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Question: How much time should you spend teaching your children while homeschooling? At school they were taught from 8 a.m.-2:15. I spend a lot of time with my children but all our study and work is completed earlier than when they were in school. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right time frame. Also, should testing be weekly by me (which is what I do) and monthly by an outside facility?
Answer:

Dear Mom,

Thank you so for your letter. You have raised an issue which I believe many homeschooling mothers struggle to understand. We naturally want our children to first, use their time wisely and secondly understand what we have tried to teach. After all, this is the foundation of the process, isn't it?

The amount of time that it may take an individual family to complete the assigned work will vary from family to family. Remember that this is also the case in the public school teaching system. You are probably finishing the outlined work in a timely fashion because you (unlike a public school teacher) do not have to deal with the outside interruptions which can slow progress. These interruptions will range from lunch and bathroom breaks to discipline problems. Another reason many homeschooling families are able to complete their work in short order, probably lies with the teaching style and learning style of the family. In a classroom situation the teacher is compelled to teach to the majority. She must use what seems to work for most of the students. It is a great disadvantage that she is unable to gear her teaching to the unique needs of each student. On the other hand you as a teacher/parent have discovered what works individually and uniquely for your children. This can't help but speed the process along. I would assure you that if you are content with the progress that you are making, then I applaud your style and efforts. Keep up the good work and do not be anxious about "how it is done in the public school."

Testing is an issue that comes up frequently in homeschooling circles. To test or not to test. I have spoken with teachers in the public system and they have shared with me the current trend with regard to weekly testing of skills that were covered. I have learned from these persons whose opinion I trust, that testing in its purest sense is really a way to determine the comprehension level of the students. This is far better accomplished through methods that are not geared towards mere reciting facts. For example, having a student reteach the material to you or a younger sibling is very positive. Games that challenge the student to remember the facts, etc. are positive as well. I believe that it was Einstein who said, "I can not say that I understand a concept until I can explain it to your grandmother and she can understand what I have said." Remember that testing is really a tool that allows the teacher to determine what the student knows. Any way that this can be accomplished should be acceptable.

In our homeschool we stay with a concept until we feel that it is mastered. I want to make certain that the material is understood and appreciated so that we can move to the next level. It is a certain fact that each lesson builds upon the previous. There really is no reason to hurry a student to complete work for the sake of it. This only slows their progress in the long run.

With the case of Math (5th grade and beyond) my husband teaches this to the children. They are not finished with a concept until they can explain it to me and I understand what they are saying.

I admire your resolve to do your very best for your children. A concerned parent willing to make the commitment to ensure that their child masters a particular skill is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Your children are very best to have a mommy that understands their uniqueness. Keep up the good work and the Lord will continue to empower you with the knowledge that will indeed make your time with your children fruitful and peaceful.

Jesus, we love You and praise You for the gift of knowledge. Help us as parents to work within Your will to teach our children in a loving manner. Give us the clear knowledge that unless we teach our children to come to You we have taught them nothing and what is learned will be in vain. Help us to order our priorities each day. We strive to love You more fully through the work of human hands. Amen.

Here is a real life teacher hint. Teachers call them exit questions. Before the children are allowed to go outside to play, get in or out of the van, or dash from the schoolroom they must first answer an exit question as their "ticket" to move forward. This works great with things like multiplication facts, geography facts, or any concept that you are currently teaching. The children love the challenge and the fun of "tickets."

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

   
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