'Where will you find the time to teach your children six hours a day?'
An extract from Answering Objections to Homeschooling, a booklet by Beverley Paine
“How do you answer all the questions people ask? I’m sure, like me, you’ve come across situations like these below…
Scenario 1: homeschool mother with three children meets friend in shopping mall. They both have children the same age, youngest five years old. The homeschool mum doesn’t have much time; her children are becoming restless and she promised them they’d have time to play in the park before heading home. School term started three weeks ago…
Scenario 2: Your school-aged children load groceries onto the checkout at the supermarket. The assistant mumbles his usual greeting and then notices the children and asks, “What, no school today?”
Scenario 3: Grandma and Grandpa finally corner you when the children run outside to play. They’re concerned about Jordan’s reading ability. His spelling is appalling for an eight year old. Shouldn’t he be writing cursive by now? When are you going to send him back to school?
Scenario 4: Your sister is a school teacher. She doesn’t want to intrude, but she’s concerned that Anna, your homeschooled eleven year old, doesn’t have any friends…
Scenario 5: Waiting for a bus, an elderly woman strikes up a conversation, at first with approving interest, but as she talks she reminisces about her own schooling and eventually begins to loudly denigrate home education in all its forms…
With a few minor changes in detail we’ve all been here, searching for answers that will send the concerned person away content that we’re not abusing or neglecting our children. Some days we are lucky to have the time and energy to patiently answer the questions and concerns. Other days are not so good. We feel the energy sap from our bodies and minds as we mumble the same old responses. They begin to sound lame, our confidence drops…"
Questions similar to this one (one of many covered in the booklet):
"'Where will you find the time to teach your children six hours a day?'
Who's teaching them six hours a day right now? Take away the time needed for lunch, recess, gathering the children into classrooms, settling them down, managing unruly children, roll call, attending to notices and reminders… Most of the remaining hours are spent working in groups, doing individual assignments or completing exercises in work books. How often does a single child receive fifteen minutes of one-on-one quality time with a teacher a day? If we sit down and work with one child for half an hour with one subject every day we’re already doing more for that child than most teachers can hope to do.
Real conversations between adults and children are absent in the classroom, and it is these conversations that help to advance children’s understanding and knowledge about the world. Children need and want honest, unhurried, serious conversations about topics important to them; they want to be able to daydream and share their imaginings with others; they want time to be themselves, to be alone, to think about everything they have learned so far. They need to have their questions answered or at least attended to: if you don’t know the answer it’s okay to say “I don’t know. I’ll find the answer later if you still need it.”
More than anything children need to participate in the real world beside people living busy, productive and meaningful lives. Most of what children learn they learn by watching, listening, having a go: children truly learn by example. What we do every day as parents running our homes offers amazing learning opportunities for children. Our hobbies and interests, our work – and the hobbies, interests and work of other adults – intrigues children. By inviting our children to join in and help us and share our interests and work, we naturally cover many areas of the school curriculum without any extra effort.
This is one of my favourite answers to this objection:
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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