Time Management Principles, Part 2
Read Part 1
No one needs to tell a teaching parent how crucial time management is to his success. That is why the first three principles--regulate, integrate, and rotate--in the first part of this article (last issue) are basically time-savers, ideas intended to help you run both a school and a household smoothly at the same time.
Yet in the quest for the best use of time, be wary of pragmatism--the educational philosophy which, in this case, would dictate you use any means available to save time. Such thinking would permit you to abandon your responsibility to your children by letting a videocassette recorder do all the teaching. Certainly the VCR is a useful educational tool; various skills in a wide range of topics can be successfully learned through the repeated observation which the VCR provides. And it does free you up to do other necessary tasks during the instruction time. But if using the VCR becomes your sole method of instruction, you violate a principle higher than those of time management, namely, that the teacher is the key to a child's understanding. Your intimate knowledge of your students, your comprehension of the material, your flexibility of approach, and your adjustment of evaluation are all to no avail if your influence in the learning process is reduced to "fast forward" and "rewind." Total video home education--even if it is not secular--takes away the most basic reason for home schooling: to control your child's education yourself.
The next two principles--delegate and emulate--deal with "management" in the sense of "control." They are not primarily time-savers but rather elements that make your school efficient and effective.
Probably the most frightening aspect of home education is realizing that you cannot teach everything your children need to know. But remember: Home schooling doesn't demand that you do all the teaching; rather, it requires that you control all the teaching. You can enlist the help of people both inside and outside the family.
Within the family, you can have the younger children hold the math flash cards for the older ones or carry out any number of duties that simply require helping hands. The older children can tutor the younger ones to some extent. Both older and younger children can help grade one another's papers by simply following the answer key. And grandparents, if regularly available, can help in almost any area, including teaching, supervising, and babysitting.
There is even more help available outside the family. Neighbors and friends can show slides of places they have been, in lieu of expensive field trips. Members of your church your home school support group can teach specialty areas (music lessons, language study, sewing). Art galleries and libraries often hold tours or classes. There are probably several mini-schools in your community to teach driver training, woodworking, or typing. Area businesses often hold free one-day seminars, covering such diverse subjects as microwave cooking and flower arranging. Your local YMCA/YWCA has sports programs all year long, making available all the necessary athletic equipment for a variety of physical education classes. Even the federal government can provide you with educational programs and literature that are free for the asking.
An educational source which you perhaps have never considered as such is the nursing home or convalescent center. Besides being a ministry for your family, visiting senior citizens can also give your children the opportunity to hear some colorful history lessons--first-hand accounts of the world wars or of the Depression.
As unique as the home school is, it still bears the title school, and it should therefore bear some resemblance to a conventional school. Doing what conventional schools do is not "copying" or "imitating"--both of those terms imply that the second version is not quite so good as the original. To emulate, however, means to equal or excel. There are at least two areas in which home educators should emulate the conventional school.
One area is record keeping. Points, scores, and grades should have the same value to you as they have to the conventional school. They were not intended to humiliate your child but rather to track his progress. You show your desire for your child's educational growth by giving tests and quizzes at regular intervals and by documenting performance.
The other area is professionalism. Good teachers are serious about their work, and they manifest this attitude by their neatness, organization, love of the subject matter, and love for the students. As a teaching parent, you must have the same attitude--and so much the more because your students are your own flesh and blood. Your commitment to excellence helps your child "stick it out" when the teaching becomes demanding; it urges him to do his best even without the perhaps once-familiar classroom surroundings; it causes state authorities to regard your convictions seriously; and most of all, your commitment to excellence pleases God. He wants the best for your children even more than you do.
The wisest man in the world, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that there was a time appointed for every necessary activity in our lives. That truth applies even to home education, the most time-consuming activity that a parent could undertake. By applying these general principles to the fullest extent that your individual schedule allows, home schooling can be the rewarding experience--for you and your child--that you want it to be.