I have to admit, I envy those moms who can get all their kids through their lessons in a matter of two hours every day. In my house it seems like we’re working from 9am until 2:30 when A.J. would have gotten home from school. That’s not all that far different than their school hours. The difference is it’s a more relaxed pace and we seem to get a whole lot less done, in a round about way.
Maybe I just didn’t notice before my kids went to school, but we spend a lot of time out of our day working on stuff. Even the stuff that doesn’t come in the format of curriculum based schooling gets a lot of time. Each of the kids spends 30-45 minutes on the computer, which is followed by the same amount of game time. We spend no more than 30 minutes on math. Sander does all of four pages in his phonics workbooks, and they all do more than 20 minutes of reading time. A good chunk of that is me reading to them. We end up spending a good part of our day working together.
It also feels like we don’t get that much done for the time we spend, which may seem kind of silly. I mean, we get a lot of information out there (though how much is retained is a mystery to me), and I do my best to make sure my kids are educated to the best of my ability, but it feels like we could be doing more, or maybe should be doing more.
I have to wonder how these other moms do it. I keep hearing that homeschooling takes an average of two hours a day for elementary kids and I’m just not seeing it. We’re working for a steady five hour block at least, and while it’s not all formal school work, we go through a lot of information. It doesn’t feel like we do much, but we do.
Take today as an example. We learned about Hammurabi’s Code. We read about the making of a mummy. Beekee and I read about recycling. Luca and I read about frogs. Sander and Beekee did their math. Then we watched these videos:
Granted, the videos were both short, but it’s just one more thing I can add to the stuff we did today. It all adds up over time. It works into quite a long day of learning. We seem to fit in so incredibly much every day.
And this all goes back to the idea that unschooling really takes a lot of time with younger kids. I kind of think of it like throwing a lot of information at the kids to see what sticks. At the end of the day I’m pretty happy if any of it sticks at all. Anything they find particularly interesting we can go into deeper. Things that are less interesting (which seems to be anything I throw at them) get tossed aside and aren’t gone into any more in depth. It seems to be working for us so far.
Okay, okay, I take that back. Some things have stuck. The kids wanted to learn more about the pyramids and mummies. They were interested in the You Wouldn’t Want To Be books. They really like the SciShow Kids shows, and they’re enjoying watching the animals on Animal Wonders. We’re undoubtedly going to expand our homeschooling videos to include other things that get tossed my way (like this video I just thought to pop up again for no explicable reason other than I was reminded someone sent it to me).
That’s kind of what unschooling is about. “Look! This is so cool! Don’t you think it’s cool? Let’s totally learn about it!” Granted, I don’t have the knowledge to back up a lot of what I’ve seen in these shows. I’ve been out of the science world and can’t tell you why this stuff is cool, but I hope that by exposing the kids to some of this stuff we might be lead to other things that the kids want to learn more about.
That comes down to the whole point of all this. All this stuff takes a lot of time. Reading together takes time. Finding and sharing videos takes time. Watching documentaries takes time. Introducing the kids to cool new concepts takes time. Even the basic curriculum stuff takes time. All of it carves out time from my usual day (which was typically spent kicking around online while Luca was napping and playing guitar). It’s not something you can really go into thinking “This is going to be so much less work, only two hours a day!” This is something that takes dedication and really becomes a lifestyle.
I guess the one thing I can say about homeschooling, and really unschooling, is I hope you like your kids. If you choose this path it means spending a lot of time with them. Of course, it also means you get to learn a lot of really cool things right alongside them, so I suppose that’s cool. It makes it really worth it in the end, but boy do I wish someone had warned me about all that.
It’s funny, though, sending the kids to school made me forget what the “work” of homeschooling is really like. It’s less work than fighting the school system, that’s for sure. If nothing else, at the end of the day I can never say I’ve had a boring day at home!