How long does it take?
How long do you do “school” every day? Do you even do “school” daily? Do you follow a public school calendar? Should we do every subject every day? How long should math take? Or spelling? What is a typical homeschool schedule anyway?
These are common questions for the new homeschooler. The answers will be different for every family! The truth is, unless where you live has rules around attendance, you can customize your schedule to fit your lifestyle. The beauty of homeschooling is it’s flexibility.
Here’s a quick overview of a week in the life of my family (in 2017):
I was gone all day with gymnastics, a class I’m teaching (on Canada, for JK-Gr 3), and then I had a support group meeting that evening.
My oldest had a book club meeting and swim class, and that night the 4 youngest had an evening church program. While my oldest was at book club, the younger kids and I did an afternoon at the park, when naptime in the van didn’t happen. Because naptime didn’t happen, my youngest fell asleep on the way from swim class to supper.. missed dinner, and ended up home with my oldest instead of her program. Oh well.
I met with my 2nd daughter’s psychologist and developmental pediatrician, which is an all day trip, because it’s an hour’s drive one-way. The other kids did school at home with their father. That evening, the 4 youngest went with their father to a BBQ while my oldest had Cadets. While waiting for my oldest, I was working with some new clients.
After working on school all morning, the 4 youngest had swim class that afternoon, back-to-back, and I basically did a rotation through the showers. That took 2 hours to get all done, but then I was able to focus that evening on work for my clients.
This week, in between classes and meetings, I worked, planned school, and kept up on my blogs. I also did umpteen loads of laundry (since in Canada, we need different wardrobes for summer and winter, I currently have clothes *all over* while I’m switching), cleaned the bathroom, changed the kitty litter, checked on all the kids’ chores, made dinner almost every day, meal planned and chore planned, and ordered ink for my printer.
A typical homeschool schedule?
School can happen.. whenever, where-ever 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.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an alternative educational choice.
This is the perfection 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.
There’s no need to separate.
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-to-back. Or however suits your family.
Here’s what our tentative school schedule looks like:
- 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 generally do school between breakfast and lunch.
- 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.
A rule of thumb for time spent in homeschool:
So what does a typical homeschool schedule look like? A good rule of thumb is that formal seat work (not all learning activity!) should amount to +20 min per grade level. You can start with 20 minutes of book work in preschool. This might be 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 may have approximately 2 hours of seat work to do.
A middle school child might have have around 3 hours, and high school may take between 4-6 hours. This is just a guideline, of course, and your mileage may vary.
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.
A typical homeschool schedule is whatever you want it to be!
I really like how you talk about integrating learning and life. It’s so hard to help people see that that really does work. My daughter is considering homeschooling her 5 year old, so I’ll be sharing this with her and her hubby. Thank you!