There is a big secret that homeschoolers everywhere know, but we don’t want to tell you. If we told you, you would realize that it’s not as hard as it looks.
But I’ll tell you, because I’m just that nice.
Homeschooling is efficient. Really efficient.
There’s no waiting for the bus. No riding the bus. No walking from one class to another. No waiting while the rest of the class finishes their homework. No waiting for the bell to ring. No taking a class that you don’t really need just to fill a slot in your schedule. No study hall. Lunch break only takes as long as it takes to, get this, eat lunch.
Shoot, most days that we’re not going somewhere else, my kids never get dressed. Pajamas are a homeschooler’s go-to fashion statement. In the fall when everyone is running back-to-school sales on clothes, they should run a back-to-school sale on pajamas for homeschoolers.
If a student learns best sitting at a desk, they sit at a desk. If a student learns best curled up on the couch with a book, that’s fine, too. Lap desks are wonderful. On a nice day, school might be outside. If a kid needs a break, they don’t have to wait until the bell rings for recess. They just take a break. If they’re in the middle of something, they don’t need to stop because a schedule says so. They finish what they’re doing and then move on to the next thing. We have one kid who learns best late at night and struggles with brain-engagement in the mornings, so he stays up late and does a lot of his work while the house is quiet and the others are asleep. He works the night shift.
We take every Monday off and work through most of the summer. The kids don’t have 3 consecutive months to forget everything they worked so hard all year to learn. When they start a new school year, we just pick up where they left off with hardly any review necessary. The teacher (Me!) doesn’t have to spend the first month getting used to all of the new students and figuring out their weaknesses and strengths and where the ones who just moved in are in their learning. We don’t have many (okay, any) move-ins.
If the student understands a concept, they move on. If they don’t, they continue with that concept until they have mastered it. There is, literally, no child left behind. This might mean that they spend twice the time on math that they do on grammar, or it might mean just the opposite. It’s based totally on what the student needs. There’s no waiting for everyone else to catch up. There’s no moving beyond what they really understand because everyone else is ready.
There’s also no time spent teaching just so they can pass a test. I rarely give tests because I already know how well they are doing from grading their work and interacting with them every day one-on-one. I do grade their work, but until they get into middle school I do not “give grades”. I grade the paper and then whatever they miss, they re-do until it’s right. If I see they’re having trouble with a concept, we slow down until I can tell they have mastery, and then we move on.
From what I understand, the university system in England is much more along this line than what we have here in America. Even here, it used to be more like this than it is now. My husband’s great-grandfather became a lawyer but never went to law school. He studied with a lawyer and passed the bar exam. President James Garfield said of one of his professors, “I am not willing that this discussion should close without mention of the value of a true teacher. Give me a log hut, with only a simple bench, Mark Hopkins on one end and I on the other, and you may have all the buildings, apparatus, and libraries without him.”
So now you know my little secret of why it’s not as hard as it looks.
But don’t tell anyone. Okay?