Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home schooling: week 7

In The Learning Gap, Stevenson and Stigler remark on much time is lost in American schools, (as compared with schools in East Asia) to transitions: time spent transitioning between classes; time spent transition from activity to activity within a class; time spent regaining the class's attention after it has been totally distracted by those lengthy transitions.

Now in my 7th week of home schooling H, I'm appreciating how easily home schoolers can go to the opposite extreme. No more laborious lining up and waiting to enter or exit rooms, buildings, and buses; no more waiting for everyone to wrap up an activity and locate all the materials they need for the next one; no more waiting until the class quiets down, or until someone finally answers the teacher's question, or until it's finally your turn for the teacher to help you out.

Instead, we can line up all the materials ahead of time, in order, on the long dining room table. Lunch is just one room away. The basement, or "gym" (roller skating and ping pong), is just below you. Mommy is never more than a couple of rooms away and can come running and your beck and call. For field trips, you just hop on your bike or catch the trolley a block away. That's not to say that we don't take breaks. But you have much more time for real breaks--and long breaks--when you're being so much more productive. For, besides minimal transitions, we try our best to have absolutely no busy work.

As Dierdre Mundy has observed in one of her comments on this blog:
If [schools] eliminated all the busy work, the school day would only be about an hour and a half long! And then people would have to PAY for babysitters!
Of course, as soon as you start home schooling you relinquish those baby sitting services, and may finding yourself not quite as productive in your other professional capacities as you were earlier.

1 comment:

LynnG said...

I struggle to figure out when is enough enough. Because we can be focused and productive, sometimes I have the tendency to persist well past the point of diminishing returns. Some days we need to quit at 1 pm, even though we only started at 10 am, but it really is enough.
I have yet to find my homeschool rhythm.