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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our "typical" homeschool day part 1

Ok, I have been asked a lot lately what a typical day at our home looks like, mainly by those interested in homeschooling their own children. So I (finally) decided to open our lives up here (scary!) for those who are curious.

Things to keep in mind:
1. In TN, a homeschool day generally consists of 4 hours of work. This may sound preposterous but trust me, with only a handful of kiddos to instruct, fewer bathroom breaks, no milk money to collect, and very little down-time, we can get so much done in that short time. In fact, if you took a typical public school day and removed all the distractions, trips to other rooms/restroom, breaks in between classes, lunch/recess, and teacher duties such as taking attendance or collecting monies, I dare say you'd end up with about 4-5 good solid hours of instruction. I used to do some subbing in our elementary schools and I do recall quite a bit of non-instructional time. My Special Education teacher pals tell me that the paperwork they have especially is horrendous and takes a large amount of their time.

For younger children most of this can be hands-on. As the kids tend to age, the work also tends to be more bookish. My high schooler *sometimes* takes 5-6 hours a day to finish his work load. Part of the length of time involved will be determined by how fast your child grasps the work, how focused he is on the task, and the type of curriculum you're using. Some homeschool textbooks contain a lot of busy-work, as they were written and geared towards use in a Christian school classroom.

2. What is typical? No two homeschool families are alike. Try reading Rhonda Barfield's Real-Life Homeschooling or Nancy Lande's Homeschooling: a Patchwork of Days. Homeschoolers have real-life interruptions...a sick parent, emergency room visit with a younger sibling, unexpected phone calls and visits, or even a cranky baby can upset the day's plans. What is "typical" this year may not be next year if Mom is expecting another child...or Grandpa is in the ICU for weeks...or dad gets a new job and the family has to pack up and move. Those types of things certainly affect any family, but even more so a homeschool family, because the kids are right there during it all. I don't feel this is a bad thing; this is what real life is and these are the struggles children will turn into adults to find placed upon them.

3. What works for one family might be a disaster for another. My thoughts on it are to first follow the laws set forth in your area, and then use the flexibility of it to make homeschooling fit your family, not the other way around. Not an early bird? Then don't try to teach at 7 am. Have to work part-time? Do schooling when you're home or have Dad or a friend teach a few classes here and there. Have a really busy week? Do some work on the weekends. Like to sleep in? Focus on using your afternoons or evenings for the majority of your school load. The beauty of it is in the flexibility.

Join me again later for part 2.

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