In the Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains the 10,000-hour rule. If I can be allowed to boil it down to a pithy phrase it goes something like this: success depends more on the time you devote to your craft than innate genius. There are many stones that can be cast at the theory — the way we define success, the importance of the number “10,000,” the reflection of the individual’s determination, and the importance of applying those hours to something we are interested in — and the author himself points out that no one does it alone.
But there is a point to be made here. Our children need time — time to get in their 10,000 hours.
If we believe that God created these individuals with specific talents and interests, then we can be sure they need adequate time to develop those interests and talents.
How do we find 10,000 hours?
- Live a learning lifestyle. If learning is a lifestyle (as opposed to homeschooling becoming an additional block of time we add into our day) the entire day will have room for individual pursuits. This is not to say that we don’t need to make room for the basics — you won’t get far pursuing anything without fundamental skills — but that our lifestyle has a learning bent. Instead of being entertained in free time, we learn!
- Stick to the basics. We homeschoolers have a tendency to spread ourselves a bit thin. We want to cover it all! Not a bad goal, but the way we “cover it all” is vital to determining the degree to which we adequately cover anything at all! Rather spending the year loading up on art appreciation, music appreciation, Latin, logic, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, writing, literature, history, geography, science, lab, Spanish, drawing, and watercolors (along with lessons outside the home), we can pare back to those essential things. Yes, we can cover it all, but maybe not all in the same year! And we certainly are best to stick to the fundamentals of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic at the early ages — reading great books for history, enjoying science kits, and filling our homes with beautiful art and uplifting music.
- Appreciate their interests. We can feed an interest by allowing our children to use their interest for investigations, the subject of their writing, and books they read. We can use their interests as a basis of study. And we can encourage them to pursue their interests.
- Keep table-time to the necessary minimum. This is easy to do when we remember that learning does not equal worksheets and textbooks! There will be time spent hitting the books, but it will likely represent a fraction of the learning that takes place in any given day.
When we look around us and appreciate all that is taking place, we will see that our children ARE learning — and learning in a way that has relevance to them and sticks. (If you do not see the fruit, perhaps you can slowly encourage your children toward using their time to engage in more fruitful endeavors.)
This assurance gives us room to provide our children with room to get in their 10,000 hours!