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How many hours does it take to homeschool? This is the most common question I get asked. The answer is, it depends. It depends on your child’s age and where they are academically. But I will tell you this, the homeschool day can be done in far less time than a typical brick and mortar day.
I am a former teacher, as is my husband. We have always homeschooled our children, now in 5th, 3rd, and Kindergarten. Many people are shocked to learn that we do not spend the full 8 hours that brick and mortar schools do. Especially as former teachers, we have endured more than our fair share of gasps and shock from the uninitiated. While everyone’s day is going to look different, the time spent doing school work is more condensed. The one on one instruction allows us to cover more ground and ensure that our children have comprehension of the subject matter before we move forward. Also, no two days are exactly the same.
How many times have you heard someone say – “I missed a few days when I was sick with the flu and I was lost after that.” It happens to almost everyone. It happened to me! So before we move on, I make sure the concepts are solid.
Homeschool Hours By State
It is important to note that some states do have a requirement for “hours per day,” so please do your research first. We are in Florida so this is not an issue. We have a minimum of 180 days and are currently at 200, and we school year round. Also keep in mind that learning can take place anywhere. For example, on our family ride to grab an iced coffee this evening, I busted out facts about the Great Lakes. I would also like to note that it is Labor Day and a day off of school. But the kids enjoyed it, learned a lot (and it was a great refresher for my husband and myself!)
The beauty of homeschool is being creative, having fun and really nourishing the love for learning. I am a huge Usborne Books fan and recently stocked up. One of our favorite purchases has been 100 things to Know About History and Amazing Women – Over 100 lives to inspire you. I use these as a screen detox, after my kids pull their eyeballs off their PS4’s, we meet in the bedroom and just read and discuss facts. It is a great transition.
So, how many hours does it take to homeschool?
Here is a chart from the Illinois State Board of Education’s Remote Learning Recommendations. We school 4 days a week and are about spot on with this. Some days are shorter and some days are longer. Some days are an absolute struggle and those days feel like forever. But as with anything, some days will be good and some will be bad. Don’t let the thought of struggling with your child over schoolwork deter you. Experienced homeschoolers struggle with this. Brick and Mortar teachers struggle with this. Adults struggle. It is life.
Most of the time, if we drag out our school work, it only makes for a longer day and NO privileges until completed. We also take mental health days as needed. Some days are just off. Again, that is the beauty of homeschool. All of the work gets done but we also do focus on mental health, especially during these Covid times.
Jessica Parnell, the CEO of Edovate Learning Corp and homeschooling program Bridgeway Academy, told SheKnows,
We recommend that true home schoolers, spend about an hour to two hours a day for those elementary years, two to three hours a day for middle school, and three to four hours a day for high school.
Sample Homeschool Schedule
I do have a few sample homeschool schedules up, but now as a very experienced homeschool mom, I just know what we are doing. We start the day with reading, I usually read a story with breakfast and we do a chart (I use this amazing chart paper that I found for $7!). Then I move on to phonics, math, social studies and science. We don’t get to social studies or science everyday. And some days are longer on those subjects. For example, my 5th grader just finished up a unit on the election. Some days his work is only 5 minutes, other days it takes 45. It depends on what he is doing (essays take longer than word searches, for example). It is okay to have that flexibility as long as all the subject matter is covered.
How to Keep Track of School
When my children start a new school year, I create a new portfolio. I download the state standards for their grade level and put them in their binder. I mark each off as we progress and also make note if they struggle or it seemed too easy (this is helpful if you have younger kids too, because you can make adjustments when they get into that grade).
As I write this, we are still in the middle of Covid, so our schedule has changed. My kids now sleep in. We don’t have sports or scouts right now, so there is no obligation to finish. I let them swim before they start their school day. The schedule is a very, very loose schedule! Life in the slow lane has not been bad!
There is no real answer to the question: “How many hours does it take to homeschool?” It varies by family and student. Homeschooling has brought us so much joy and family time. I love watching those “I got it” moments and seeing the pride in their eyes when they accomplish something. I love helping them move past complicated subject matter and looking for creative ways to help them tackle those struggles. Sometimes a simple youtube video brings those “AH HA!” moments. Sometimes someone explaining it in a different way makes all the difference.
Being organized and having a routine that kids know they will stick to is important. For example, ours is 4 days a week: school, independent reading, chores, video games, dinner. On non-school days it’s the same, minus the school! It is doable and it is enjoyable. If you have any questions just drop them in the comment section and I will be happy to help!