Homeschool Scheduling Questions
Common questions for new homeschoolers over schedules are:
- how long do you school every day?
- do I have to follow the public school calendar?
- how long should I spend on spelling/math/science/whatever?
- how many days a week do I do history/grammar/spanish/whatever?
Homeschool Doesn’t Look Like Public School
This is the beauty of home schooling. It does NOT need to look like public school. You can help your son with his science experiment while you’re making dinner. You can drill your daughter’s spelling list on the way to the grocery store. We fit it in around our lives and activities.
We all know learning can happen everywhere, and it doesn’t always mean reading a textbook or answering questions in a workbook. Many people have a philosophy of no formal academics at all, unless the child requests it. But even if you do choose to use some combination of workbooks or textbooks or lessons, you can still experience the flexibility of homeschooling.
School happens.. whenever, wherever and however you need it to. Whether you spend 2 hours on math one day, and whip through all your lesson plans in 3 hours the next, it’s all normal. I know one mom who is a dance teacher, and her own children will do their school work in another room, while she’s teaching. My oldest did math, reading, writing, and Bible study on a trip to my 2nd’s specialists’ appointments. My middle kids brought their school work with us to my chiropractor’s appointment.
There seems to be this need for an artificial separation between home and work and school. But as my business grows, there is no set-apart time. It’s all blended together. I write blog posts while my children are scattered around the house — one working on her math on the couch, one at the table working on an art project, a third and fourth working together to clean up their room, and the fifth is in her room playing a game. We are a family, and everything — work, parenting, cleaning, homeschooling — everything happens together.
So do you spend 2 hours on a math lesson? If that’s what it takes to learn it the concept (and if your student is simply being a rebellious kid, it becomes a parenting moment more than a school moment). Do you alternate history and science and geography? Sure. Or you can do them all at once. Or back-t0-back. Or however suits your family.
A Look at One Homeschool Schedule
Here’s what our tentative school schedule looks like, for your convenience:
- We school year round, January to December.
- We take a 3-6 week break approximately every 3 months. These big breaks usually coincide with Christmas, Easter and a summer break around mid July/August.
- We take a 1 week break approximately every 6 weeks. These little breaks usually coincide with our Canadian Thanksgiving (October), Valentine’s Day, and one long weekend in May/June-ish.
- We school 4 days a week, fitting in as necessary on the 5th day anything extra.
- We have no set time for school, as the list of assigned lessons is posted along with their chores, and as long as the list is completed by the end of the week, I’m fine with it. I help as wanted, direct as needed, and remind frequently.
- School work sometimes gets done before breakfast, sometimes after supper, sometimes in the car and sometimes at the kitchen table. While we have a “school room” where all the books and craft supplies and extra paper and pencils are kept, it’s rare that school work actually happens there.
How long should school take every day?
Typically, a good rule of thumb is that formal seat work should amount to +20 min per grade level. You can start with 20 minutes of book work in preschool — 5 minutes spent on coloring, 5 minutes spent reading a story, 5 minutes spent in tracing numbers, letters or their name, and 5 minutes of flashcards or other game, and not all back-to-back. By the time you get to 4th grade, your student should have approximately 2 hours of seat work to do. A middle school child will have around 3 hours, and high school will take between 4-6 hours. This is just a guideline, of course, and your mileage may vary.
Completely under your control
Homeschooling schedules and timing are completely under your control. Sometimes us public-schooled parents forget that the majority of the time children are in school, they are waiting. Waiting for everyone to get into line, waiting for the teacher to come answer their question, waiting for the test to be handed out, waiting for their friends to finish their lunch.. a lot of time is wasted by waiting. When your student doesn’t have to wait, the school work doesn’t actually take that long. Just think of the freedom you have when you don’t have to spend hours and hours in one place waiting! Your children will thank you for the free time to play, create, move, and grow.