One of the biggest things you learn when you begin homeschooling is that time spent with a book in front of you does not equal learning. You can spend all day at a desk and come away knowing as little as when you started.
As this article explains, the 10,000 hour rule made famous by author Malcolm Gladwell only works for certain domains. These domains have stable structures like classical music and chess. And even then, that 10,000 rule refers to deliberate practice which sitting at a desk passively is not.
If you want to learn more about deliberate practice, I recommend reading Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.
Focus on Education, Not Time
This concern with time is especially important for homeschoolers and unschoolers. When I recently wrote that we begin our school year on January, a reader expressed concern that it might throw off the date of graduation.
While it is normal to worry about this, especially in states where you are required to show a certain number of hours for “school,” I think the concern is unnecessary. It might even be misleading.
You do not need to worry about time spent in front of a textbook; you only need to think about if the lesson was learned. (This is another reason I don’t like using a box curriculum. Most boxed curricula come with schedules.)
Better yet to focus on the process that was undertaken to understand the lesson. SATs and ACTs – if your child is headed to college at all – focus not so much on the material, but on the ability to process information and glean meaning out of it.
Don’t worry about hours spent at a desk. Spend time in conversation. Choose to teach what matters to you.
Hours and minutes do not equal an education – the ability to learn does. As long as you have imparted the how of learning, you do not need to concern yourself with the what. And the how takes far less time than you would imagine.