On Time

As usual, my post will start on one subject and then I’ll ramble until I am actually talking about something different.  Go with it.

Once upon a time, long long ago, when I started homeschooling (what? Less than a year ago is a long long time!)  I was concerned about the amount it would take.  How on earth could I teach my kids for eight hours a day!

Then I started looking into it and discovered that once you cut out things like taking attendance, lunch time, snack time, “choice time”, getting 30 kids to line up, traveling from room to room, recess, 2nd recess, afternoon nap time, 2nd snack time and trying to get 30 kids to get along with each other you are actually looking at more like three hours instead of eight.  Then cut out the time it takes to teach 30 different kids one concept at a time… well, three hours is kind of pushing it.  Kids catch on much faster if they are taught one on one or one on two.

I couldn’t believe it.  Neither could Matt.  Learn everything necessary in that short amount of time?  Are you joking?  So I called my sister to confirm.  She had been homeschooling her children for years and they were the most brilliant children I had ever met, so she must be doing something right.  She confirmed.  And said “It’s home school, not school at home.”  AKA, everything is different.

Matt still wasn’t convinced.  As it happens, his mother homeschooled his younger brother for fourth grade.  She confirmed to him that every day, they meticulously went through all of the work that they needed to and every day, they were finished by lunch.  And on a fraction of the amount of time, when he rejoined his peers in fifth grade, he was still lightyears ahead of them in every subject.

I’m so glad I had them to help me, I could have really messed things up if I had tried to do it like I thought I was “supposed” to.  I remember calling my sister in tears thinking about how overwhelming the whole idea was.  But in reality, it’s so much easier than it sounds.

In several ways, I feel like I have a leg up on homeschooling because I have such good examples and haven’t had to make a lot of mistakes that they do.

In other ways, I feel like I am doing exactly what I “shouldn’t” be doing.  For example, I only recently realized that in home school, there is no such thing as “starting on time”.  I know that may sound silly, but I figured that if school took 3 hours of good effort and study, and if we wanted to be done by lunch, then we had to start by 9am.  Logical right?

Well, that doesn’t always work out.  People sleep in, morning chores take longer than we think, Mom is busy throwing up because of morning sickness, Dad’s watch company requires Mom to take a dozen pictures of the prototype and post them, update the website and answer customer service questions all day long (I’m just sayin’) and the list goes on and on.  More often than not, 9 am rolls around and we are no where near starting.

Well, here’s the deal.  There is no such thing as being tardy for home school!  We start when we start.  And who cares if the 3 hours aren’t consecutive!  And I’m a HUGE fan of multi tasking.  So we are pulling double duty a lot of the time.  Those three hours are a serious stretch sometimes.

Take today for example.  We started around 9:45.  By 10 am each girls had put in a good hard effort on their phonics practice.  We are switching to a new math curriculum (Math-U-See) after Speck is born so we are taking a bit of a math break until then (legos, playing with manipulatives, pattern blocks, fractions during cooking, that kind of thing, but we’re laying off the worksheets and “lessons”).  So after reading I sent Emma and Spencer off to play with legos together (I feel I must clarify again that Emma isn’t yet Kindergarten age, so anything she does during school I consider a bonus).

Lucy read some of her Junie B Jones book to me and didn’t know what the word “isn’t” was.  So we took a break and talked about conjugation.  It took her all of three seconds to grasp the concept and she was off reading again.  How long would that lesson have taken in public school?

Lucy will spend 10 minutes reading the scriptures out loud to me.  Two birds!  I sit and read “The Story of the World” to the kids (mostly Lucy since she’s the only one that will sit and listen).  We get our one on one snuggle time and she sits wide eyed learning about how and why nomads became farmers.  “I love this book Mom, please read one more chapter!”  We looked up the Tigris and Euphrates River on the computer and the Nile.  And we read a little bit about Egyption wars and mythology.  How often do most teachers get that from a history lesson… and how often would the teacher be ABLE to read one more chapter.

I finally cut her off for Lunch and then sent them upstairs for a an hour to play with each other.  At 2, we wandered over to the skate park a couple of blocks away and met with two or three other families.  They rode bikes and scooters, drew with sidewalk chalk and jump roped for an hour with other kids.  Some of the older kids taught Lucy how to jump rope double dutch style.  Emma went up and down the skateboard ramps on her bike and Spencer, who was feeling tired snuggled up on my lap.  We would have stayed longer but we forgot water and my kiddos were thirsty.

When we got home, Lucy and Emma drank a gallon of water and went off to play with their friends who had just gotten home from school.  I had to remind them that their friends might not be able to play yet because they have homework and chores to do.

There is no such thing as “on time” with home school.  Like parenting, it starts the moment you wake up.  There is also no closing bell.  It’s home school, not school at home.  Your children learn life skills that they wouldn’t touch until high school years (if ever) because they take part in the running of their home.  They learn fractions while doubling the brownie recipe.  They sharpen their reading skills by reading to their younger siblings.  They learn grammar from mom and dad correcting their speech every day.  They learn how to research things on their own.  They learn HOW to learn, rather than just WHAT to learn.  They learn vocabulary from the books that interest them.  And above all else, they learn that Mom and Dad love them more than anyone else.

That last part something that most babies and young children naturally feel.  And I’m not worried about whether or not Lucy and Emma know how much I love them now.  Of course they know it.  I’m worried about when they hit those fun tween and teenage years when they start to push you away when you hug them and think they know more than you.  I remember what it was like to be a teenager.  I felt neglected and misunderstood.  I knew SOOO much more than my parents.  Now, whether or not I was ACTUALLY neglected or misunderstood is not the issue.  I felt it.

My other sister recently went to BYU women’s conference and just posted several wonderful quotes on her blog, two of which I think especially apply here.  I don’t know who said them though, sorry.

1. “My children only talk to me when I am with them. That takes time.”
2. “When children are out of control, spend one-on-one time with them, as much time as it takes until they find balance again.

have to constantly remind myself that when Lucy rambles endlessly about the dress she is making for her American Girl doll, that listening to her is very important.  Not because the dress is important to me, or even important to her.  But the fact that she knows that I listen to her IS important.  If I listen to her when she is 7, and I listen to her all the way until she is an adult, when she is 16 she will know that her Mom listens to her.  She won’t feel misunderstood, even when I don’t agree with her, because she will know she has been heard.

Yes, for me and my house, homeschooling is easier.  But not necessarily because it’s easier in the short term.

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