How many hours a day do you homeschool? This is a popular question for parents looking to start homeschooling. Especially during the Covid-19 lockdown, “…many women put careers on hold to home school.”. It is also a question that creates discussion amongst parents who have been homeschooling for a while. Homeschool parents want to make sure their children are receiving enough schooling time.
On average, most homeschooling families do 3-4 hours/day homeschooling. However, what works for one family may not work for another family. The amount of time spent homeschooling depends on the children’s attention span and age, outside responsibilities, and schedules. It is also dependent on state regulations. Some states require a certain number of hours each year.
Homeschooling time depends on what is best for the family. In the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks always wants whatever feels “just right.” Homeschooling is the same way. It can be challenging to determine the amount of time that is “just right.” You might be working too much or not enough. Each child is different; therefore, each homeschooling atmosphere and schedule may be different. Take time, in the beginning, to figure out your “just right” amount of homeschooling time and the homeschool curriculum.
Teaching Hours: Homeschool vs. Traditional School
Don’t worry — this isn’t one of those debates about which is better. It is more about comparing apples to oranges. New homeschool families start their journeys out by thinking they have to homeschool seven hours a day because that is what traditional schools do. You can try to do seven hours a day, and it may work for your family; however, it is more unrealistic and not expected.
During a traditional school day, students are not actively learning for all seven hours. Instead, they are going to electives, having fire drills, lunch, recess, and taking bathroom breaks. Teachers are taking attendance and looking through homework assignments. Traditional school teachers do not teach seven hours a day, so homeschooling should not take seven hours a day.
Traditional school teachers have 25 or more students in a classroom that they need to keep in order. As a homeschooling parent, you won’t. All those students take more time. Homeschooling allows you to teach your child one-on-one or online homeschool courses, which is faster and more efficient. What might make a traditional teacher 45 minutes to explain to 25 students can you teach in 10 minutes to one student. Homeschooling will have few discipline problems and offer the flexibility of a different schedule day by day if needed.
Spending only three to four hours a day on homeschooling gives you flexibility in your day, which is beneficial to your children and yourself. It can create a less stressful atmosphere. If your child is a night owl, do homeschooling in the evenings. Morning people do homeschooling in the morning, and if you don’t want to do the math on Fridays because of the weekend, don’t do the math on Fridays. If you wish only to have a four-day school week instead of a five-day school week, you can.
You can even stagger your homeschool day based on your children’s preferences. For example, if one child prefers to do homeschool in the morning, you can give them one-on-one instruction while your other children still sleep. Then when another child wakes up, you can give them their one-on-one instruction. This enables the child to work at his/her best time. One downfall is that it will make the homeschool day a little longer for you, and you need to be very organized. Get a teacher planner or a homeschool planner to keep track of the lessons and progress that your child archives. The flexibility in homeschooling is very beneficial.
Homeschooling allows you to travel, go to appointments, and participate in other activities where learning occurs. Look for teachable moments in everything you do. A lesson can come from anywhere. Baking cookies can help teach measurement and fractions. A hike will give you opportunities to learn about ecosystems and botany. Playing a board game as a family will teach problem-solving skills and money skills. If you are traveling, even to and from the grocery store, listen to an audiobook, or have an older child read aloud. Then ask questions about the book. These teachable moments provide learning outside of your standard 3-4 hours/day.
No matter how much time you spend homeschooling, your homeschool day should always have a sustainable routine. This routine will help create a low-stress atmosphere and help the children know what to expect. Your homeschool day should include direct instruction, independent time, playtime, brain breaks, independent reading time, and elective time. The direct instruction time is when they are getting instruction from the parent/teacher. The independent time is when they are working on skills independently.
Kids learn a lot during imaginative playtime. ABCmouse offers a playful self-study computer game for kids between two and eight years old. They will learn problem-solving skills, creativity, and communication skills. Breaks are essential. As soon as you see your child unfocused, consider giving them a break to regain focus. Parents often forget to include independent reading on a homeschool day. This time is when kids should get to choose what books they read, and they read for fun.
During the elective time, students can play a sport, do an art project, take music lessons, or participate in homeschool co-op programs. If your homeschool day includes all of these activities, you will have no problem fulfilling your 3-4 hours.
Remember, the amount of time spent on homeschooling differs for every family. The average is 3-4 hours, but that doesn’t mean that is what you have to do. It depends on the child and age as to how much time you should spend homeschooling. Do expect to spend more time homeschooling the older your children get. A high school sophomore is going to require more time than a first-grader. Below is a chart that gives you an idea of developmentally appropriate homeschooling times.
|Grade Level||Suggested hours per day||Suggested days per week|
- Grade 2
|1 to 1 ½ hours||3 to 4 days per week|
|Grades 3 - 4||2 to 3 hours||4 days per week|
|Grades 5 - 6||3 to 4 hours||4 days per week|
|Grades 7 - 8||4 to 6 hours||5 days per week|
|Grades 9 - 10||5 to 6 hours||5 days per week|