More Kindergarten

In CategoryHome Schooling

Yeah, you know you’re fascinated.

So, once again I commented on a post at Pioneer Woman Homeschooling. And once again, I thought my response was so fantastic that I should post it over here. Because a) I am so modest that way, and b) I know I have some beginning homeschooling readers and I want to encourage them, and c) I don’t have to come up with original material.

The community question was written by a newbie homeschooler who is discouraged because she doesn’t feel she met her state’s 4 hours-per-day-of-instruction minimum.

Colorado has a 4 hour minimum, too, and I remember fretting quite a bit about that when we first started homeschooling.

Some of the other (public school) commentors were telling her that 4 hours a day was nothing, and she should suck it up because their kids did way more than that in public school, and what the heck kind of lazy ass homeschooler was she? And not only was she a slacker, but maybe also a liar who needed to be held accountable because the state had those rules in place for a reason and society can’t just go around taking a parent’s word for it, of all things, that their kids are being educated.

I may be paraphrasing there a little.

Nevertheless, I thought it was unhelpful and even kind of rude. And also I don’t understand why public school parents and teachers feel the need to weigh in on a homeschooling blog with advice that doesn’t actually pertain to the issue at hand. It’s annoying.

ANYway, here is what I want to say to new homeschoolers who fret over the required hours of instruction. I’ve been there. I haven’t whipped the anxiety completely, but it is lessening.

Maybe this is a result of being in my forties now. I don’t have the energy to worry as much? Or maybe I just finally have that confidence thing that you hear so much about from old women Oprah women in their forties. Whichever.

First let me say – and I don’t care if this sounds rude or harsh – but ignore everyone who says that 4 hours a day isn’t that much because the public schools are even longer. What happens in public school is not relevant to homeschooling. It’s apples and oranges. The longer I homeschool (THREE WHOLE YEARS, so yeah – expert here), the more I realize that homeschooling and traditional schooling are barely even in the same realm. Don’t beat yourself up by trying to compare your education environment at home to what goes on in school. Or to what goes on in other homeschools (I’m still working on this one, honestly).

Ignore people who are harshing your mellow, man. IGNORE THEM.

Secondly, my state has a 4 hour a day minimum also, so I am familiar with that anxiety. When I was doing Kindy with my son, I worried about that number a lot. But I could SEE that even though we weren’t doing 4 hours of in-your-seat, staring-at-a-blackboard instruction every day, he WAS learning.

So I started making a list. For about a week, I observed him as he played, and I wrote down everything he did that was educational. He cut numbers and letters out of construction paper. He played with the Leapfrog and watched Leapfrog videos. He organized and played with math counters endlessly, he played with magnetic letters on a whiteboard I had hung at kid level, he did Hidden Picture puzzles and mazes and simple word searches and read his BOB books…. He had swimming lessons and ice skating lessons and we went to the zoo and the dinosaur museum and the children’s museum… And then, of course, we also did probably about two 45 minute school sessions per day.

And it all added up to more than 4 hours.

So just because you are not spending 4 hours a day with your child in a chair and you right beside him doing math worksheets, there is still a lot of learning taking place. If you look for it, you will be amazed. Little kids are sponges. EVERYTHING they do is educational.

So cut yourself some slack, mom.

Also remember that if you do a years’ worth of math in a year, it counts as a years’ worth of work, even if it only took you 20 minutes a day. It’s not your fault if your kid works faster than some stupid metric based on the average public school student says he should.

We sometimes do Evan-Moor Daily Science and Daily Geography. There are 36 chapters and you are meant to do one page a day for 36 weeks. We can do an entire chapter in 20 minutes. We do 2 chapters a week. Is it a problem that my child can absorb a years’ worth of science in half a year? No. Does it mean that he didn’t do a years’ worth of work? No. Is the faceless government man going to be more concerned with how much he learned or how many minutes he spent learning it?

Do I care what the government thinks of me? Only inasmuch as I can keep them out of my business, and that’s the truth.

If you make a paper schedule, mentally allow one hour per subject. If your child can do his allotted math assignment in less than an hour? Good for him. Free time is awesome. If you are having a tough day and you spend 57 minutes arguing over the proper way to make a 9 (I mean, I’ve HEARD of that happening…), so math takes 2 hours and then you go hide in a closet with a pan of brownies? That happens too. It all evens out.

Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Give yourself a break.

That’s really what I would say to anyone new to homeschooling: give yourself a break. It’s hard. It’s a huge learning curve. You will find your opinions about school and education and what works for your family changing CONSTANTLY. And then you are on a whole new learning curve. And then your child gets older and needs something different. Or you add in another kid and they need something different than the ONE thing you already mastered with the first one. And then there are multiple, simultaneous learning curves happening in your head.

And then it’s 10 o’clock at night and everyone is finally in bed and you discover The Real Housewives, which requires no thinking – just a bowl of ice cream and the ability to shout at the television, “OH MY GOSH YOU STUPID COW.”

But you don’t watch The Jersey Shore. Keep some standards, wouldja?