For the past few weeks, I've been babysitting my neighbor's children when they're not in school. One of the most striking differences I've noticed between public school students and homeschoolers, is the children's lack of free time.
Children who attend public schools are committed to an outside schedule from the hours of 8:15 to 3:45. After that, they have homework, special projects, sports practices, games and church activities. Weekends are filled with birthday parties and other outside commitments. The children have very little time to" just be".
On the other hand, some would likely say my children have too much free time. Formal lessons for my kindergartner and second grader take 1-2 hours per day, and scheduled activities outside of our home consume less than 5 hours per week. If there's one thing we have enough of, it's free time. I'll admit that I often feel pressure to fill that time with "something productive".
We're beginning our 4th day without television, and now that TV and video games are not an option, learning fills up the free space in my children's day. Instead of watching TV, asking me if they can watch TV, and wondering when they'll be able to watch again, my children are filling that space with productive activities.
The science and history books on our shelves are being read and enjoyed. Games are being played. Art is being created, and the piano is being practiced. Only my 2-year-old has shown signs of missing the television. Yesterday he grabbed my hand, walked me to the family room, pointed at the TV cabinet and gave me a look that asked, "What happened to that thing?"
This week, I realized that despite my commitment to leave unscheduled space in my children's day, I let TV and video games rob them of the time they needed to "just be". Because I now realize the value of that time, I'll be all the more vigilant about protecting it.