There are some things about homeschool laws that I just don’t get. Keeping track of homeschool days or hours is one of them. I live in a state that requires us to homeschool for 180 days a year and to somehow document it.
What is the point?
Do they think our kids will ever be absent? They’re homeschooled- they’re always “in school”!
Since the end of the year is upon us and evaluation time is looming, I’m going to vent a bit about…
3 Reasons Why Keeping Track of Homeschool Days Is Pointless
1. Kids learn everyday, not just “during school.”
Sorry to expose the elephant in the room, but there it is. I realize that the laws were written with the public education method of schooling in mind, but this really makes no sense in a home learning environment. There is no on/off switch when it comes to learning. It happens all day long, everyday, no matter where the child may be.
In our family, living and learning do not happen separately, so the idea of some days meriting the label of “school days” while others do not is a little ridiculous to me.
2. It can make you much more
neurotic rigid about staying on schedule.
When I started homeschooling, I started out keeping not only a calendar to mark off our homeschool days, but I kept a numbered daily log of activities, as well.
It was terrible. The visual reminder of where we were in our homeschool year made me absolutely nuts about staying “on schedule,” so if the kids got sick or life happened and we couldn’t do school, Saturday (and sometimes even Sunday) school, it was! If we had to do school until it got dark, so be it, as long as we were where we needed to be in my lesson plan book. It was like I was in a race, and I had to be in first place. It was nuts.
3. It makes it too easy to slack off after the 180th day is checked off.
I don’t know about other people, but checking off that last day was like a permission slip to become a lazy mom. What made it even worse our first year was that, after being overzealous about staying on schedule, I came upon some books that wrote about how playing is learning (which it is), so I started counting our non-homeschool days as school days if my kids did anything I found to be worthy of the distinction of being “educational.”
Because of all these factors, our first homeschool year ended in mid-April. Since I was still under the impression that homeschoolers needed to start the new year when the school district does, that left us with an almost five month summer vacation.
Normally, that would be okay because, again, learning can happen all the time. Unfortunately, though, since I was so relieved about that first, crazy homeschool year ending, I got lackadaisical about providing stimulating activities for my kids because, in my thinking at the time, I was just like, The school year is over. My work is done.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our work is never done!
So, it may not surprise you when I say that I no longer keep track of our homeschool days.
I found that I’m a better homeschool mom when I don’t. Homeschooling isn’t a part of life for our family. It’s a way of life. It encompasses everything we do each and everyday.
Do I have an idea of where we are in our year? Sure. I structure our year round schedule to come out to exactly 36 weeks before we take our 6 week summer break. Do we do school each and every day that I planned to? Nope. But that’s okay, because there are plenty of days we “have off” of school and do “educational” activities anyway.
It’s all about balance.
We’re coming up to the end of our 8th homeschooling year. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered, it’s that the further we deviate from how schools do things, the more readily learning happens. That goes for seemingly trivial things like this too, because sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact.
I know some of you are wondering how I manage to document our 180 days if it’s not all written on a calendar somewhere. Simple. I put a statement in writing that I homeschooled for 180 days. (As a backup plan, I have a year’s worth of lessons written out. Each time we complete a day, I cross it out.)
Is it the truth? Yes. In fact, I could say that we homeschooled for far, far more days than that.
Why? Because learning isn’t based on a calendar made of red tape. It happens in spite of it.