4. Am I spending too much time at Drive-Thrus?

When I am spending too much time serving my kids fast food, it's generally because I have planned too many out-of-the-home activities in my day. Developing a healthy diet is vitally important to emotional and academic success.
 5. Are my children minding less? Has the discipline increased?

It is very hard and nearly impossible for children to reason through obedience when they are tired or too exhausted to sort out their thoughts correctly. Keep in mind that their frontal lobe, which is responsible for their attention span and reasoning skills, is not fully developed until age 25, and they just aren't as quick as us at "getting it," especially when they are overwhelmed and tired. Your children also need consistent character and discipline training, and too many social events will thwart what you have worked so hard to accomplish.

I realize some moms are very gifted in combining teaching at home with everything else, and can spend hours upon hours in textbooks and schooling while maintaining their house, cooking elaborate meals, volunteering at church, and never missing a homeschool support meeting, class, or park day. However, for most moms, this is just not the case. I know it's not the case for me, and maybe not for you! But I have some great news for moms like us: homeschooling is still the best way to educate and train up your children, even if you are not so gifted at doing everything at once.

I think we all realize that too many out-of-the-home activities can create stress and ultimately cause a sense of failure, but so too can a rigorous in-home schedule. For most of us, our own public school experience has left us with the feeling that we must match the six hours a day of instruction the public schools supposedly do in our own homes. The following findings on how much time a public school student spends in instruction might just surprise you:

  • During the average 45-minute class period, a teacher spends 15 minutes filling out paperwork, 15 minutes handling disciplinary problems, and only 15 minutes presenting a topic. The latter 15 minutes of instruction is usually in front of a class of 20 or more students, leaving very likely little to no one-on-one time between a teacher and student.
  • A study of the school week in the United States found that some schools provided students [in group format] only 17 hours of academic instruction during the week, and the average school provided about 22.
  • Another survey analyzed the typical high school calendar and found that, after subtracting time for holidays, professional development days, early dismissal and parent conferences, field trips, assemblies, concerts and award presentations, and state and district testing, approximately 13 to 18 six-hour days remain per subject in the typical school year.

If we consider the above findings and still allow more credit to the public schools than is due, the average time a child spends one-to-one with a teacher in a classroom is at best five to ten minutes per day. Group instruction varies from 35 minutes to two hours per day. If you think you need to match the public school system, this is the time you can expect to invest--not the six hours per day one would think. I realize now why homeschoolers excel academically. Most homeschool parents can easily see to it that their children get more instruction time than this. Add to this the benefits that homeschooling creates--love, Christian values, character training, and stability--and you have even more value in each minute.

Some families are not aware of the actual time public schools spend in instruction, and subsequently jump into a six-hour (or more if they want to be better) method of schooling at home. For most moms, this is a plan that won't survive the long haul. I had a conversation with a mom recently whose homeschool method is responsible for their title of "ex-homeschooler." This mom shared with me that she could not teach her children any longer. She only got aggravated and "yelled at her children all day." Our conversation turned to focus on their homeschool schedule. This mom shared with me how she had spent the last year homeschooling. No wonder she quit. Her method would lead to failure for 80% or more of the homeschooling moms out there. It was far too rigorous for her and for her young children. I tried to persuade her to try a different method, one that allowed a little more freedom, but she could not come to grips with schooling any other way than the perceived public school way, so she quit homeschooling. I couldn't help thinking that this was such a sad and unnecessary ending.