Ah, the Tyranny of the Urgent!

How often do we shove aside the things we WANT to do because of the things we think we OUGHT to do…or the things others tell us we OUGHT to do?

I remember when I was first starting to homeschool. I found a list of “required” subjects for graduation from public school. That list loomed before me. It seemed insurmountable. All those textbooks we’d have to get through! All that homework I would have to make my children do! All those workbook pages and timed drills and tests! If the scope and sequence seemed overwhelming to me as an adult, I could hardly blame my children for acting like they’d been condemned to 13 years of forced labor.

Then I thought, “Who made that list? We homeschool, so it’s ALL homework!” I started to look at what was actually required and ask myself what was truly necessary.

Yes, I know. Sometimes the states in which we live have rules we homeschool parents are required to follow (and we SHOULD obey the governing authorities, because God said so), but rather than living out of fear we often have freedom to interpret HOW we will fulfill educational requirements.

Each state sets rules for home schools, but parents have freedom to interpret HOW to fulfill those educational requirements. Click To Tweet

Consider: public schools require approximately 180 days of attendance, but there are 365 days in a year. If homeschoolers match those 180 days, we still have more than half the year free!

Let’s put it another way: public school is in session for approximately 7 hours on those 180 days–1260 hours per school year…but we know that some of those hours include lunch, recess, and other necessary breaks. (Goodness! Even adults get time for breaks at work.) There are 8760 hours in a calendar year. We sleep about 2920 of them (roughly 1/3). The time we’re required to spend on educational pursuits is less than 14%. That’s an average of just 3.5 hours/day if we school year round.

Suddenly homeschooling looked a lot more do-able! 🙂

Now let me throw in a disclaimer. I was NOT looking for an excuse to shirk work. Quite the contrary, in those early years I was afraid I might somehow fail to teach my children all they would need to succeed in a competitive world. But those fears subsided as I began to see my children flourish and grow.

Does your state require textbooks? Workbooks? Tests? Or is the method of teaching left open-ended? Are you not free to teach skills in a variety of ways?

Yes, assignments and tests are two way of proving that required material has been covered, but so is a nature journal or a photograph of a family field trip.

When you have a large number of students who must be prepared in 180 calendar days to pass on to the next level, textbooks and tests are an efficient way of segmenting information and collecting data about how much each has learned. But when you have only your own children to teach and an entire childhood to do it, there is room to relax a bit. Give them time to become comfortable with new material, experiment with new skills, and master new information with confidence.

Always remember to take time for the fun stuff. Indeed we learn better when it’s fun to learn.