Friday, April 22, 2011

Too Much Free Time?

One of the greatest things about homeschooling is the fact that it doesn't take all day to do it. And if some homeschooler tells you that they take a full day to complete their work all day, they are either lying to you or doing WAY more than is necessary. There are several reasons you can figure on getting finished early. One is the fact that you don't have to check roll in the mornings. There are no potty breaks for 30 kids that you have to wait on. There is no hour long bus ride in the morning and afternoon taking your time. The list can go on and on. 

In our day, we generally get up, eat a nice, slow breakfast, spend awhile getting dressed and doing morning chores, and then we all end up at the table (or outside, depending on what we are doing for school that day). We spend a little time doing whatever school I have lined up for them, and then we are free. We spend the rest of the day taking care of chores around the house or yard, and the kids are allowed large chunks of free time to use most any way they like. 

During their free time, I do limit TV and video games, so they aren't just spending their time mindlessly. I give them plenty of options that, besides being fun, are very educational. They are allowed time to read, paint, watch educational shows like PBS Kids, play educational games on the computer, play outside, build forts, plant in the garden, ride their bikes, and all sorts of other fun free-time activities.

During Britches' free time for the last few months, she has been creating miniatures. Miniatures are like doll houses - furniture, house, dishes, whatever. Neither of my older kids have ever liked having something handed to them already made, but would prefer to create their own play things. So she has been in her room in much of her spare time working on her doll clothes and furniture. I just had to show you a little of what she has done. 

This is a bed she made for one of her girls out of craft sticks. The mattress she is laying on is made from her potholder loom. 

This girl got a real doll pillow, but Britches made her bed out of an old sock I was about to throw away. You would not believe how thrilled she was when I told her she could have the sock. 

She made a bench with a padded footstool for her girls to sit on.

A friend of hers from church gave her the bathtub and potty, but she made the sink out of cardboard and the towel and rug out of an old towel. 

This is the dressing room, complete with posters on the door. 

And coming out of the dressing room, the girl gets to show off the blouse, skirt, and scarf that Britches made for her. (The hair needs a little work.)

The girls have their own bookshelf with books waiting to be read.

Two chairs for them to sit on while reading their books.

And there is even a place for her puppies to play.

Britches did not make this all at one time, and I did not tell her to put this together. She has come up with it on her own over the last few months during her free time. 

Little Man is very likely going to be a engineer someday. He sees a problem and goes to work finding a solution. Yesterday, I told them to help me by picking up all the toys in the living room. Britches said it would sure be nice if we had a robot or something to do it for us. And Little Man came up with the great idea to put a dozer feature on the front of his motorized car. Then his car could do all the clean-up for him. Too bad I made him help pick up the toys BEFORE he was allowed to go build his addition to his car. 

After designing and building the attachment, he spread a few toys on the floor and tested the dozer feature to see if it would work. He decided that it would work on small items, but nothing too big. But he figured it worked well enough to get him out of toy pick-up next time.

He decided to modify it and make car armor. Not really sure why he thinks it needs armor around our house. Hmmm...

And then he built a shovel attachment, so that, after all the toys were pushed into a pile by the dozer, he could pick them up and let the car carry them back to where they belonged.

I have to say, he took longer designing the parts to his car to help him cut down on his work than he did on actually picking up toys. But that's not the point. The point here is that he used his IMAGINATION and some pretty good building skills to design something on his own. This is not a project I told him to do, and I didn't take over and show him how he needed to design his car. This was in his free time where he was allowed to be creative.

In your home, are your children allowed plenty of free, unstructured time where they are allowed to be creative and use their imaginations? Are they allowed plenty of time outside to run and use their muscles and just be kids? Some of the best learning is done when, after your kid sees something they think is cool, they use their own brains to come up with something great to play and do. Try cutting out of school early one day to allow a large chunk of free time, and just see where it leads your child. And then leave me a comment telling me all about it!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post! We recently started a "no electronics on weekdays" policy at our house, and I have been so pleased with the things the kids have come up with to do in their spare time! My husband and I had always limited the kids' electronics time, but we felt like we needed to totally cut it out during the week, and we're really glad we did. My son (age 14) has been MUCH more help in the yard and with other jobs around the house that his dad just doesn't have time to take care of. He has also been enjoying doing his Legos. He's always loved Legos, but wasn't making the time to do them like he had done before. He loves to read, too, and has been doing much more of that. My daughters have been reading a lot, listening to favorite Christian music, and keeping their rooms much cleaner! My younger daughter has enjoyed helping me with laundry (especially hanging it out on the line) and with cooking. She is also enjoying playing with her dolls and doing arts & crafts (a favorite of hers). I love seeing how creative they can be when they have time to explore their own interests, and I love how they are "stepping up" to help me around the house too. I'd say this new policy is turning out to be great for the whole family!


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