet at the office.  But, you need to check the regulations where you live.

 

I highly suggest that you have copies made of each paper that is filed with your school district.  This will benefit you if there are ever any issues.

 

Now, you are legally set to homeschool.  Just make sure you follow up with any additional requirements in your state such as providing samples of your child’s work throughout the year, achievement exams, and so on.  Remember that each state is different, and homeschool laws are subject to change.  So, I recommend that you keep current with your state laws.

 

Finally, I want to encourage you to keep homeschool records regardless of whether your state requires.  Why?  This is to secure proof in case any problems should ever arise.

 

Although in my opinion parents should have freedom when it comes to educating their children, there are certain requirements that go along with home  education.  And, in order to exercise your right to homeschool, you must abide by the laws of the land.  Hopefully these tips give you more insight!

Deschooling Vs. Unschooling- What’s the Difference? — There’s No Place Like Home

Of all the buzzwords that make their rounds in the homeschooling community, the two that are confused the most often are “deschooling” and “unschooling,” and with good reason! Since they are both intended to be as unlike traditional school as possible, it really can be difficult for someone on the outside looking in to determine […]

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