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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Do Homeschoolers Know If They Are Doing Enough

It is a very common question, all homeschoolers ask themselves, at one time or another. One of the online groups I belong to, did a great post on this subject. The parent wanted to know, how could she be sure she was doing enough. She had a 3 yr old at home, that could be distracting, to her older learners. I can relate to this with two dogs, and keeping Caitlin busy before she started school work. For me I keep the dogs apart, during the first half of the school day. They want to play, and cause quite a distraction to my kids. When Caitlin was not in homeschool activities I would be sure she was busy with puzzles, coloring, computer games, etc. Keeping her active, and quiet was a challenge, so DJ could concentrate. Anyway, here is the post from the moderator of the group, she is a certified teacher, and has homeschooled her own children.

Q:
I'm stressing myself out worrying that the kids aren't doing enough schoolwork. How do I know if we are doing enough?

A:
There is no set answer to this question. There isn't an exact amount of time (nor of work) that each child should do each day.

Some people work with *time guidelines.*
The average kindergartner is going to spend no more than 30 minutes a day on lessons (Some spend much less, maybe 30 minutes 2 or 3 times a week to start with.)--this means "sit down" lessons; if you play educational videos, take nature walks, go on field trips, etc., then obviously the time will be more if you include these "hidden lessons".
The average homeschooled second grader will spend about 2 to 3 hours a day on lessons. From there the amount of time spent on lessons daily will increase by about 20 to 30 minutes each year, with the average high school senior spending about 6 hours a day on lessons.
If your child is spending more time than this on lessons, you may be asking too much of your child. Remember that students in a standard classroom may be in the classroom for 6 or 7 hours, but that includes a *lot* of wasted time, down time, waiting time, time spent moving to the next activity, time doing busy work while the teacher does something else, etc. If a young homeschooler were to spend 6 or 7 hours on lessons, the child and parent will soon be burned out.

Some people work with *goals.*
Set some goals for your child. Perhaps you'll pick 3 core subjects that your child should work on 5 days a week; the other subjects, you'll throw in 2 or 3 times a week. (A couple of things to consider here: Many public schools these days skip certain subjects, such as social studies, most of the year because they aren't on the FCAT, so your children will still be getting more social studies if you do it twice a week than the average public school student. Also, two days of a subject done one-on-one usually means more learning than 5 days of that subject done without any one-on-one attention.)
Some beginning homeschoolers find it best to start with one core subject, such as daily math lessons. Then, once that schedule is established, they gradually add in another and another until they can settle on a routine.
Others may choose goals based on what they want to cover during the year. By looking at the books and breaking them up into chunks, they may realize that covering one or two lessons a week will get through most of the book by the end of the year. (Remember, few public schools ever cover more than 2/3 of a book; so don't feel that you *have* to finish each book within a year.)
Or they may focus on the main topics that they want the child to master. Having a list of topics to cover and checking them off as they are covered, can help you see if you are making adequate progress.

Some people determine this based on *observing their children.*
If the children seem too stressed out, you may be pushing them too hard and need to slow down a bit. If the children seem bored and are getting into too much trouble, then you may not be doing enough intellectual things with them; they meay need more lessons. If the children are active and generally contented, and playing games that sometimes include pretending things related to the lessons, or sometimes drawing pictures related to the lessons, or sometimes telling other people about things related to the lessons, then you may have just the right balance.

The one-on-one nature of homeschooling means that our lessons can get more done in less time than in a factory-like school setting. We can take advantage of teachable moments to teach lessons when the children are most open to them. We can do more lessons orally. We don't have to have quizzes and tests to tell whether they are learning since we have only a few students to deal with. We can turn daily activities into lessons as we talk about fractions while cooking, or talk about the Middle Ages while the kids play knights and castles, or talk about health lessons while the child is in bed dealing with a cold. So, less time will be spent in sit down lessons than in the average school. Yet studies show that homeschooled children do as well, or better, on tests than the average public schooled child. Learning not to worry too much about doing enough is part of parents getting away from the public school mentality... .

As you can see, public schools spend a lot of downtime maitaining control, and quiet also. Homeschooled children however, get more one on one time, with the teacher.

Lesson Plans For 10/01/09:

Half Day of School
Caitlin:
Reading: HOP Pig Wig Can Hit
Printing practice
Number printing: 6-10
Alphabet Book: Letter N

DJ:
No Health class
Math: Division, numerations to one million, estimating sums
Language Arts: Punctuation, prefixes, homophones
Reading Comprehension: Worksheet
Cursive Writing
Spelling/Vocab: Write each spelling word two times each

2 comments:

Meaghan Dawn said...

Hi Melissa,

Your blog is great!
Our site www.freeprintable.com offers plenty of free resources perfect for homeschoolers. Free items includes worksheets, lesson plans, math and music sheets, and alot more.
We would love to have our link added to your blog!
Let me know if you would like more information.

Regards,
Meaghan Dawn
freeprintables2009@yahoo.com

Melissa said...

Thank you, I will definitely check your site out.

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