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.