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7 Homeschool Heresies
"Or Are They Really?"
By: Terri Johnson | Published: October 10, 2011
Do you remember when the “holiday season” started on or around Thanksgiving? Now I am told that it begins on the
first of October. Goodness sakes! Maybe that sounds cozy and delightful to you, but truly, it is a marketing ploy
designed to get consumers to buy more - from halloween costumes to fall decorations to hostess gifts to fancy
sugar-laden food, etc. I’m not buying it… exactly.
But whether I agree with the commercialization of the fall and winter holidays, doesn’t change the fact that the
distractions exist and I am left to figure out what to do with them. Take halloween costumes for example… when did
it become embarrassing to wear home-made costumes. Does every kid need a new costume off the rack every year? I
hope not or we’d have gone broke several years ago!
Well, in this vein of sarcasm, I write to you about my 7 homeschool heresies and hope that you will find some
encouragement or a least a chuckle somewhere within.
Terri’s 7 Homeschool Heresies:
(I call these Homeschool Heresies because sometimes when I share one of these ideas, I will receive a look of shock
from the listener, as though I had just said something terrible.)
1. You can do school when YOU want to!
You do not have to start at 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning. If it works better for your schedule, you can do school
with your children in the afternoon. I did this a couple of times when I had a baby or toddler who was taking a nap
in the afternoon and it was the only time that I could concentrate whole-heartedly on the task at hand.
2. You do not have to do every subject every day, or every week, or even every year!
We do grammar 3x a week and spelling 2x a week. We do science 3x a week and history 4x a week. You might decide to
do history one week and then science the next, or even a monthly rotation, even yearly. You don’t have to start
grammar until 3rd grade. Keep your daily subjects reasonable - don’t do more than 4-5 a day. During the holidays,
you can trim this to 3 or 4.
3. You can be finished before noon!
In fact, you should be if you have kids in grades 6 and under. Schoolwork with the little ones should take 2 hours
or less. My high schoolers spend 3-5 hours a day on their school work, usually closer to 3 or 4. And they take
outside classes and can still pull this off!
4. You should never reward quick work with more work!
This is the surest way to squelch efficiency in your homeschool. If a child works quickly and completes what you
have asked him to do, reward that child with extra free time or a fun activity that he/she has been longing to do.
If you want your kids to work slowly, then make them do extra work when they finish before the time you have
allotted for that subject.
5. Don’t turn every interest that your child has into a unit study!
This is another way to squelch the love of learning, particularly the love of learning about something on your own.
If every time your child shows a passion for something (say butterflies or racing cars) and you decide to assign a
paper on it, they will stop sharing with you their interests. Am I against unit studies? Oh, far to the contrary!
We love to do unit studies to break up the monotony of school, especially during the winter and spring months.
We’ll talk more about unit studies in a few minutes.
6. School is a given!
School should be so much a part of your routine that your kids do not ask you, “Are we doing school today?” It
should be on the same level as brushing teeth or getting dress. School is just what we do. Besides, routine is
comforting for children. In fact, when we have something special planned and I am secretly planning to give my kids
the day off school, they will often have it finished before I get up and have my first cup of coffee.
7. Take days off when you want to (or need to)!
You are the master of your schedule and you are in charge. If you want to take a day off school, then do it! The
beauty of homeschooling is that we can choose our days off. We often do not take the federally recognized holidays
off, such as Columbus Day or Veterans Day. We sometimes do not take 2 weeks off at Christmas, maybe only one and
get back to it after Christmas, instead of waiting until after New Years. But I almost always take the entire week
of Thanksgiving off because I have relatives coming into town and want to get the house clean and the food prepared
in advance. Take the days off that you will most enjoy and need the most to get other things accomplished.