The time you will need to teach your children essentials — reading, writing, and arithmetic — is much less than you think. Let me quote author and former public-school teacher John Gatto from his wonderful book, Dumbing Us Down:
“Were colonists geniuses? [i.e., why did our colonial forefathers have literacy rates close to 90 percent?]. No, truth is that reading, writing, and arithmetic only take about 100 hours [italics added] to transmit as long as audience is eager and willing to learn.... Millions of people teach themselves these things. It really isn’t very hard...”
To be conservative, let’s assume that because you’re not an experienced teacher it takes you three hundred hours to teach your child these skills with help of learn-to-read phonics workbooks and computer software. Three hundred hours, divided by average six-hour public school day, comes out to fifty school days, which is about ten weeks or three months.
Let me emphasize this point — it could take you, or a tutor you pay, as little as three months to teach your child to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. Again, to be even more conservative, most children could learn these skills in one year if you (or a tutor) concentrated your instruction on these basics. Public schools take eight to twelve years of children’s lives, yet they turn out millions of high-school graduates who can barely read their own diploma or multiply 12 x15 without a calculator.
David Colfax and his wife Micki were public-school teachers turned ranchers who taught their four sons at home in 1970s and 1980s, and three of their sons eventually went to Harvard. They co-authored a book titled Homeschooling For Excellence, which describes their home-schooling experience. In their book, they compared time a child wastes in public school to time average home-schooling parents need to teach their children basics. Here’s what they wrote:
“The numbers are straightforward and irrefutable. The child who attends public school typically spends approximately 1100 hours a year there, but only twenty percent of these—220—are spent, as educators say, ‘on task.’ Nearly 900 hours, or eighty percent, are squandered on what are essentially organizational matters.”
“In contrast, homeschooled child who spends only two hours per day, seven days a week, year-round, on basics alone, logs over three times as many hours ‘on task’ in a given year than does his public school counterpart. Moreover, unlike public school child, whose day is largely taken up by non-task activities, homeschooled child has ample time left each day to take part in other activities — athletics, art, history, etc...”