Originally Posted by AllyRae
Still, how can you work on reading, writing, math, science, and social studies with only an hour a day? Do you only do 1 subject a day for one hour and call it a day? How on earth do you get through an entire year's worth of learning that way, especially since you don't appear to school the entire year?
Okay, to clarify about the "school year" thing. We do work on things year-round. I'm enrolled with a DL (Distributed Learning) program here in BC. My kids aren't, technically, considered to be homeschooled by the Province. However, the DL I'm with is very unschooling friendly, and focuses on child-led learning. I keep track of what we spend our time on (and it does have to be 25 hours a week), and submit weekly reports to a "Learning Consultant" (certified teacher) who puts them into what she calls "Ministry Speak" (the Ministry of Education) with respect to learning outcomes met, etc. My reports are generally long, because I'm wordy. However, they're also quite informal and chatty (stuff about dd1's questions while we're reading Little House, or about how ds2 coped with challenges with his friends, or how they liked the Body Worlds exhibit or whatever).
When I say that my "school year" is over, I mean that I don't have to log hours or submit any reports again until September. I'll make notes over the summer, and talk to the kids to begin preparing for writing up their Learning Plans for next year. And, we'll do lots of activities, work, etc. (dd1 was working on both math and spelling yesterday, actually, and we were at Science World for four hours on Wednesday). We just aren't formally schooling right now.
The average school probably works on EACH of those subjects for at LEAST 45 minutes a DAY. And what about the other subjects a state requires--foreign language, history (ancient, modern, US, and state), art (not crafts...fine art), music (not just beating on plastic drums...learning about the great composers), health/phys ed?
We don't require a foreign language yet (starts at...think it's grade four, but I'll have to check), but some comments about the other things you mention...
Fine arts: DD1 is in both ballet and piano. I don't count those when I'm talking about how many hours I homeschool. Aside from chauffeuring and paying, I'm not really involved. I lot dd1's piano practice (she practices daily, usually multiple times...but I don't count it as time I spend homeschooling - I'm often doing dishes or nursing dd2 or here on MDC while she plays). She's also just taken out a library book on post-impressionism, which is a new thing for her to be interested in. DS2 is a little shakier on the arts, but he did take some dance classes this year, and is asking about music lessons (can't decide if he wants to learn a horn or percussion, so I'm scouting out a general music class for him). He messes around a little on the piano and his harmonica, but doesn't have a strong interest yet.
History: My two "official" (ie. enrolled with the DL) homelearners have just finished grade two and kindergarten. History isn't actually a requirement, yet. Their social studies is more focused on the community level at this point. You know - what to police officers and firemen do, and where do they work, and what people fill what functions in the community. That, plus a bit of map work, is most of their social studies work, although we also have discussions about politics, the levels they operate on, how they work, etc. We've touched on ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, a little about WWII, and a few other things. This is all child-led (started asking about Greece after seeing The Lightning Thief, talked about WWII around Remembrance Day, etc.).
Health/phys ed: They walk, ride bikes, go to the playground, plus...this year, there was rock climbing, dance and ds2 is taking Tae Kwon Do. We'll be doing some other things next year...not sure what, but some options include ice skating, more swimming lessons (dd1 has a terror of putting her face in the water, so we've let that lapse, which is not okay with me, as we live on the coast, my stepdad owns a sailboat, etc.), and circus classes. We also have extensive discussions about nutrition, the role of rest/sleep, exercise, etc. in maintaining health.
Our state requires all of that in addition to what you've already listed. No way on this green earth it can be done in 5 hours a week. It takes longer than 5 hours a week to prepare to teach those. I do each of the subjects Ohio requires us to do, and it takes about 5-6 hours a day to get through them all. Are we talking about kids who will prepare for, read, and do the lessons with absolutely no help from the homeschooling parent? Because in many cases, a fully independent (but not unschooling) study homeschool is also not realistic, especially for children under high school age.
We're semi-unschooling, but not fully. We don't use much curriculum (a litlte for language arts, and a little for math) So...let's see:
Reading and writing. DD1 does either one page of spelling a day, or a full lesson (four pages) a week. There are several variables that affect that. She's constantly writing things, and checking her spelling, etc. She is behind on reading, but is catching up quick, now that she's reached a point where she's ready (she's advanced fully a grade level this year, after not even really taking off until about January or February). She does all this on her own, unless she needs help figuring something out. When we tackle a new concept or format, I'm briefly more involved, but then she just goes on her own. DS2 I don't even worry about. He's already reading at about a grade two level, and I'm not sure where he even learned a lot of it. He reads Boynton board books to his little sister, reads "We Both Read" books (love them!) with me, and happily does pages and pages of workbooks whenever the mood strikes. Neither of them spends a full hour on this each day, but if you factor in the time I spend reading to them, it comes out pretty close. (We're currently working through the Percy Jackson series, and the Little House series, and they get a chapter of each most nights.) My reading "counts", but I don't think of it as homeschooling time, either.
Math: Lots of discussions, which I don't really count as my homeschooling time. They happen at home, in the car, etc. The kids log a lot more math time than I do! I log our discussions, their play with manipulatives, etc. But, I mostly just let them mess around and keep my ears open. If they run into confusion or can't sort something out, I help out. DD1 is close to grade level now (I need to track more of the time they spend on non-number math, as I forget to report measurement, basic geometry, etc.), and ds2 is above grade level.
Science: This is almost totally free form around here. I have a few science kits, but we're about 99% child-led. DD1 is a serious expert on spiders. She understands phases of matter. She has a good grasp on how animals are clasified, with specific knowledge of multiple categories (she especially loves arachnids, insects, mammals, reptiles and birds). She understands basic astonomical ideas. She has an impressive understanding of human anatomy, with special focus on the immune system, circulatory system and skeleton. She's learning about light, colour and magnetism. DS2 is all about the dinosaurs right now, but also likes insects and space. This is all child driven, and from a combination of library books, DVDs (Magic School Bus, Eyewitness, etc.) and lots and lots of conversation. I consider the time I spend reading library books to/with them as time I spend homeschooling, but I don't consider the constant discussions to fit under that umbrella.
The kids spend a lot of time learning. I don't spend anywhere near as much time teaching. I've found that if I wait until they're ready, they mostly suck things up like little sponges. And, dd1 learns as much in her 10 minutes with a spelling book as ds1 was learning in an entire English class at the same age. I've had one foot in each world for the last three years, and the public school foot has been there for 13 (ds1 just graduated). The public school stuff involved a lot of wasted time - a whole lot. DS1 was reasonably self-motivated (until the last term, when he finally got tired of jumping stupid hoops), so he did okay...but there was a ton of wasted time. I really can't imagine what I'd spend 5-6 hours a day doing as a homeschooling parent.