This has to be the question that plagues homeschoolers more often than any other: Am I doing enough? At times, this question appears in my mailbox accompanied by an arm-long list of academic pursuits and supplemental activities that can make me feel tired from just reading it, while other parents are truly puzzled by where to begin teaching their children. For homeschooling parents who are organizing their own school days, there is often no guideline or rulebook for what needs to be studied when. While homeschooling is often a blessing in the way it does not depend on a specific plan, the list below will help parents evaluate their children’s interests and levels of involvement in various academic and leisure pursuits. That evaluation will help you to determine whether you are doing enough within your own homeschool.
Have you stopped to analyze why you feel your schedule may be inadequate? Do you feel you are not doing enough because your homeschooling routine takes very little time to complete each day? Do you worry that other students may be learning more than your students are learning? Do you fear that one day your students will be confronted with a situation they are not prepared to handle? On the other hand, at least one homeschooling mom has lamented that, even if she could teach everything, there was no guarantee that her students would learn everything. The way I viewed it, my most important task was to teach my students how to learn. Then I could relax, knowing that, if necessary, my children would be capable of teaching themselves anything they wanted to know — for the rest of their lives. That did not mean that I dropped our daily schedule of educational fare, but it did mean that I no longer felt I had to worry and fret every minute that my students might miss something.
Here are twenty questions to help you determine if your homeschool schedule is satisfactory and if your children are learning valuable skills. While some of the questions cover areas that are not addressed during the main academic portion of your homeschooling schedule, they are designed to adjust your perspective of homeschooling, education, and life in general.
20 Questions —
It may be helpful to take this quiz multiple times, focusing your answers each time on a different child. Questions and answers should be adapted for various ages — obviously, a high school student should possess more advanced academic skills than a preschooler, and the free-time activities should also reflect the difference in ages. Please consider the use of he/his/him to be generic. This is a non-scientific quiz, based solely on personal experiences.
Score as follows:
5 points for a definite “Yes/Nearly Always” answer
2 points for a “Maybe/Sometimes” answer
0 points for a “No/Rarely” answer
1. Is your child interested in his schoolwork?
2. Does your child have multiple interests and duties to fill his time each day (schoolwork; home chores; pleasure reading; hobbies; playing beneficial or educational video or computer games; playing board, table, card, dice games; open or unstructured playtimes not involving TV; outdoor sports and activities; and artistic or musical pursuits)?
3. Is your child able to entertain himself during free time?
4. Is your child involved in any hobbies that could become lifelong pursuits?
5. Does your child read anything for pleasure (books, magazines, comic books, internet articles, etc.)?
6. Does your child beg to keep the light on past bedtime so he can “finish the chapter”?
7. Can your child read and follow directions (directions for traveling to another location, directions for assembling a new toy or playing a new game, and directions for preparing a recipe)?
8. Does your child possess an extensive vocabulary for his age?
9. Does your child willingly speak when spoken to? Will he answer questions from relatives or friends regarding his schoolwork? Does he give complete answers using full sentences?
10. Is your child comfortable (considering his age) speaking in front of a friendly group of people (family or friends) in an informal setting?
11. Can your child react appropriately to people he does not know in acceptable situations (store clerks and sales associates, restaurant wait-staff, police, and medical professionals)?
12. Does your child play a variety of games (board & table games, card games, dice games, solitary games & group games, and games focusing on math, geography, and varied trivia)?
13. Can your child accurately handle money and make change (whether in real life or as part of a board game)?
14. Does your child help with home chores on a regular basis?
15. Does your child possess basic life-skills? Can he prepare a simple meal (make a sandwich or scramble eggs)? Can he clean himself, his clothing, and his living quarters?
16. Does your child possess basic computer skills (type with more than two fingers, control the computer mouse or track-ball, open a word-processing program and begin a document, and navigate through safe internet sites)?
17. Does your child possess basic research skills (finding a specific book at the library, finding a specific number in the telephone book, finding a specific place on a map, and using a dictionary)?
18. Does your child witness and/or assist in a variety of adult responsibilities so that he will be comfortable when faced with those situations himself (paying bills, balancing checkbook or bank account, simple home repairs or auto repairs, meal planning, making appointments, and organizing a home)?
19. Can your child take notes from a speaker? (Your pastor’s sermon is an excellent training ground for taking notes in future college lectures.)
20. Does your child possess basic religious beliefs and know why he believes what he believes? Does he know how to learn more about his faith?
Below 40 points — You need to consider doing more. Begin working on any areas where you scored a 0, and try to include your students in a wider variety of activities. If your children are very young (especially age 7 and younger), be sure they have a wide variety of playtime activities.
40-85 points — You are off to a good start. Use your score sheet to help you see where you need improvement, and do not disregard time spent away from the pencils.
Above 85 points — You are definitely doing enough! Congratulate yourself and your students on your achievements and take tomorrow off as a Reward Day. If possible, invite Dad along to share in your celebration!
[Note: a completely revised and updated version of this quiz is now available in our book, Diagnostic Tools to Help the Homeschooling Parent.]