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Reefgazer

UPDATE (POST 1).......OMG! Please Tell Me This Is Typical And It Gets Better

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I'm really struggling with this issue right now.  I just want to ask: why we do this to our kids?  We are homeschoolers.  No one is checking our rigor.  If a kid is clearly overworking, why do we allow it?  Why do we encourage it? Is it teaching our children a work ethic and efficiency?  Or is it teaching our kids to sacrifice both physical and mental health for academic productivity?  Clearly there is a balance to be found, but how do we find it?  Are we over reaching the goal in our desire to compete?

 

I think part of it could be the inability to differentiate from a crowd. I think it could be herd instinct of some sort. You see the people around you doing it or you see a certain type of student doing it and you want to be that student or if you are a parent, you want your child to be that student. Or maybe it's a family expectation. Or maybe you are naturally the type to overwork. Maybe you need exhaustion to feel productive? I don't know the answer either.

 

We have no desire to compete. And I don't encourage behavior that leads to over-exhaustion. And why I've stepped in a few times and clearly said No to him. But the older he gets, the more strongly he objects. And sometimes I think, you know, I've worked so hard to get out of his way, why don't I try it and see what happens? Why don't I let him see what happens when he overworks? Let him take the risk. After all it's his life. The funny thing is it is hard for 2-3 weeks and then bam, there is a growth spurt of some kind and he has stretched enough so that it isn't overworking any more. So what do I say? That you can't stretch? That you cannot test your boundaries? I do know though that what he's doing is nothing like what the kids in the Palo Alto high schools do. He still sleeps for 9-10 hours a night. He doesn't rely on energy boosters or coffee. He still has time to unwind and re-watch an episode or two of Star Trek at least 3-4x a week and read for pleasure. he can cuddle with the dogs and go to the gym 2x a week (ideally he should go more often but I'll take what I get). Those things that are so important to him, he hasn't had to sacrifice them despite the load he is taking on this fall (fall is usually our lighter semester but this year, things have gone a bit crazy).

 

Sometimes I still put my foot down and say nope. We are not doing it. You can pout and roll your eyes. It's just too bad and you have to live with it. And he realizes a little later that mom was right (Mom is always right, don't you know that by now, kiddo?). I know his limit.

 

What we do struggle with is our own high standards. It's a sort of sabotage almost and the scary thing is we are often not aware of how much the perfectionism is sabotaging us. All of us in our home are workaholics. We are happiest when we are working. I think it's important to our mental health. But we need balance. I don't know the secret to perfect balance but I think we have enough that we are not at each other's throats every day or groggy from lack of sleep. We still wake up and greet a new day with a bounce in our step and hugs for each other. We still laugh a lot.

 

It helps if the stuff that keeps you so busy is stuff you love to do. Just don't over do it. The over do...the point where it becomes too much. Knowing that is so important. Knowing and responding to it and being brave enough to stop even if other competitive students are doing more, that yes, you might be at a disadvantage professionally or academically if you do less but health is still more important...taking that risk knowing you might not come out tops in the short term. Now that is something not everyone can do.

 

I took regentrude's advice to heart when she used to describe her approach of consistency over the long term. So far, that's working out great for us. But I have to work with teenage temperament/ being stubborn and allow him to make his own mistakes too.

 

Still balancing, fine-tuning...

 

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I have the opposite problem, Quark.  My ds sees how many more hours all the other high achievers he knows are putting in and it makes him feel lazy.  He does not want to work harder, but needs me to tell him that it really is ok to take breaks.  But then I wonder if he is doing enough to prepare for going to an elite university.  Not enough from the point of view of getting in, but from the point of view of hours and struggle and time management etc.  Should I push him harder so he is better prepared?  I keep reading about kids on this board with crazy schedules, and my ds works 9:15-4 with 30 minutes for lunch and this includes his math olympiad stuff.  No nights. No weekends.  He does read the economist and literature at night which I count for credit, and he has 8 hours of sports and 4 hours of violin lessons sprinkled around.  But compared to what people are saying here, ds is right, he is just not putting in the same hours.  

Edited by lewelma
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I guess that what is driving the overload at our house is that dd has 3 subjects she wants to do - English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts.  Plus two major electives - drama and horseback riding.  Then there are the 4 subjects I'm requiring for college prep purposes - Math, Science, History, Foreign Language.  Believe me, if I thought we could drop some of those I'd do it.  The only way I can see that working is if we committed to doing the CC and planned on doubling up on those topics her later years, or just skipping them and letting her do an AA.  That is starting to look more appealing . . . Though we won't stop doing math or Spanish, don't want to lose ground on those skill subjects. But dd would love to drop history and/or science and focus on her passion subjects. Would that be insane?

 

I think you need to be more creative in counting the hours. 

 

For example: ds will read the Economist cover to cover for 4 years.  This plus discussion, a couple of lecture series, and a few papers will give him enough hours for two credits, one in Current Events and one in Economics. These are hours he is already doing for pleasure, but now I'm counting them.

 

For foreign language, I'm counting the mandarin he did from 5th to 8th grade as 1.5 high school credits, so three more 0.5 credits will give him 3 full credits, which is enough.  Three years of half courses is very different than 4 years of full courses.

 

Given how hard she is working, there have to be credits in there. 

Edited by lewelma
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Deleted TMI version, Ruth. Short version: I was thinking maybe your DS doesn't need to put in those hours because he works more efficiently. Sounds like he does more than DS does! :laugh:

Edited by quark
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I guess that what is driving the overload at our house is that dd has 3 subjects she wants to do - English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts.  Plus two major electives - drama and horseback riding.  Then there are the 4 subjects I'm requiring for college prep purposes - Math, Science, History, Foreign Language.  Believe me, if I thought we could drop some of those I'd do it.  The only way I can see that working is if we committed to doing the CC and planned on doubling up on those topics her later years, or just skipping them and letting her do an AA.  That is starting to look more appealing . . . Though we won't stop doing math or Spanish, don't want to lose ground on those skill subjects. But dd would love to drop history and/or science and focus on her passion subjects. Would that be insane?

 

If you are thinking UC, only 2 lab sciences and 2 history are required. If that makes you worry, some humanities classes at CC, even if not a-g approved are history rich and will usually be transferable (e.g. kiddo was considering History of Jazz at one point, combining some US history with his love of music). They are CC classes and even if not on a-g, they show that she challenged herself. Then take as many theater and english courses as she wishes. The sheer quantity and quality will very likely show her passion and level of rigor. If she is not majoring in science/ history, it seems unlikely that UC (especially the "holistic" campuses like UCB and UCLA) are going to penalize her for not taking 4 years of each.

 

 

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Could you let the math take 1.5 or 2 years since it covers both Alg 2 and the end of Geometry?  With that many extracurricular hours it is hard to imagine it getting much better.  Maybe she needs to decide what she can cut out and what needs to stay. We all only have a certain number of hours and may of us cannot do everything we with we could.

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I'm really struggling with this issue right now.  I just want to ask: why we do this to our kids?  We are homeschoolers.  No one is checking our rigor.  If a kid is clearly overworking, why do we allow it?  Why do we encourage it? Is it teaching our children a work ethic and efficiency?  Or is it teaching our kids to sacrifice both physical and mental health for academic productivity?  Clearly there is a balance to be found, but how do we find it?  Are we over reaching the goal in our desire to compete?

 

This is a exactly the point I came to by the end of last year (10th grade). I was frustrated with myself, because I had lost all the reasons we were homeschooling in the first place, in pursuit of "rigor". I realized I was using what other kids here on the forum were doing as my guide for what we should be doing, instead of remembering to teach the kid in front of me. I started looking around at what my friends' homeschooled high school kids were doing, and no one else's kid was working so much and having so little free time as my dd. Yet, these are people who have their kids go on and get into decent colleges they want to go to. They just don't kill themselves over it. By the end of last year, I felt like I was the one who had messed up and had lost perspective on our goals. I recalibrated, and so far this year, it's so much better. I wish it hadn't taken me two years, but I'm grateful to have realized my mistake and hope her last two years of high school can make up for her first two.
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 I realized I was using what other kids here on the forum were doing as my guide for what we should be doing, instead of remembering to teach the kid in front of me. 

 

Seriously.  This board is wonderful and dangerous at the same time. It gives me so many ideas but also causes me to second guess myself. My younger is 2E and finishing 7th grade in December. 8th grade here is high school, so I'm really trying to understand what I should expect, what he should reach for, and how I am going to get him there. It's going to be very tricky to navigate these waters.  

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This is a good question.  For me, I think I do this because I want DD to have it all (if she wants it).  I want her to have access to a top college if that is what she wants, and that means a rigorous course load.  She isn't going to have a prayer at that if she does 1/2 a credit of history and a half credit of math per year.  I want her to be strong and healthy, so I encourage her to swim with a team (it's 2 hours out of her day).  I want her to have the social experiences she enjoys, so I let her join whatever cockamamie thing she comes up with - Girl Scouts, camping, youth group, whatever.  She loves horses and wants to work  with them for her career, so I facilitate that and wouldn't dream of ripping that rug out from under her.  Not to mention, I thought there was a rule that a legitimate credit was between 120-180 hours a school year, and I feel obligated to meet that standard.  

 

Like I said somewhere else in this thread, I feel this constant tension between a rigorous academic load and letting her chase down her extracurricular interests.  Her swim coach eyeballed her suspiciously tonight and asked if she had been getting 8 hours of sleep a night.  She just laughed at him.  I wish I had the moxie to be an unschooler; it seems the answer would be so much clearer that way. 

 

ETA:  It's 1 AM and I had to push the kid off to bed (she needs to get up tomorrow at 7:30 Am to go camping with the scouts.  I had to order her to bed twice before she finally got her keister up the stairs.  It's this way every night.

I'm really struggling with this issue right now.  I just want to ask: why we do this to our kids?  We are homeschoolers.  No one is checking our rigor.  If a kid is clearly overworking, why do we allow it?  Why do we encourage it? Is it teaching our children a work ethic and efficiency?  Or is it teaching our kids to sacrifice both physical and mental health for academic productivity?  Clearly there is a balance to be found, but how do we find it?  Are we over reaching the goal in our desire to compete?

 

I definitely have more questions than I do answers.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Edited by reefgazer
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I asked her to consider this, but she doesn't want to exercise that option right now.  I think it would be ok.  We are easing up a bit on Latin though, so that what I planned to be 1 credit this year will take a bit longer and be at a slower pace.

Could you let the math take 1.5 or 2 years since it covers both Alg 2 and the end of Geometry?  With that many extracurricular hours it is hard to imagine it getting much better.  Maybe she needs to decide what she can cut out and what needs to stay. We all only have a certain number of hours and may of us cannot do everything we with we could.

 

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I wish I had the moxie to be an unschooler; it seems the answer would be so much clearer that way. 

 

It all still depends on the student. I don't call ourselves pure or radical unschoolers but as a family that is highly child-led and kind of unschooly that way, it is still very exhausting to keep up with what he wants. What he wants requires the 4+4+4+4+4 formula. So even if he is pulling us along for the ride, there are things he has to fulfill if he wants to reach that dream. We could try to just have him focus on the "spiky" part and hope everything else falls into place but I think we might not be working in his best interests if we threw all caution to the wind that way.

 

There are unschoolers who do that and maybe it works out for some and not for others. But I don't think there are any clear guarantees for any subset of homeschoolers. I do wish there was a formula. But homeschooling is all gooey and smooshy and messy. And while we don't replicate what public schoolers do, the universities still have requirements to fulfill. I think that's the main criteria tying our hands (mine at least).

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Not to mention, I thought there was a rule that a legitimate credit was between 120-180 hours a school year, and I feel obligated to meet that standard.

 

Like I said somewhere else in this thread, I feel this constant tension between a rigorous academic load and letting her chase down her extracurricular interests. I wish I had the moxie to be an unschooler; it seems the answer would be so much clearer that way.

I agree with the credit requirements, I just think it's worth assessing if a kid is doing much more than that. My dd was doing far above that for a couple classes that aren't even in her areas of interest. That's what was a big mistake. 180 hours is an hour per weekday, for 36 weeks, so I'm

trying to keep that as our guideline now. I knew there were lots of other kids here working 10-15 hours a week on certain classes, so I figured it was normal. It was too much for this particular dc, though.

 

As far as the unschooling, there's no reason it has to be all one way or the other. You might choose one subject a year for her to unschool, though I can't recall her subject list well enough to suggest one that would lend itself to that.

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Well, we've been brainstorming here, and I could still keep it within the credit hour recommendations and go a little lower - say closer to the 120 hour end rather than the 180 hour end.  She is doing more than 180 hours a week in biology and math.  math because she works slowly at it, biology because the material is heavy, and labs and the occasional lab report take more than 1 hour/day over the course of the week.  Languages and math just take time and neither one of us is crazy about doing less than a math lesson a day, although I reserve that as an option when we revisit this in a month or so.  I might consider easing up on writing and having her unschool history.  She likes history and would do well with that, but she still has to have time to pick up a book/research/write, etc...

I agree with the credit requirements, I just think it's worth assessing if a kid is doing much more than that. My dd was doing far above that for a couple classes that aren't even in her areas of interest. That's what was a big mistake. 180 hours is an hour per weekday, for 36 weeks, so I'm
trying to keep that as our guideline now. I knew there were lots of other kids here working 10-15 hours a week on certain classes, so I figured it was normal. It was too much for this particular dc, though.

As far as the unschooling, there's no reason it has to be all one way or the other. You might choose one subject a year for her to unschool, though I can't recall her subject list well enough to suggest one that would lend itself to that.

 

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If you are thinking UC, only 2 lab sciences and 2 history are required. If that makes you worry, some humanities classes at CC, even if not a-g approved are history rich and will usually be transferable (e.g. kiddo was considering History of Jazz at one point, combining some US history with his love of music). They are CC classes and even if not on a-g, they show that she challenged herself. Then take as many theater and english courses as she wishes. The sheer quantity and quality will very likely show her passion and level of rigor. If she is not majoring in science/ history, it seems unlikely that UC (especially the "holistic" campuses like UCB and UCLA) are going to penalize her for not taking 4 years of each.

 

Yes, this is starting to look significantly more appealing - the idea that we aren't trying to package up a perfect high-school-at-home candidate, we are trying to educate a specialist - and that's the reality, whether I'm ready for that or not - and show passion, dedication, and readiness for college-level work.  I think the CC will be our friend, particularly for the latter (it's a good one).  We've started tossing around the idea of easing up on history and science - not stopping, but maybe going half-pace and covering the material over two years.  She'll be fine for social science, because 2 years of history plus Psychology or something like that, covered over the course of 4 years, is totally doable. And she'll be fine for science, because a two-year biology class can be capped off with minimally one or potentially more science w/ lab classes at the CC, which would fulfill the minimum requirements for any program she wants to get into.  I'm inspired by Nan in Mass's two year Natural History class she did with her sons, who followed up with science classes at the CC.  That could totally work for us.

 

We can also go more slowly in Spanish, frankly, because the plan with that is to cap it off with a CC class at the appropriate level at some point, which would fulfill most college's FL requirements.

 

This is starting to look a little more doable. Which is good, because November(NaNoWriMo) is coming up, and the new novel is now partially plotted, and the new show is in rehearsals!

 

Reefgazer, I sure hope you don't mind me piggybacking on your thread so much! It's been so timely and helpful for me, too.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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DD just started 9th grade, and she feels buried in work.  Setting aside the fact she has too many hours devoted to extracurricular activities, it seems she has no time left to just read a book for pleasure or draw at a leisurely pace.  Yes, she is taking a heavy academic load, but math takes a ridiculously long time (my God, she works s-l-o-w-l-y) and Latin really ramped up and is difficult this year, and we didn't expect those 2 subjects to require as much time as they have been.  I guess I'm just griping and hoping things will get better. 

Wow! I could have written this post. My dd just said last night that she can't wait for school to be out (we are on week 6!) so that she has time in her days again. For us, the TOG reading (which I confess we add to) and all her activities eat away her time, although math and Latin also take a lot of time this year. I hope it gets better for her.

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Which one does she use?

 

She uses the one on Google drive, as that is where she puts most of her work. If she needs to turn something in using Word (or such), she'll download from there. She did just use the one on the laptop, but said it wasn't very accurate.

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This has become a really interesting, and I think important thread discussion!  Thanks for starting it!  It also seems to be related to some other threads such as Halcyon's about her son and his IB program, so I don't think it is a purely homeschoolers' dilemma.

 

 

 

 

This is a good question.  For me, I think I do this because I want DD to have it all (if she wants it).  I want her to have access to a top college if that is what she wants, and that means a rigorous course load.  She isn't going to have a prayer at that if she does 1/2 a credit of history and a half credit of math per year.  I want her to be strong and healthy, so I encourage her to swim with a team (it's 2 hours out of her day).  I want her to have the social experiences she enjoys, so I let her join whatever cockamamie thing she comes up with - Girl Scouts, camping, youth group, whatever.  She loves horses and wants to work  with them for her career, so I facilitate that and wouldn't dream of ripping that rug out from under her.  Not to mention, I thought there was a rule that a legitimate credit was between 120-180 hours a school year, and I feel obligated to meet that standard.  

 

Like I said somewhere else in this thread, I feel this constant tension between a rigorous academic load and letting her chase down her extracurricular interests.  Her swim coach eyeballed her suspiciously tonight and asked if she had been getting 8 hours of sleep a night.  She just laughed at him.  I wish I had the moxie to be an unschooler; it seems the answer would be so much clearer that way. 

 

ETA:  It's 1 AM and I had to push the kid off to bed (she needs to get up tomorrow at 7:30 Am to go camping with the scouts.  I had to order her to bed twice before she finally got her keister up the stairs.  It's this way every night.

 

 

With regard to the bolded above: it would seem she is sleep deprived enough for something to show to her coach? Do you know what he observed?

 

To me a child laughing at a coach who asks about 8 hours of sleep is missing the most basic of knowledge about health and biology. To me, that type of information, knowledge, and action on that information and knowledge--not just theory about what a teen should be getting per night by way of sleep, should be placed way ahead of study of ancient history or Algebra 2.  

 

 

 

Not being or knowing elite college admissions officers, I cannot speak for elite college admissions, but to me it seems like doing Geometry this year, Algebra 2 next year (or, if a curriculum does both together, then taking it over 2 years), Pre-calc in 11th, and possibly calculus in 12 (depending on her aims), is plenty of math for most top colleges where I looked at current requirements. 2-3 total credits of social studies also seemed to be sufficient. 3 years of science, with 2 of them lab science. It does not have to be all 4 of the core academic subjects every year. And it certainly does not have to be a math load that gets to Calculus by junior year, especially for someone not aiming for something like Cal Tech or MIT. I did not look up Cal Tech and MIT, for all I know it is not even needed for them.

 

Friends of mine with kids who have recently had kids get into Harvard and Dartmouth did not have the kids do as rigorous a schedule as you (or indeed many of us!!!) feel you (we!!) must do for your dd (or our dc in general!!!) to have a prayer.

 

Though I expect if everyone starts being in Algebra 2, or precalculus or calculus in 9th, etc.,  then that will become the standard. But why do that?  Why go there?  Does that actually lead us to a better life, a better planet? I don't know. Maybe it does. To me it seems like it does not.

 

 

 

 

In any case, here's my bottom line: potentially sacrificing long term health for the sake of maybe being able to get into an elite college is not worth it.  An A.B., or M.D., or M.B.A. or similar degrees, from the most elite institutions imaginable will be of no use if too sick/disabled to manage.  Ask me how I know.

 

More than that, I think our whole society is over-driven in ways that are causing harm. Sleep deprived people make errors and cannot think well in many cases. It does not just affect airplane pilots.  Our society, and perhaps these boards in particular as a mini-society, seem to favor extremely driven work-loads, even to point of lack of sleep. But what then are we teaching our kids, since lack of sleep can be damaging to the person who lacks the sleep, or maybe to people who use the product that was manufactured by someone who lacked sleep, or is riding on the plane of the pilot who lacked sleep. To me it seems as potentially dangerous to get addicted to a lack of sufficient sleep lifestyle as to a drug.

 

 

 

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Just a thought on the co-op: could you continue to take your ds, and your dd could stay home during that time and get her work done?

 

This is what my sister does with a Senior, a 10th grader, and a 7-8th grader. She takes the youngest and leaves the oldest two home one of the two co-op days. (There are two because she teaches classes both days)

Edited by vonfirmath
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Post script: curious about scouts who go camping on a Friday. Wouldn't some of the kids have to be at school?

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DD just started 9th grade, and she feels buried in work.  Setting aside the fact she has too many hours devoted to extracurricular activities, it seems she has no time left to just read a book for pleasure or draw at a leisurely pace.  Yes, she is taking a heavy academic load, but math takes a ridiculously long time (my God, she works s-l-o-w-l-y) and Latin really ramped up and is difficult this year, and we didn't expect those 2 subjects to require as much time as they have been.  I guess I'm just griping and hoping things will get better. 

 

One thing that I've realized is that DD is not so good at transitions.  We do not start everything all at once; starting dates for classes are staggered here.  Doing the work for 3 classes in Week One winds up taking longer than the work for 6 classes in Week 8. 

 

Also, I have a continuing conversation with myself.  It goes like this, "CHILL."  I totally get the anxiety that you and others are feeling; I can start to feel totally overwhelmed with the responsibility of PREPARING MY CHILD FOR COLLEGE (read booming voice from the heavens here.)  I have been working very hard the last two years on reminding myself that I am helping my short person transform from a child into a healthy, happy adult -the school stuff is just a part.  So I have been squashing the box-checking part of me and embracing the flexibility.  When math is hard, then history is done orally, no written work required.  If we are over-scheduled, low priority stuff gets put off or chucked overboard.  So far this year has been working, but the truth is that it's only working because I failed so badly earlier.

 

:grouphug:  I hope things smooth out with time.

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Wow! I could have written this post. My dd just said last night that she can't wait for school to be out (we are on week 6!) so that she has time in her days again. For us, the TOG reading (which I confess we add to) and all her activities eat away her time, although math and Latin also take a lot of time this year. I hope it gets better for her.

 

We started high school in July and we were basically doing school work 7 days a week.  It took 3 weeks for me to pull the plug.  A rigorous schedule like that is just a huge recipe for massive burnout + hating everything to do with learning.  We went back to our regularly-scheduled program of relaxed homeschooling.  I guess we are lazy homeschoolers.   :001_unsure:  (My kids will be starting at community college, not Harvard.)  

 

We do daily:

 

Math

Foreign languages

Our one subject (we're only doing one subject at at time - which is Astronomy right now.  Hey, we found Saturn and Mars last night, though!)

 

I'm married to someone who grew up in a strict household where school and studying took up every waking hour (he's Asian).  It really didn't end well.  That's why I am so laid back with my kids.

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I feel for you, and her.  And if she is a slow worker, perhaps things will just take more time.  

 

HOWEVER, we started in August, and my son is smooth sailing now.  THe first week that all his online classes had started and the in-person classes, he was overwhelmed.  He was more overwhelmed with how to keep track of it all, than the time commitment but it definitely takes time.

 

One thing I see is that you are doubling up Science.  That may be unnecessary. 

 

Lastly, and I keep repeating this over and over with my son, is that he cannot do all the work during the weekdays. He MUST do some on Saturday and some on Sunday, and he must spread out the studying.  Otherwise, he will be burned out all week, and then have a carefree weekend but flip out all week.  He is currently doing about 3 hours of work on the weekend, and that is working pretty well.  

 

Hope that helps!

 

PS I wanted to add, that you should really drop whatever isn't necessary, if after a month in, she's still struggling this much.  

 

 

Edited by Calming Tea
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Not to mention, I thought there was a rule that a legitimate credit was between 120-180 hours a school year, and I feel obligated to meet that standard.

My neighbors in public and private high school are doing 120-180 hrs worth of work, They are not clocking in that many hours eventhough some may be. For example, their math/science/history teacher may give 2hrs worth of homework per week but if a kid work fast, that doesn't mean he/she doesn't earn that credit.

Those neighbors that graduated high school so far got it to many good universities so my complex actually has a few empty nesters now.

I just chased my grouchy bear back to bed after breakfast. Lack of sleep means I'll get substandard work from him anyway. He has five high school level classes out of which I can count two for credit before high school, I just counted slacker that I am.

 

:grouphug:

 

ETA:

My grouchy bear is now a laughing bear reading his books.

 

ETA:

A passion that is time consuming is going to be time consuming regardless of age/grade level. For example, a child in gymnastics competitions/rocketry/robotics/swim team/orchestra/etc is going to spend lots of time there.

It is going to be different from someone in heavy academics but lighter extracurriculars.

Edited by Arcadia
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To the OP --> Yeah, 9th grade kicked dd1's backside.  It wasn't as bad for dd2 (mainly because I was distracted with dd1s senior year and wasn't as on top of dd2 as I wanted to be! lol).  DD1s output slowed to a snails-pace and she never really recovered her old get-up-and-go after that. She was pokey all the way through her senior year.

 

She started out college like that, but -- I think she's learning that the system there isn't going to be very forgiving or accomodating, so I am seeing her become more efficient in her output as the weeks go by.

 

 

I'm really struggling with this issue right now.  I just want to ask: why we do this to our kids?  We are homeschoolers.  No one is checking our rigor.  If a kid is clearly overworking, why do we allow it?  Why do we encourage it? Is it teaching our children a work ethic and efficiency?  Or is it teaching our kids to sacrifice both physical and mental health for academic productivity?  Clearly there is a balance to be found, but how do we find it?  Are we over reaching the goal in our desire to compete?

 

I definitely have more questions than I do answers.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

In our case, I allowed it because I didn't want dd to be unprepared for the rigors of college life.

 

As it turns out, there STILL are elements of college life that are kicking her butt due to their unexpectedness (and our inability to really "recreate" the scenario here at home).

 

A "flaw" in my system was that - if dd was REALLY busy with non-school activities (she was a varsity athlete as well as involved in several extracurricular activities) - I would reduce her school load during that time. She would pick up the pace when things would slow down and cover the lost ground.

 

Well... in college... you don't get to do that. So she's had a rough week or two trying to balance it all. She's learning quickly though - and it's made me wonder if I should've let her "learn that lesson" while at home? Or if it's good that I gave her some breathing room  and let her learn it in college?

 

I dunno. I'm doing things differently for the next two (trying to eliminate any schoolwork that isn't absolutely essential) - but I'm often conflicted as to which things to change, and which to leave alone!
 

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One thing that I've realized is that DD is not so good at transitions.

This has been a problem here too, one which I was very slow to recognize. One huge help this year (8th for DS13, but with a big increase in workload) has been block scheduling. This has drastically reduced transition time in our days and lets him sink into each subject more. More time for work, less time lost to finishing up and getting started.

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I guess that what is driving the overload at our house is that dd has 3 subjects she wants to do - English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts.  Plus two major electives - drama and horseback riding.  Then there are the 4 subjects I'm requiring for college prep purposes - Math, Science, History, Foreign Language.  Believe me, if I thought we could drop some of those I'd do it.  The only way I can see that working is if we committed to doing the CC and planned on doubling up on those topics her later years, or just skipping them and letting her do an AA.  That is starting to look more appealing . . . Though we won't stop doing math or Spanish, don't want to lose ground on those skill subjects. But dd would love to drop history and/or science and focus on her passion subjects. Would that be insane?

 

 

Isn't Creative Writing a subsubject of English?  And Drama a sub-subject of Theater Arts?

 

 

I think you can drop some of your subjects in terms of not needing them every single year. What do the colleges she may want to go to require?  I think a cousin of mine just started UC Berkeley with 4 years of Language Arts, but only 3 years each of those other main subjects, and the rest interest driven electives. Not sure she even had a major extracurricular.

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I guess that what is driving the overload at our house is that dd has 3 subjects she wants to do - English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts.  Plus two major electives - drama and horseback riding.  Then there are the 4 subjects I'm requiring for college prep purposes - Math, Science, History, Foreign Language.  Believe me, if I thought we could drop some of those I'd do it.  The only way I can see that working is if we committed to doing the CC and planned on doubling up on those topics her later years, or just skipping them and letting her do an AA.  That is starting to look more appealing . . . Though we won't stop doing math or Spanish, don't want to lose ground on those skill subjects. But dd would love to drop history and/or science and focus on her passion subjects. Would that be insane?

 

I decided I wanted a minimum 3 science and 3 history for my kids (because most colleges around us list that as a minimum). So you might see what's standard in your area. If she's going to go to CC, you can even do 2 for some. I wanted my kids to minimally have US history, World history, and Government in high school (and we did .5 credit for government, so I let each choose an elective history. Oldest loves history, so he did a 4th year). For science, I wanted at least 2 labs but a third year could be a lighter one if she doesn't like science (my youngest is a science lover, so she did less history but 4 years of science).

 

Anyway...if you stagger history & science some, that at least gives you 2 years when you don't need to do one of those subjects--more time for electives. Also, you can do something "quick and dirty" for history/science--it doesn't have to be the deepest, most involved course if it's not her favorite subject.

 

For English, can you make Creative Writing part of her English credit? (So, maybe .5 for literature, and .5 for creative writing--or make it a full credit for creative writing and count that as her English credit for the year?)

 

As someone else mentioned, I also wondered if drama/theatre could be combined somehow into 1 credit. Although, I went to public high school and was always involved in theatre--so for those months in the fall and spring, that was 4 extra hours most nights at school for no credit. I know it's time-consuming!

 

Anyway...think it through, but I do wonder if you can juggle a bit to make it work better.

Edited by MerryAtHope
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Right, sure - creative writing could be part of English.  But the point is that she wants to spend a lot of time both studying and doing creative writing, and I want her to do academic writing too, and we both want to do a ton of lit.  So, right there, she will spend 300-400 hours a year on this.  She will. The goal isn't to limit the time in this area, it's her passion. The goal is to give her academic credit for the time she is spending on this stuff.  So by breaking it up into an English credit and a Creative Writing credit, she gets "credit" for the fact that she is spending multiple hours per day/week reading, writing, and studying literature.  The point is to have her credits give her credit for the time she spends in this area - her specialty area - and to create time in her schedule, via an official elective, for her to do creative writing.  Ditto with theater - she does acting as an elective, but she also wants to read and analyze plays and films and attend plays. So we have a Theater Arts credit - academic work in the area - as well as having the act of acting - drama - as an elective. 

 

Point being, I want to let her spend time on things that she is passionate about, give her academic credit for all the credit-worthy stuff she is doing, and make sure she has the time to pursue her passions, rather than filling her schedule with subjects she's less interested in.  So the point of having 3 English-y credits (English/Lit, Creative Writing, and Theater Arts) is that she actually spends 15+ hours a week on this stuff.  And then another 10+ hours a week on the drama elective when a play is in production.  She doesn't want to reduce this.  What we want to do is to reduce the other stuff - the check boxes, the must-dos, and also the things that are valuable to do for being a generally well-rounded and well-educated citizen.  Those things aren't unimportant, but they can't be allowed to crowd out the time and energy for the things that she really cares about.

 

Does this make sense?

 

ETA: I also understand from reading on this board that it isn't necessarily a good idea to turn everything into a credit, because you want some legitimate extracurriculars. So my logic is that by having both a Theater Arts credit, and Drama as an extracurricular, this is a demonstration of the passion/interest in the subject and that significant time is being spent on the extracurricular.  Truly, at this point she has spent as many hours on drama - her extracurricular - as she has on any of her for-credit subjects.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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I guess that what is driving the overload at our house is that dd has 3 subjects she wants to do - English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts.  Plus two major electives - drama and horseback riding.  Then there are the 4 subjects I'm requiring for college prep purposes - Math, Science, History, Foreign Language.  Believe me, if I thought we could drop some of those I'd do it.  The only way I can see that working is if we committed to doing the CC and planned on doubling up on those topics her later years, or just skipping them and letting her do an AA.  That is starting to look more appealing . . . Though we won't stop doing math or Spanish, don't want to lose ground on those skill subjects. But dd would love to drop history and/or science and focus on her passion subjects. Would that be insane?

 

Does she have to do a rigorous history or science?  How much time would the equivalent of the local HS's honor-track history and science take?  When I was in school I took both of these as IB classes and they did not take that long.  Math did take forever.

 

Part of HS, in my view, is learning how to get things done that you must get done without putting any more effort into them than absolutely necessary.

 

So I could pretty much ignore science all week (and do my math homework during science), then cram for the test during gym while I walked around the track (I took Lifetime Activities, which was largely walking and bowling).  It wasn't maybe the best thing for full understanding, but I didn't want to understand it fully - what I wanted was a 5 or higher on the IB test or a 4 or 5 on the AP so I could get college credit.  I was an English major - Bio was just box-checking.

 

I did the same for history.

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IB History, for example, consisted entirely of making flashcard/notecards (20 notecards every few weeks - took an hour total) and taking a written essay test at the end of every unit, then prepping for the big exam at the end of 12th.  It was Higher Level history, so a 6 or 7 got you 9 hours of credit at most public universities.  

 

The written essay test took me approx. 1 1/2 hours to prep for.  I also sat through classes, and listened/took notes probably half the time.  You could easily (easily!) cut that down to probably have the time we actually took in class.

 

I think sometimes homeschoolers, esp. those with globally advanced students, draw up courses that are more rigorous than what even the top level classes at most public schools offer.  In theory that IB History class was 10 hours a week of work - 5 hours in class and 5 hours of homework/reading.

 

In reality it was 5 in class (unavoidable) and maybe 2 outside.  But if my mom were running the class, I'd probably feel compelled to actually read the readings, study seriously for tests (which I got the top score on with a cram session anyway), and truly engage with the material.  It would take forever.

 

 

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Oh, it's obvious to me and everyone else that she is sleep deprived; she looks that tired. Part of it is that she is a light sleeper and part if up us that she doesn't sleep enough because she takes a *long* time to fall asleep - like a couple of hours at night - she's always been that way even as a baby.  But the majority of the problem is that she's over-extended. She knows she's tired and that that's not a good thing. She laughed not because she didn't know the importance of sleep; she laughed because she thought it was a given and a ridiculous question along the lines of "of course I'm tired". This problem was kind of the point of my whole thread - to try to get her more sleep and start cutting obligations where I can. But like I said, there's this constant tension between high school requirements and what she wants to do. I don't like that we feel the need to give up what she wants to do to fulfill requirements; I don't want her to turn into a little study-bot. OTOH, I am looking for a high school program that is more than "sufficient". I want one that will leave her options open for a well-regarded school, because at this point she has her eye on Cornell, and I don't want to close off that Avenue this early in her high school career.

I too am wary of getting on this calculus-and-four-years-of-a-lab-science-is-standard bandwagon, because it just escalates to more and more and more for future high school kids. I'm not sure how to stop it without denying her what she wants.

 

 

This has become a really interesting, and I think important thread discussion! Thanks for starting it! It also seems to be related to some other threads such as Halcyon's about her son and his IB program, so I don't think it is a purely homeschoolers' dilemma.




With regard to the bolded above: it would seem she is sleep deprived enough for something to show to her coach? Do you know what he observed?

To me a child laughing at a coach who asks about 8 hours of sleep is missing the most basic of knowledge about health and biology. To me, that type of information, knowledge, and action on that information and knowledge--not just theory about what a teen should be getting per night by way of sleep, should be placed way ahead of study of ancient history or Algebra 2.



Not being or knowing elite college admissions officers, I cannot speak for elite college admissions, but to me it seems like doing Geometry this year, Algebra 2 next year (or, if a curriculum does both together, then taking it over 2 years), Pre-calc in 11th, and possibly calculus in 12 (depending on her aims), is plenty of math for most top colleges where I looked at current requirements. 2-3 total credits of social studies also seemed to be sufficient. 3 years of science, with 2 of them lab science. It does not have to be all 4 of the core academic subjects every year. And it certainly does not have to be a math load that gets to Calculus by junior year, especially for someone not aiming for something like Cal Tech or MIT. I did not look up Cal Tech and MIT, for all I know it is not even needed for them.

Friends of mine with kids who have recently had kids get into Harvard and Dartmouth did not have the kids do as rigorous a schedule as you (or indeed many of us!!!) feel you (we!!) must do for your dd (or our dc in general!!!) to have a prayer.

Though I expect if everyone starts being in Algebra 2, or precalculus or calculus in 9th, etc., then that will become the standard. But why do that? Why go there? Does that actually lead us to a better life, a better planet? I don't know. Maybe it does. To me it seems like it does not.




In any case, here's my bottom line: potentially sacrificing long term health for the sake of maybe being able to get into an elite college is not worth it. An A.B., or M.D., or M.B.A. or similar degrees, from the most elite institutions imaginable will be of no use if too sick/disabled to manage. Ask me how I know.

More than that, I think our whole society is over-driven in ways that are causing harm. Sleep deprived people make errors and cannot think well in many cases. It does not just affect airplane pilots. Our society, and perhaps these boards in particular as a mini-society, seem to favor extremely driven work-loads, even to point of lack of sleep. But what then are we teaching our kids, since lack of sleep can be damaging to the person who lacks the sleep, or maybe to people who use the product that was manufactured by someone who lacked sleep, or is riding on the plane of the pilot who lacked sleep. To me it seems as potentially dangerous to get addicted to a lack of sufficient sleep lifestyle as to a drug.

Edited by reefgazer
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It's the troop at our homeschool co-op, so all the kids are homeschooled.

 

Post script: curious about scouts who go camping on a Friday. Wouldn't some of the kids have to be at school?

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Yeah, I need to chill, lol. I guess I'm really wound tight. :)

 

One thing that I've realized is that DD is not so good at transitions. We do not start everything all at once; starting dates for classes are staggered here. Doing the work for 3 classes in Week One winds up taking longer than the work for 6 classes in Week 8.

 

Also, I have a continuing conversation with myself. It goes like this, "CHILL." I totally get the anxiety that you and others are feeling; I can start to feel totally overwhelmed with the responsibility of PREPARING MY CHILD FOR COLLEGE (read booming voice from the heavens here.) I have been working very hard the last two years on reminding myself that I am helping my short person transform from a child into a healthy, happy adult -the school stuff is just a part. So I have been squashing the box-checking part of me and embracing the flexibility. When math is hard, then history is done orally, no written work required. If we are over-scheduled, low priority stuff gets put off or chucked overboard. So far this year has been working, but the truth is that it's only working because I failed so badly earlier.

 

:grouphug: I hope things smooth out with time.

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This is a stupid question, but how do I block schedule?

 

This has been a problem here too, one which I was very slow to recognize. One huge help this year (8th for DS13, but with a big increase in workload) has been block scheduling. This has drastically reduced transition time in our days and lets him sink into each subject more. More time for work, less time lost to finishing up and getting started.

Edited by reefgazer
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Yeah, I need to chill, lol. I guess I'm really wound tight. :)

 

 

I did not mean that to sound harsh, and I'm sorry.  Believe me, I am with you on the "wound tight" thing. I am constantly fighting myself.  What helps me is to step back and compare where we are to the average student at our local high school.  Really, there IS no comparison; DD is miles and miles ahead and that knowledge helps to contain my stress.  On these boards it is far too easy to lose track of where the bar of college-ready REALLY is.  No, it is not typical for a child to have completed calculus by the time he walks. AND all those wonderful credit-hour standards that we read about are theoretical.  The truth is, in a brick-and-mortar school, no one is keeping track of how much time the individual students are putting into classes; they're just making rough guesstimates for the class (and probably padding the numbers - heavily- too).  Also, the teacher will constantly make adjustments to the syllabus and add and drop things, if necessary. Hence, my personal mantra, "CHILL."  And if I remember to say it about 9 million times a day it even helps!

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There are different types of block scheduling:

 

• do one subject in full fall semester; switch to another subject spring semester

• split subjects into 'A' and 'B' days which alternate through the whole year

• select one subject to concentrate on while simultaneously working on the subjects that must be done every day (depends on student but I think of math and foreign language as daily)

• do subject X solely until all that coursework is covered and switch to subject Y, etc

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We do a lot of the first type of block scheduling. It helps dd manage her workload with the languages, keeps her engaged (she likes to drive deeply into subjects of interest), and creates fewer transitions during the day.

 

This year we're studying macroecon and us govt in the fall and microecon and astronomy in the spring (the first 3 are AP classes).

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But like I said, there's this constant tension between high school requirements and what she wants to do. I don't like that we feel the need to give up what she wants to do to fulfill requirements; I don't want her to turn into a little study-bot. OTOH, I am looking for a high school program that is more than "sufficient". I want one that will leave her options open for a well-regarded school, because at this point she has her eye on Cornell, and I don't want to close off that Avenue this early in her high school career.

Mine has an eye on Stanford because we go there so often for events. For them it is also a convenient answer when people ask.

Have your daughter done a four year plan? The 8th graders do their four year plan with the high school counselors in spring for public and private schools. Private high schools close the application window in Dec/Jan and then placement tests and planning begins.

My oldest has a how to meet UC a-g requirements in his head. He finds that calming knowing what he has to do. He has already thought about acceptance rate. He also takes a long time to sleep but the brushing technique for calming still works as long as his brain is exhausted.

I'll put a strong priority on sleep by having long talks with your daughter. I have been an insomniacs all my life. I had learn to compensate and still ace exams but there is a health toll to pay. My oldest is stubborn like me but he gets the message when I chase him back to bed. He napped from 630pm-730pm yesterday and felt lots better.

I know you said no academics in summer so this is just a suggestion. My nearby private u has a high school summer program for kids to do a lab classes equivalent to a high school credit at a discounted price. We intend to do chemistry (lab) and robotics (elective) there. It is my kids idea of fun but I know not all kids would think so.

 

ETA:

It does get better with maturity and improvement in executive function/time management skills. I'm seeing slow and steady improvement in my tomato stake kid.

Edited by Arcadia
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Oh, it's obvious to me and everyone else that she is sleep deprived; she looks that tired. Part of it is that she is a light sleeper and part if up us that she doesn't sleep enough because she takes a *long* time to fall asleep - like a couple of hours at night - she's always been that way even as a baby? But the majority of the problem is that she's over-extended. She knows she's tired and that that's not a good thing. She laughed not because she didn't know the importance of sleep; she laughed because she thought it was a given and a ridiculous question along the lines of "of course I'm tired". This problem was kind of the point of my whole thread - to try to get her more sleep and start cutting obligations where I can. But like I said, there's this constant tension between high school requirements and what she wants to do. I don't like that we feel the need to give up what she wants to do to fulfill requirements; I don't want her to turn into a little study-bot. OTOH, I am looking for a high school program that is more than "sufficient". I want one that will leave her options open for a well-regarded school, because at this point she has her eye on Cornell, and I don't want to close off that Avenue this early in her high school career.

 

I too am wary of getting on this calculus-and-four- years - of -a -lab -science -is 2standard bandwagon, because it just escalates to more and more and more for future high school kids. I'm not sure how to stop it without denying her what she wants.

 

 

I suggest: Check what Cornell both officially requires and also what it is considered to "actually" want--which may differ depending on whether you are in or out of NY, and whether she'd be applying to a specialty program they have.  Try to meet some recent grads or current students and figure out what the reality is there. 

I don't think it is the sort of school where anyone can expect to be a shoe-in, but it is also not, so far as I know, one of the ones where even kids with straight 800's on all SAT type tests, straight As, and excellent extracurriculars will often be rejected due to having so very many such kids applying.

 

 

 

Right, sure - creative writing could be part of English.  But the point is that she wants to spend a lot of time both studying and doing creative writing, and I want her to do academic writing too, and we both want to do a ton of lit.  So, right there, she will spend 300-400 hours a year on this.  She will. The goal isn't to limit the time in this area, it's her passion. The goal is to give her academic credit for the time she is spending on this stuff.  So by breaking it up into an English credit and a Creative Writing credit, she gets "credit" for the fact that she is spending multiple hours per day/week reading, writing, and studying literature.  The point is to have her credits give her credit for the time she spends in this area - her specialty area - and to create time in her schedule, via an official elective, for her to do creative writing.  Ditto with theater - she does acting as an elective, but she also wants to read and analyze plays and films and attend plays. So we have a Theater Arts credit - academic work in the area - as well as having the act of acting - drama - as an elective. 

 

Point being, I want to let her spend time on things that she is passionate about, give her academic credit for all the credit-worthy stuff she is doing, and make sure she has the time to pursue her passions, rather than filling her schedule with subjects she's less interested in.  So the point of having 3 English-y credits (English/Lit, Creative Writing, and Theater Arts) is that she actually spends 15+ hours a week on this stuff.  And then another 10+ hours a week on the drama elective when a play is in production.  She doesn't want to reduce this.  What we want to do is to reduce the other stuff - the check boxes, the must-dos, and also the things that are valuable to do for being a generally well-rounded and well-educated citizen.  Those things aren't unimportant, but they can't be allowed to crowd out the time and energy for the things that she really cares about.

 

Does this make sense?

 

ETA: I also understand from reading on this board that it isn't necessarily a good idea to turn everything into a credit, because you want some legitimate extracurriculars. So my logic is that by having both a Theater Arts credit, and Drama as an extracurricular, this is a demonstration of the passion/interest in the subject and that significant time is being spent on the extracurricular.  Truly, at this point she has spent as many hours on drama - her extracurricular - as she has on any of her for-credit subjects.

 

 

It does make sense. But couldn't the academic writing be part of a history of theater course, or something along those line?  And possibly a half or a quarter credit of science could focus on optics, with stage lighting being in some way involved such that there'd be both some academic writing and a practical project?  

 

15+ hours per week does maybe make sense to be considered the equivalent of 3 classes...   I'm not sure, though, since a regular school class could be 5 days per week 45 or 50 min per day, and daily homework, including reading of a literature book on the weekends for several hours--so could easily be 7-8 hours/wk for 1 LA class. OTOH, the time spent in home school is probably more intense and focussed than the time in a class at school.

Edited by Pen
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I have the opposite problem, Quark.  My ds sees how many more hours all the other high achievers he knows are putting in and it makes him feel lazy.  He does not want to work harder, but needs me to tell him that it really is ok to take breaks.  But then I wonder if he is doing enough to prepare for going to an elite university.  Not enough from the point of view of getting in, but from the point of view of hours and struggle and time management etc.  Should I push him harder so he is better prepared? 

 

No, you should not push him harder.

DD attends a college that has an ominous reputation for the academic rigor and the insane work load, and the entire school culture is such that only non-stop work gets you street cred. She has friends who attended prestigious prep high schools with similar work loads; some hated it, some liked it. She has repeatedly expressed that it would have destroyed her having to handle such a bone breaking schedule as a high schooler - but she is able to handle it as a college student.

We always had a somewhat relaxed schedule time wise - despite strong rigorous course work. It is wrong to set rigor and time commitment equal. We never schooled more than 6 hours per day, and she had plenty of free time for her extracurricular and leisure time pursuits, Nevertheless, she graduated with 32 college credits and a rigorous transcript. But 6 hours per day translate into at least 6 credits, and if you use summers somewhat and are efficient, it is easy to have more.

Time spent is NOT a measure of rigor. And I do not think kids need to be put through such an awful schedule to be ready for college, even for demanding elite schools.

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Part of it is that she is a light sleeper and part if up us that she doesn't sleep enough because she takes a *long* time to fall asleep - like a couple of hours at night - she's always been that way even as a baby?

 

My roommate in college took forever to fall asleep at night. She knew this about herself & worked hard to put herself to bed early so she could still sleep enough.

 

Fast forward to now:  I have one of these & to top it off, she has always needed a ton of sleep. She, like my old college roommate, puts herself into bed early. For her, that means going to bed at 8 p.m. (This isn't always possible when outside activities force her to be out later. That's one of the many reasons she didn't like karate & she is upset about her religious prep class this fall. Both put her off her schedule.) She's up early, no matter what, like your dd. So, it all depends on when she can go to bed. She is a light sleeper & if something wakes her up in the middle of the night, she might not be able to go back to sleep. For reference, she took 2-3 hour afternoon naps as a 5 & 6 year old and still slept the whole night through. She's just always needed a lot of sleep. So, I'm right there with you.

 

I just wanted to add that I took my own advice yesterday. All of the kids have colds. We declared Friday a "necessary day" and only did math plus online class stuff that had to get done - with me being utilized almost the entire day. It allowed all the kids to rest some & still got the minimum done. We'll start back in full speed on Monday (unless I come down with the cold in the meantime). That gives everyone the weekend to recuperate, too.

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Like I said somewhere else in this thread, I feel this constant tension between a rigorous academic load and letting her chase down her extracurricular interests.  Her swim coach eyeballed her suspiciously tonight and asked if she had been getting 8 hours of sleep a night.  She just laughed at him.  I wish I had the moxie to be an unschooler; it seems the answer would be so much clearer that way. 

 

But rigorous academics really only take 5 hours per day, if you aim for a credit per year in each of the core subjects*. That is school from 8am to 1pm, (or 2pm if you have an earlier lunch in between) and that leaves plenty of time for extracurriculars and fun social stuff and 8 hours of sleep. I mean, sleep from 10pm to 6am, that leaves 8 hours for non school stuff. What am I missing?

I sense that "rigor" is often confused with "lots of hours spent".

Electives can be spawned from the fun stuff.

 

*ETA: I have not encountered any college that had more stringent requirements than four years each of math, science, social science, English, and foreign language. Other than maybe an additional art credit... easily worked in over the course of four years.

Edited by regentrude
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This is a stupid question, but how do I block schedule?

 

 

Lots of different options.

What we did: on a large scale, complete one credit over the course of a semester instead of a school year. On a small scale, binge on subjects for blocks of several hours per day as the mood strikes. Both my kids find it more efficient to have a continuous stretch of time available to work on projects, as opposed to switching subject every 60 minutes. I let my kids figure out their own scheduling.

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What am I missing?

 

I think you missed where reefgazer's dd spends 26+ hours outside the home each week. 2 1/2 days of co-op, three nights of swim team, riding lessons & barn work, etc. plus a full load. 

 

We routinely work weekends and late into the night because we have so many other things going during the day.  I don't mind late night work and some weekend work, but it just all seems like too much.  A sample day, without schoolwork or time for random stuff like doctor appointments looks like this for us:

 

 

Monday:  Barn work from 1:00 - 4:00 pm

                 Swim team practice from 6:00 - 8:00 pm 

 

Tuesday  Co-op from 12:15 - 2:45 pm

                 Swim team practice from 5:45-8:00 pm

 

Wednesday:  Riding lessons from 7:45 - 10:00 am

                      French tutor from 1:00 - 2:00 pm (She sees the French tutor on Saturday, as well)

                      Swim team practice from 5:45-8:00 pm

 

Thursday:  Co-op from 9:15 am - 2:45 pm

               

Friday:  Co-op from 10:00 am - 1:30 pm

             Swim team practice from 6:00 - 8:00 pm 

 

 Saturday or Sunday:  Barn for about 4 hours (Forgot to add this to my original post)

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I think you missed where reefgazer's dd spends 26+ hours outside the home each week. 2 1/2 days of co-op, three nights of swim team, riding lessons & barn work, etc. plus a full load. 

 

 

But that was exactly what I was writing about: rigorous academics can be done in 5 hours per day, i.e. 25 hours per week. That leaves plenty of hours in the week to do 30 hours or more outside the house. Minus sleep and food, there are 14 hours in the day. Only 5 of those are needed for school, and only on school days, to satisfy the strictest requirements, if you can get some electives out of the extracurriculars/"other". Leaves 8 hours per day for "other" stuff.

 

And I assume the coop serves an academic purpose, right? So those hours count as school. I really don't see this as so bad. I see it more as a problem of logistics and "time confetti": she does not have long consecutive blocks fro school at home. But then, the coop hours are a lot and should count. If the coop does not actually contribute to learning, I would reevaluate - for purely social purposes, that is too much daytime.

Edited by regentrude
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And I assume the coop serves an academic purpose, right? So those hours count as school. I really don't see this as so bad. I see it more as a problem of logistics and "time confetti": she does not have long consecutive blocks fro school at home. But then, the coop hours are a lot and should count. If the coop does not actually contribute to learning, I would reevaluate - for purely social purposes, that is too much daytime.

 

Except for the one class that reefgazer is teaching, I don't think the co-op classes are counting as part of her academic load. They re-evaluated the Friday co-op for next semester as I think that is completely social (in terms of academics "counting"). That's where I think the overload is, too.

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I want her to do academic writing too,

 

I would look for ways to double-up. For example, instead of adding time to English for academic writing, make this part of history or science time. So, if you assign a paper in one of her other subjects, she does that for the week instead of read/study/whatever she usually does in that subject. Be strict about time per day instead of "books completed." Don't have her spend extra time to finish all of her books, in other words. Sometimes 3/4 of a text book is good enough.

 

I also think that at some point, if time is becoming an issue, that a parent needs to sit down with a student and look at what's really realistic:

 

  • Here's what's required to graduate (have these clear in your mind. If you are helping a student be college-ready as a possibility, then know what's minimally required.) These take X hours per day.
  • Here's your passion(s). How many hours per day do you want to spend on these? On this one, I personally like to plan a minimum time for this, and then let my child add more hours in their "free time" if they want to. So, for example, for this one I might say, "Let's plan on an hour per day for creative writing (or 5 hours a week if she writes in blocks of time), but if you end up wanting to spend more time than that in your free time, keep track of your hours and I'll make sure you get credit for it."

 

It may mean literature and writing are done in blocks (read a lot one month, write a lot another month). It may mean theater and one of her other passions alternate (during play season, there's less time for another passion, but in between plays, she can do a lot more of that other passion--we don't need to do every passion every day all the time. I don't get to follow all of my passions, do you? but I do have time for some of them, and I can either choose one to focus on or let them come "in seasons.")

 

  • Lay out needs for eating, sleeping, family time, self-care etc..., and don't let these be skimped.

 

As a more general response to this thread--I think part of what this whole thread is dancing around is the idea of margin (which relates to self-care). It's not realistic to think that every moment of every day can be scheduled out to the nines and include every last thing we might like to do. The brain needs a break to just be and just rest sometimes--and the time it needs may vary by the person. Some people keep a much busier schedule than I do--they're wired that way and that works for them. I need think time--and I've learned that means that I need to protect think time, or it will eventually come back to bite me. I let my kids experiment in this area and see how busy they like to be, but I also help them think it through--do they like being super busy with little margin, or do they like more margin for life's accidentals or "just time to be?" 

 

It's easy to believe the myth that we can add something to our schedule without it taking up some time--the "nothing" time in our schedule is not really nothing. Sure, it may not be important, and it may be replaceable--but we need to realize that we're giving up margin and whatever we generally do with our margin and then evaluate whether that actually works for us.

 

So, I think all of those are important things to consider when trying to decide where to cut back and make life doable. A lot of times, margin is the last thing considered. Books like Ordering Your Private World suggest starting with margin first. I confess, I don't always do that! But when life gets too busy for me, I start to recognize it sooner and then have to rethink my priorities. When I don't get enough "think time," I tend to stay up late in order to get it, and then I don't get enough sleep. If we see our children doing things like this, it's time to help them recognize the issue and then think through their priorities again. Life is about choices, and it's not realistic to think we can do it all. I'm not concerned about my kids getting to follow all of their passions. I AM concerned about them getting time for *some* of their interests. So, I make *some* interests a priority--but not all of them all the time. 

 

Sometimes I'm very direct in this process--Here are your priorities (requirements for school and home life plus one or two interests we've committed to), and you make sure you get these done first. Then if you have time, you can add on some of the others. 

 

If adding on another interest means a daily or weekly commitment, I ask them to think and pray through that--"Take this week and notice what you are doing each day at X o'clock, and how many hours of your day are full, and how much down time you like to have. Consider what it would be like to not have that time any more as you think through whether you would like that or not. This sounds like fun, but are you really sure you have time for that?"

 

I think it helps our kids when we help them think through this process--because they'll be inundated with possibilities throughout their lives. Good to start learning now what kind of margin they need in general (and how that changes depending on the family life situation.)

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 rigorous academics can be done in 5 hours per day, i.e. 25 hours per week.

 

I think this might possibly be the case for some students, but I'm not sure it holds for the majority of US high school students pursuing what are typically considered "rigorous" academic courses.

 

One could definitely limit academics to 5 hours a day--an average of 1 hour/day/subject for the standard 36-week school year. And, those 5 hours could be spent on rigorous academics. But, I'm not sure an hour/day is realistic for an average (ie, non-gifted) student to cover the material taught in many of the courses that are generally considered "rigorous."

 

Take for example the average, non-gifted but diligent student who wants to cover the standard AP Chemistry material and score a 4 or 5 on the AP exam.  Would it be unusual for that one Chem course alone to take more than an hour/day of study, between the reading, the labs, and "lectures"/discussion with someone who knows what they're doing?  Even the average, non-gifted but diligent student studying Chem for the first time... Would it be that unusual for him to put in 7-8 hours/week between reading, lecture, and labs?

 

A non-AP, but still "rigorous" English class also seems like it would most likely average more than an hour/day, assuming that a "rigorous" English class reads whole works of quality literature, not excerpts, and that the student writes solid essays about those works.

 

For my average, but diligent students, it definitely takes more than an average of 1 hour/day, five days a week, to complete some of their courses that I consider "rigorous."  I don't think they are too far out of the norm with the time it takes them to cover "rigorous" material, but maybe they are.

 

 

Edited by yvonne
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But rigorous academics really only take 5 hours per day, if you aim for a credit per year in each of the core subjects*. That is school from 8am to 1pm, (or 2pm if you have an earlier lunch in between) and that leaves plenty of time for extracurriculars and fun social stuff and 8 hours of sleep.

AoPS takes up to 2 hours a day, but since math is what a kid likes, it's OK. Then you layer 1 hour of foreign language, 1 hour of science, and that leaves you with just 1 hour for English and history. Writing papers takes time. Researching takes even more sometimes. Listening lectures takes time, reading books takes time. I can't imagine squeezing English into just one hour a day and still manage to put a dent into rigorous WTM recommended reading list. Oh, and then here is history. And then an elective, although I know you aren't counting that in a core. I don't know. No matter how I slice it, I can't see it happening in five hours, not unless rigor is out and we get math that doesn't ask the student to spend 30 minutes per problem (often enough) and significantly curtail reading lists.

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