Homeschooling and the Gift of Time

Back in 2007, while watching Meet the Robinsons with my family, I got choked up hearing “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas. Before I knew the actual title, I thought it was called “These Small Hours,” because it was all about time—how we spend it, how we look back on it, how our memories are made of it.

Our lives are made

In these small hours

These little wonders

These twists and turns of fate . . .

For many years, I took time for granted in our homeschooling. We were homeschoolers, we always had homeschooled, and I didn’t know any differently. But when two of my sons entered (and one later left) the public school system, I began to greatly appreciate the gift of time that homeschooling had provided to us. And time, as most of us in the modern world would agree, is precious—precious like gold or diamonds, to be treasured and protected.

Time in the morning and in the evening

This is an immediate, everyday way that homeschoolers receive the gift of time. When you homeschool, morning time and evening time belong to you and your family, not to a school bus schedule or a homework to-do list. Teenagers can sleep in, past the usual ultra-early required rising time of most high schoolers, at a time in their lives when they need sleep the most.

And, glory be—there is no homework. Ever. You might think that “no homework” would be a blessing to the kids alone, but you’d be wrong. It’s a tremendous blessing to parents and the whole rest of the family, as well. Perhaps there are some children who cheerfully and willingly tackle their homework each night, without arguments, without tears, without whole-family stress. I wouldn’t know. I do know that when I pulled my youngest out of school 3/4 of the way through fourth grade, the most wonderful, freeing thing about that decision (for both of us, I think) was never again having to deal with or even say the words “math homework” or “reading log.”

Also when you homeschool, school starts when it’s best for your family, and school ends when you’re done for the day. Sick days, snow days, beautiful weather days, fancy breakfast days, board game days, reading or crafting marathon days, lunch with Dad days … all of these are at your discretion.

Time for personal interests and hobbies

When you homeschool, you’re going to (or you should) spend less time on school each day than the 7+ hours that most families are used to. So if your kids had more hours every day to spend as they pleased, what would they choose to do? (I’m assuming here that you’ve already set time limits on devices, because nobody wants their kids on screens as much as the kids would like to be on screens.)

Here’s a partial list of how my kids used their “extra” hours through the years: drawing • making up board games • playing in water or sand • playing piano • reading for fun • acting out stories and playing make-believe (a lot) • practicing a sport • doing origami • sewing felt people • crocheting • cooking and baking • puppet shows • playdough • paint-by-number and other painting • blowing bubbles outdoors • building or fixing things • chalk on the driveway • biking and rollerblading • playing in the rain or snow • playing with or helping younger siblings • writing stories • building forts inside or outside • learning calligraphy • making obstacle courses • doing magic tricks • building with LEGOs or blocks—all in the “extra” time they had outside of their studies.

This extra time—many hours each day—is an immeasurable gift. When I pulled my youngest out of school, he suddenly had time for special interests and hobbies that were very meaningful to him, but he had been too exhausted after school to pursue them as much as he’d like, in the short time he had available.

Time for family, on your own schedule

Not being tied to the school schedule means you can do things when you want to: field trips, day trips, staycations, and off-season vacations (travel is cheaper in late summer after schools are back in session). Weekday excursions have the added bonus of fewer crowds. Imagine it—the zoo, on a gorgeous spring or fall day, not crowded. This is homeschooling bliss.

The gift of time also means more time together. Yes, that can be for better or for worse, but mostly it’s for better. More time with siblings and more time with Mom and Dad, including hours and hours of read-alouds at lunchtime and bedtime.

In our family, it also meant quiet time (my friend called this BOB time—Books On Bed), which was 30 minutes or an hour in the afternoon in separate rooms, reading or doing a quiet activity. Mommy needed this time each day, as you can imagine. It was good for the kids, too.

Time for friend groups of all kinds, including for Mom

In every stage of homeschooling, if you live anywhere near other homeschoolers (and most people do now), you’ll find support and friendship for both you and your kids. Co-ops, learning groups, park date groups, mom groups, church groups, and more help you and your kids form friendships that can last a lifetime.

Homeschooling is no longer considered “weird,” but it’s still unusual enough that when you find other homeschoolers, you immediately feel that you belong more or less to the same tribe. These relationships rest on the solid foundation of educational and lifestyle choices that often form an instant bond between both kids and adults. I found many friends just by sitting and waiting for my kids to take classes or attend clubs, at playgrounds, on hikes, at co-ops, or other places where homeschool moms gather to let their kids run around or learn together.

Full disclosure: The kind of time you may not have a lot of

It’s true that you won’t have as much time to yourself as you would if your kids were in school for 35+ hours per week. You will gain lots of time, in lots of new ways, but it won’t be entirely your own. I always considered this a pretty good trade for being at home with my kids, which is a privilege not everyone has, and I am incredibly grateful for every moment of it.

The small hours spent with your children, day after day, year after year, add up to time well spent. Time that can be treasured and protected like gold or diamonds. Time that was given to you as a gift through homeschooling.

Time falls away

But these small hours

These small hours

Still remain

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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