Once a parent decides to homeschool their child, one of the most basic questions that come to mind is, “How long is a homeschool day?”
When I first started out as a homeschool mom, figuring out the amount of time to spend each day homeschooling my kids was one of the trickiest.
Considering that I also work from home, it used to be a big challenge for me and my kids. And it took a while to finally find a certain level of comfort and balance in our daily homeschooling schedule. But the thing is, nothing is set in stone when it comes to homeschooling. There's no exact rule to follow in terms of how long your homeschool day should be.
That being said, there are three main things to consider when planning your homeschool day. Your state’s homeschool requirement, your child’s unique needs, and your educational goals for your child.
How Long Is a Homeschool Day? 3 Factors to Help You Decide
Your State’s Requirement
As responsible homeschooling moms and dads, we have to be as compliant with our local laws as possible. Check out your state’s law in terms of required hours and see how you can manage your daily homeschool hours considering that. Some states, however, don’t specify a certain amount of hours when providing instruction.
Your Child's Learning Type
Each child is unique. As a mom to four daughters, I know for a fact that even though they’re all girls, they have different personalities, learning styles, and behaviors. It's important to understand each of their learning capabilities and even their attention spans. In other words, the duration of your lessons for each child may vary.
For example, suppose your first child is an academic type. Naturally, academically-inclined kids have faster retention. And as expected, these fast learners finish their work faster than the others. “So what should this child do now?” you ask. Well, you don’t have to panic and force filling their free time. Be creative in giving your child lessons. Let them go out, do experiments, and incorporate other hands-on activities with their academics as opposed to a strictly structured instruction.
Perhaps you also have a child who lacks motivation. You notice that you need to help and support learning for this child by asking them to finish whatever task they start. So kids of this type of character and behavior may need more hours than the more academically-inclined child. Again, there are several types of child behavior and that’s precisely why you have to consider your child before creating your homeschooling day schedule.
Your Goals for Your Child
This is where your choice of homeschool curriculum and teaching methods come in. Do you want to give your kid a rigorous academic education? Or do you prefer a more informal and practical approach to learning? Of course, your family dynamics are another factor to look at when it comes to deciding the hours spent on homeschooling.
If it’s your first time exploring this exciting world of at-home education, know that typically a homeschool day isn’t as long as a regular day at a school. This is a misconception that we need to clear once and for all. So don’t worry if your third-grader finishes his school work in under three hours! Homeschoolers need not spend most of their homeschool day at their desk because you want to meet the state-required hours. It’s ridiculous to let your little children spend 3 hours doing sit-down lessons!
How Long Is a Homeschool Day? How Many Hours You Should Spend
As we mentioned above, it depends on your child. But just to give you some general guidelines in terms of hours per day to be spent for “formal lessons”, I’ve listed my own preferred schedule below. Then again, as homeschooling parents, we always have the liberty and luxury to be flexible. Remember your children aren’t in a regular public school. It is your family’s choice to homeschool. As I’ve spent years in this beautiful blend of home, family, and education, I’ve come to realize that homeschooling is more of a lifestyle.
You can always tweak and adjust your homeschool day hours to meet your kids’ unique needs.
- Kindergarteners — I suggest giving them lessons for no more than 30 to 45 minutes at the most each day. You can even break it into 10 to 15-minute chunks to meet your kindergartener’s super short attention span.
- 1st Graders — For first-grade homeschoolers, about an hour or so of formal studies are OK. This age group has a longer attention span.
- 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Graders — For these grade levels you can go for about 2 hours of lessons.
- 5th and 6th Graders — At this level, you can allocate 3 hours a day of classes as you now slowly introduce a more rigorous course load. This age group has much more attention and perhaps even enthusiasm for learning.
- 7th Graders and up — You can spend 4 hours or so with these kids. As they prep for higher-level learning, it is important to help them boost their skills and be ready for bigger academic challenges down the road.
How Many Days a Week Do You Homeschool?
While some homeschooling parents prefer an unstructured homeschool day, I feel comfort in the thought that I have a system in place that’s working for me and my kids. But I consider it more like my personal guide as I assist my kids in their day to day learning. As I aim for a more sane and organized home life, having a clearer sense of direction would help you achieve peace of mind and therefore, a happier family life.
The number of days you spend on homeschooling may rely on your state’s required hours. So it's really up to you to determine how you spread out the hours throughout the week to meet your weekly or monthly requirements.
But for those who reside in a state without the time requirement, feel free to decide on whether you do formal lessons for 4 days or 3 days. Again, when deciding on time and day allocation, take your child’s age or grade level into consideration. For instance, teaching kindergarteners 2 hours of formal teaching a day for 5 straight days might be too much for a five-year-old homeschooler.
How Long Is a Homeschool Day? Planning Each One
In my case, planning is an essential part of my family’s homeschool life. However, it is always done with my kids in mind. With the above factors considered, planning requires your own choices and decisions. In other words, your home, your kids, your decisions.
To help you come up with a sound homeschooling routine for your kids, think about the following:
- What time of the day do you start? Now it's up to you and your kids to agree on a certain wake-up time. Consistency is key if you want to stick to your planned schedule. But again, the beauty of homeschooling is that it allows you to be flexible with timing and schedules.
- Be creative and engaging with your children. Find an exciting method to signal the beginning of a brand new homeschooling day. Maybe a few minutes of yoga in the yard or maybe a short (but fun) activity to rev up their day and prep them for learning. Discover more fun-filled and creative learning activities here.
- Difficult subjects come first. Again, this varies on each child. I think there is no right or wrong order here. As long as your chosen schedule encourages and boosts learning, then by all means, follow that. Make adjustments and changes from time to time just to break the monotony. Usually, the core subjects are the most difficult ones for many kids. But is it the same in your child’s case?
- Consider electives in addition to your core subjects. You might want to use a bit of your extra time by adding subjects like music and art. Or perhaps let them learn an instrument.
- Include unstructured playtime or an activity period. Don’t be too hard on yourself and kids. Strive to find a good balance between formal studies and fun time.
No matter your schedule, and no matter how many hours or days you spend on homeschooling your children, your child’s success depends on how you, as their at-home teacher, assess your overall family situation, your child’s learning capacity, and behavior, as well as your educational goals. When you identify and understand what your real needs are as a homeschooling family, everything else will fall into place.
Create something that matches your lifestyle and preferences. Find a schedule that makes the most sense for you.
What does your homeschool day schedule look like? Do you spend more hours doing sit-down classes or do you prefer activities-based instruction? Share your own experience by commenting down below! I’ll be happy to hear what your own thoughts are and how you feel about homeschooling.
Here are more homeschool related posts to help you:
- 5 Homeschooling Strategies for the Work at Home Parent
- 60+ Homeschoolers share their Favorite Homeschool Curriculum
- Tackling the Homeschool Table
- How to Homeschool Kindergarten
- How to Homeschool on a Budget – It's Easy with this One Resource
- 15 Free Homeschool High School Resources
- 5 Secrets to Homeschooling and Having a Career Too
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