When our kids were little, we had the freedom to delve into our learning unconditionally. We could study as much or as little as we wanted. Once our children merged into the higher grades, every book I read advised grading and routines be based on a certain amount of time spent in each subject; so many hours equalled a full course of study. Did I really want to set my children on a course where learning had a time-table? I couldn’t imagine myself saying, “Time’s Up!”
There were many books we read to help us better prepare for junior and senior high. Most of them advised a minimum of 55 minutes per subject per day in order for the children to fully learn the subject and give enough credit to complete each course of study. While I understand the heart behind this principle – you want to ensure your child is being fully immersed in the subject and has opportunity to explore – I think this can sometimes be misleading.
Veteran homeschoolers understand that to fully intake a class, a child does not need to sit with book in hand taking copious notes and staring at diagrams for an hour each day. (Although at times this might be helpful.) Learning comes in many forms. At times it will be on field trips, with hands-on learning, or interviewing those currently working in those fields. Sitting at a desk is merely one way our children learn.
I wonder how many new homeschooling families get confused over this issue? Do they panic at the thought of having to time their classes; stressing over whether or not they met the guidelines? I imagine that is enough to send anyone into a fit of vapors and become discouraged.
In our home, I generally do not time our learning. My children understand we have a routine. We start with one subject and move forward until all topics for the day have been covered. Even my daughters who are in high school are not timed during their learning day. I do not stress over whether or not they did learning for a particular length of time. Why is this? Because I understand some learning will be done much quicker, especially if this subject is of particular interest. I also understand some subjects take longer, depending on the day and my children’s focus.
How do we ensure our children are getting enough exposure in a given area? Through careful planning. We try to balance our book work with plenty of in-the-field training, trips, and projects to help them better understand each subject. Life is learning. With a little creativity and thoughtfulness, we can easily use this to enhance our lessons.
Does this mean we never time our children? Not necessarily. There are a few areas of study which do get timed. Our children need to understand sometimes in life this is necessary. When taking college courses, our children will be expected to complete tests in a given time period and turn in assignments on a given date. I want them to be fully prepared to enter into adulthood. So, while everything is not tested and timed, I do try to balance the two and help our children mature.
Time it not a major factor in our learning day. We study each topic to our hearts content and finish when we are done. We follow a loose routine and follow the leading of the Lord. For those new to homeschooling, I would encourage you to carefully consider how you establish your growing student’s schedule. Fifty-five minutes a day does not a course make.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
~ Proverbs 16:9
Your Turn!: What guidelines do you use to help establish a full course for junior and senior high students? Share your thoughts with the rest of us!