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Parents --- Homeschooling Can Take a Lot Less Time Than You Think

The time you will need to teach your children the essentials - reading, writing, and arithmetic - is much less than you think. Let me quote author and former public-school teacher John Gatto from his wonderful book, Dumbing Us Down:

"Were the colonists geniuses? [i.e., why did our colonial forefathers have literacy rates close to 90 percent?]. No, the truth is that reading, writing, and arithmetic only take about 100 hours [italics added] to transmit as long as the audience is eager and willing to learn. . . . Millions of people teach themselves these things. It really isn't very hard. . ."

To be conservative, let's assume that because you're not an experienced teacher it takes you three hundred hours to teach your child these skills with the help of learn-to-read phonics workbooks and computer software. Three hundred hours, divided by the average six-hour public school day, comes out to fifty school days, which is about ten weeks or three months.

Let me emphasize this point - it could take you, or a tutor you pay, as little as three months to teach your child to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. Again, to be even more conservative, most children could learn these skills in one year if you (or a tutor) concentrated your instruction on these basics. Public schools take eight to twelve years of children's lives, yet they turn out millions of high-school graduates who can barely read their own diploma or multiply 12 x15 without a calculator.

David Colfax and his wife Micki were public-school teachers turned ranchers who taught their four sons at home in the 1970s and 1980s, and three of their sons eventually went to Harvard. They co-authored a book titled Homeschooling For Excellence, which describes their home-schooling experience. In their book, they compared the time a child wastes in public school to the time average home-schooling parents need to teach their children the basics. Here's what they wrote:

"The numbers are straightforward and irrefutable. The child who attends public school typically spends approximately 1100 hours a year there, but only twenty percent of these-220-are spent, as the educators say, 'on task.' Nearly 900 hours, or eighty percent, are squandered on what are essentially organizational matters."

"In contrast, the homeschooled child who spends only two hours per day, seven days a week, year-round, on basics alone, logs over three times as many hours 'on task' in a given year than does his public school counterpart. Moreover, unlike the public school child, whose day is largely taken up by non-task activities, the homeschooled child has ample time left each day to take part in other activities - athletics, art, history, etc..."

So, according to the authors, if home-schooled children study for only two hours a day, year round, they will get three times more educational hours on academic basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic than public-school students get.

Not only does teaching your child the basics at home take far less time than you thought, but teaching these skills is even easier today because parents now have all the educational resources available to them that we've already noted. Also, bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders have whole sections full of books about teaching your child to read, write, and do basic math, as well as books that will interest and challenge young readers.

Once your children learn to read well, the whole world of learning opens to them. They can explore any subject that interests them, and read ever more difficult material by themselves in books or on the computer. For a small subscription fee, your children can study the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on the Internet. They can access almost every major library in the world through the Internet, including the Library of Congress. If your kids love to read and learn, the Internet provides unlimited resources.

Once your children read fluently, you can point them towards your local library or bookstore, supervise their studies, and see where their interests lie. Your job is to introduce your kids to as many different subjects and resources as possible. Have them take art classes at the local YMCA, library, or arts and crafts store. Introduce them to different kinds of music. See if they enjoy a music lesson on the piano, guitar, or drums. Give them classic novels by great authors to read.

Most home-schooling parents spend about three to four hours a day homeschooling their kids. The key point to remember is that you have many options and a vast amount of educational resource material available to help you homeschool your children and quickly teach them the basics. When you take advantage of this material, home-schooling can be fairly easy and take much less time than you think.

Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst, and author of "Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children."

Contact Information:
Phone: 718-447-7348.

Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel
NOTE: You may post this Article on another website only if you set up a hyperlink to Joel Turtel's email address and website URL,

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