Posted in Christian, Covenantal, Classical, Curriculum, Curriculum - Robinson, High School & Beyond, Homeschooling, Homeschooling Methods, Our Adventures, Subject History & Geography

Work Expands to Fill the Time Allotted


In a previous post on Tree of Life‘s Canadian History course, I quoted Spunky as saying,

Mom, you do realize that they have given us THREE WEEKS to read SEVEN chapters, right?  How could it possibly take that long to read that little?  I can’t believe my friend used to complain to me about how hard Tree of Life courses are!  They’re not hard at all!

I can now report what I knew would happen if we stuck to Tree of Life’s timeline for assignments and that is this:

Work expands to fill the time allotted.

By this I mean that no matter what assignment you give your children, it will take them at least as long as the time you give them to complete the assignment.  Ask them to write a paragraph in a hour?  It will be done.  Give them a week to write a paragraph?  It will take a week to get it written.  It could even take them a month…if you give them a month to do so.

Here is what happened with our Tree of Life course:

  1. I gave Gentle Giant and Spunky 3 weeks to complete the first reading assignment, which was to read 7 chapters.  They were to read the chapters and prepare for the test.  It took them 4 weeks to complete this assignment, which ended when I forced each of them to write the test and move on (they both got A’s by the way).
  2. Seeing that the kids would drag out the course much longer than is necessary if I let them continue taking the scenic route, I assigned the second batch of readings to be done in one week.  The kids completed all but one chapter of the readings in that time.  See–they really can complete a set of readings and a test in two weeks’ time!

Please understand that both of my kids read very quickly.  In one of his other courses, Gentle Giant reads up to 4 chapters at a time in about an hour — and then can intelligently discuss them.  Giving a number of days to complete a few chapters is not unreasonable in our case.

In my opinion, the Tree of Life schedule is overly generous, at least for my students.  In the future, I will continue to schedule the assignments in a tighter time scale to ensure they are completed in good time.  Knowing the human tendency to procrastinate and drag things out if allowed to do so, I will encourage my kids to work to the best of their abilities without overloading them.  I’m not sure when we will actually complete the course, but I expect that it will be in much less time than Tree of Life allots.  Hence the reason why we generally do not pay to take courses and use more of a Robinson Curriculum-type approach to our studies.


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