Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How many hours of education a day?

In my new state we have to keep track of school days (180) or hours (900 for elementary students). Some people I've met take this very seriously and diligently track hours for each of their children. Imagine trying to log hours for 4 children, individually! One woman told me she does this; she hates it and finds it frustrating, but says she can't think of a better way to fulfill the requirements of the law. Some homeschooling moms just print a grid of 180 squares and write in the date every day till it's filled up. (The lady with 4 kids shuddered when I told her that.)

Most people probably fall somewhere in between. I came to the conclusion that if we do math, I count the day. I know that if math gets done, at least 5 hours of learning is going to take place in my house that day, or I'll make it up some other day. Because, of course, learning goes on all the time. We can't really stop it, if the kids have interesting stuff around to read and do and look at.

But even that's not an accurate method. Today we are all feeling a little under the weather, so we made a blanket nest on the family room floor and I've been reading. We did our Bible and Catechism reading, and then read By Wagon and Flatboat, a historical novel set just after the American Revolution. Both of my kids could read this book on their own, but it makes a good read-aloud too, and there are lots of opportunities to stop and talk about slaves, and flatboats, and hospitality out on the frontier. ("People just let strangers stay in their house?") And the ever-popular topic: who were the bad guys, the Indians or the settlers?

By about 1:30 we'd gotten in the 5 hours that could call it a day, at least. Because even when I stopped reading for a few minutes - to make soup, or call to complain about an incorrect phone bill, or get some more tea - the kids were doing something. E draws constantly, even while I'm reading. J reaches for his new airplane book, Paper Pilot, reads it and works on a model from it. In fact, he was reading it even before he got out of bed this morning; he brought it to me and read some interesting facts about one of the planes. (He'd be mad that I've already forgotten the plane and the facts; he, on the other hand, will never forget them. ) E has been reading one of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books; not great literature, but a kids' classic anyway. Oh, I guess she finished it because now I see she's reading The Hundred Dresses which will surely start some more conversation.

In a couple of weeks we'll attend a reenactment of one of the Revolutionary War battles fought nearby. I'll count that day too, you bet. Even if we don't do any math.

8 comments:

kerri @ gladoil said...

Do you have to keep track of the days and times the learning takes place? Or just count off the hours. I would be keeping track of every miniscule thing that happened to get it done as quickly as possible so we could get back to 'life'!

Marbel said...

The law is a little vague. We have to keep a "contemporaneous log" showing that we did school, but not what we did (as far as I can tell and from what I've been told). So, a grid of 180 squares with dates is apparently OK. Or a calendar with the "school days" marked. We are also to keep some sort of journal of what we did each day, but apparently we don't have to show it to anyone, but have to attest (in our yearly affidavit) that we are keeping it. So it's pretty vague which is good, in a way, except that then it's open to interpretation by the school districts.

Right now E is glitter-gluing some of those little plastic suncatcher things while J is working on a paper airplane model from a book. I am counting this as schooltime for them. (Though I don't count my hours, just days, but a 5-hour day is assumed.)

If my kid wakes up at 6:30 and starts reading wouldn't that count too? I just can't get that crazy about it. If we do only 4 hours on Friday, but on Saturday spend 2 hours reading a Dickens novel aloud, wouldn't that count?

See what I mean? It's really stupid. There, I've said it. It's just stupid.

kerri @ gladoil said...

No kidding. I completely agree.

Dana said...

I don't know about your state...NE requires a minimum number of hours (which is equivalent to the number of hours in the public school, I might add!) but no recording.

I used to stress about it. Then I realized that school teachers do not stand there with a clock they punch when the kids are learning. And they don't clock out during assemblies, breaks and classroom disruptions. It is all "the school day."

We have a general period of time in which we "do school" but education extends well beyond that. So the hours are there. I am glad I don't have to log them, but I don't think I personally would stress too much about the fact that the younger one is playing playdough while I read with the older. To me, they are both doing their "school."

Betsy@Thehomeschoolway said...

I am so thankful that I live in a state where I just have to school 180 days and all that takes is a checkmark on my calendar!

TheTutor said...

I just moved out of the "contemporaneous log" state. (Now I write my kids name and address on an index card at the beginning of the year... done!) I was a modified-grid person. I had 180 squares with the required subjects listed. I checked off which subjects we did each day. Once I got used to recording, it was easy... but still annoying and intrusive. Everyone finds their own style, eventually. I'm glad you are finding yours and just getting on with the schooling life. Blessings to you!

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