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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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!

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!

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.

 

Enjoying My Freedom as a Homeschool Mommy

In the public school systems all across America, there are certain skills that must be taught in certain time frames.  If any of the students do not or cannot meet these benchmarks, then that student is considered behind his or her class.  Homeschooling is very different.  Homeschool lessons can be (and should be!) tailored to the individual child.

 

It would be great if every child in America was a self taught reader by the magical age of 5.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.  And, that’s okay.  Each child is special and unique.  Some children are artists.  Some cannot even draw stick figures.  Some children love music and sing like opera stars.  Others struggle to piece together “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  Again, that’s okay.

 

We all learn in different ways.  We each have different interests.  If everyone in the world functioned exactly the same way, then our world would be a very boring place.

 

So, I encourage you to be yourself. Let your children be themselves too.  Nurture their interests.  Allow them to thrive on their natural desires.  I am in no means saying to let them run wild.  I am simply saying to set up a learning atmosphere that is appealing to your child and give them the freedom of utilizing their creativity in order to get the most out of their education.

 

The best way to nurture a child’s natural peaks of interest is to help him discover what those interests are.  Next, find out how your child learns best.  Find out how you teach best.  Then find that balance in your homeschool.

 

Get to know your child and let him get to know you, too.  That’s the first step of the homeschooling process.  Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with guidelines to education.  Think outside the box.  Pray for guidance from the Lord.  He is the best teacher of all times, and He will never let you down.

Obeying the Call to Homeschool

I knew when I was pregnant with my oldest child, Joel, that God had called me to homeschool my children.  However, when Joel became school age, school was all anyone ever asked me about.  I shared my feelings about homeschooling with a few of my close family members and friends.

 

Some people loved the idea and thought it was so awesome that I was considering caring for my children in such a way.  Others thought I was insane.  Many of my friends told me that I couldn’t possibly provide a decent education for my kids.  One mom even told me that God allowed public schools to be formed so Mother’s would have a break.  That statement makes me laugh now, but I was not laughing at that time.  I was shocked that any mother would truly feel that way about a child that she loves and nurtures in her very own home.  While I realize that everyone has different views on homeschooling, I was alarmed by the ignorance some people had of the matter.

 

Joel had heard most of the people’s comments and he was becoming more intrigued every day by the idea of public school.  He was so excited at the thought of kindergarten and being able to play with other children each day.  I didn’t know how to answer him when he started asking me if he could go to kindergarten.  I was also beginning to question my ability to adequately teach my own children.  I was fear-struck.

 

Kindergarten registration was right around the corner.  And, I honestly was so confused.  He wanted to attend school.  So, I registered him for kindergarten.  As soon as I filled out the paperwork, I knew I had made a huge mistake.  But, I wasn’t sure how to undo it.  So, I prayed and asked God to forgive me for my disobedience.  He had clearly told me that it was MY responsibility to educate my children and that their education should take place in the home.  And I had willingly registered my son for a public education.

 

Roughly two weeks passed since my cry to the Lord to forgive me and help me fix my mess.  When I had prayed, I genuinely left the problem at the feet of the Lord.  I didn’t give the issue anymore thought.  Then, one night Joel came to me with a very concerned look on his face.  “Mommy, we need to talk,” he said, very seriously.  I dropped everything and listened to my little boy as he began to question me about school and the differences between public and home education.  I immediately understood what was happening.  God was answering my prayer.  You see, I had not only asked God to help me correct my mistake.  I specifically asked Him to change Joel’s mind about going to public school.  And that’s exactly what He did.  I answered Joel’s questions very carefully.  I knew that my faith was being tested.  And, I knew my God is faithful and true.  So I let him do most of the talking.  I tried to only give factual information and I didn’t once try to sway him my way.  I made it his decision.  He chose homeschool!

 

I was ecstatic, but I understood very well that he was four years old.  Logically, a four year old isn’t always sure what he wants.  They change their minds as often as every five minutes on some days.  So, I waited a few weeks.  Then, I asked him if he wanted to go to kindergarten.  He replied, “You are my teacher.”

 

I brought him back to the school and withdrew him from the student list.  Then we filled out the homeschool enrollment card.  And, finally we began choosing curriculum – together.

 

We started kindergarten in July of this year.  He does some activities alone and some studies are done as a family, to include his three year old sister.  We are all learning as we go.  Although we have tough days, I know we are fulfilling our call to homeschool.