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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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….

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.

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.