Time’s Up!: Challenging the Fifty-Five Minute Class

Time's_UpWhen 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!

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Afraid of the Clock?

Afraid_ClockWe’re homeschoolers. This means we have the freedom to wake up when we want, go to bed when we want, start school when we want, take breaks when we want, and even do learning in the middle of the night if we want. Time is our friend and we take advantage of every moment we have. But, in all our lovely freedom, have we developed a fear of the clock?

love living by routine. Ask anyone who knows me well. I enjoy having a fixed schedule and working within parameters. After having several kids and homeschooling for over ten years, I’ve needed to learn to lighten up. Just because I enjoy working under more strict guidelines doesn’t mean this works for everyone. Our family routine tends to be much more flexible than I would have originally preferred, but it’s what works best for our life style.

While I understand the need for a more laid-back learning style, there seems to be a growing trend within the homeschool community at large. Some of us have developed a hatred of our clocks.

I wonder why this is? We shy away from group activities which force us to be available at certain times. We stress if expected to be somewhere at a given time. We hardly ever administer deadlines to our children. And, most interesting of all, we avoid timed tests in our homes.

Now, I don’t expect everyone to homeschool in the same manner. Nor do I expect anyone to embrace a rigid timeline of learning. But, I’d be curious to know why some families feel as if the clock is our enemy. I also wonder if a complete abandonment of our clocks is a good thing…

Adults are constantly up against deadlines. Bills have to be paid on a certain date. Tickets have to be purchased by a certain time. Material can be time-sensitive. Certain jobs must be done within a given time-frame. Show up five minutes late and you miss your train, bus, airplane, or get fired!

Life shouldn’t be lived according to the clock, but learning to work with the clock might be of benefit. I don’t want my children to be stressed by confined learning times, but I also don’t want them to treat time with nonchalance. There are times they will have the freedom of time, but others when time is of the essence.

May they learn the difference between the two and make the most of the time they have.

🔔Time to Chime In: How big a role does the clock play in your homeschool routine?

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My Future Starts When I Wake

I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.

~ Miles Davis

My_FutureThe life of a homeschooler is an adventure, isn’t it? Our daily routines can be a little chaotic. Add the fact that my husband also happens to be self-employed and you increase the fun.

While we might have the freedom to choose our routine, the fact remains that dedicated learning time must take place. In order to do this, one must actually emerge from under the covers and make a start to the day. However, this could be a real challenge.

Given that we don’t have a firm bedtime, do we stand firm on a wakeup time? Personally, I prefer waking up at a good hour (meaning early), getting responsibilities out-of-the-way and leaving afternoons for additional fun and learning in the field. Unfortunately, the kiddos don’t agree with me.

My kiddos would prefer to get up when they want to. As in noon. And, yeah, I just don’t see that happening. However, forcing them to wake at the crack of dawn when they might have gotten to bed a little late due to a homeschool outing doesn’t quite sit right either. What’s a mom to do?

I prefer having the kids in bed around ten o’clock. While that might seem a little late for some, it fits our routine quite well. Usually I have them up again, getting ready for the day around eight the next morning. This allows them ten hours of solid sleep, starting off the day well rested and ready for action.

I am the first to admit this does not always happen. Thus, waking up can be a bit… tricky.

🔔Time to Chime In: We’re curious. Do you have a dedicated wakeup time? How do you determine when is the best time to get the kids out of bed and how long to let them sleep?

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