One of the questions most often asked by many new homeschool families is, “How many hours is a typical homeschool day?” When it comes to independent study and a non-traditional school setting, the answer to that is different for every family, and it is likely different depending on what day of the week it is!
Obviously, the age, skill level, learning styles, attention spans, and the amount of children at home are all contributing factors and when evaluating your homeschool day to see if you’re doing too much or too little, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. You Can’t Compare Apples And Oranges
While most states require 180 school days a year, don’t compare a “typical” homeschool/independent study day to a “typical” traditional school day. In a traditional school setting, a child is in attendance for 6-7 hours a day, but not every minute of that is time spent actually teaching. You most likely don’t have 34 students to wrangle in your school day and though you both will deal with discipline issues, you aren’t required to take attendance, check homework, attend assemblies and fire drills, computer class, etc. So, the actual school day will be shorter.
Keep in mind that focused one-on-one instruction will be quicker and more efficient than group instruction and actual teaching time will vary by student, family and ability levels. Budget an average of 3-4 hours a day of school time; some days will be less, some may be more. The younger the students are, the shorter the focused instruction time will be. Aim for a well-rounded school day with some direct instruction, independent work time, play time, free reading, and electives (music instrument practice, karate lesson, art projects, etc).
2. The Gift of Flexibility
The beauty and gift of independent study is in the flexibility. Last year, my daughter and I spent two weeks in China where she not only was able to experience another culture but didn’t miss a day of school because we brought it with us.
There isn’t a school bell when it comes to homeschooling and you don’t need one. If your family are night owls, do school at night. If everyone functions the best in the morning, get all the schoolwork done by noon. If it works better for your family to do formal instruction only 4 days a week and take one day a week to go on an educational field trip, then, by all means, enjoy the flexibility!
In the traditional school setting, the teacher covers every subject every day. You, as the homeschool parent are able to rearrange your schedule to what works best for your child. With the personalized learning plan that your Epic Teacher worked with you to create, you’re able to focus more on areas that your child needs and less on what they have already mastered. You’re also able to go more in depth into subjects and topics that interest your child and get more creative on using the world as your classroom. That’s the great part about self-paced learning.
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3. Learning Happens All The Time
As a homeschool parent, always be looking out for teachable moments. Baking cookies can easily turn into a lesson on fractions or units of measurement. A discussion on physics or structural engineering can center around a family game of Jenga. On trips to the grocery store or dentist, listen to audiobooks or have an older child read aloud to you. Learning can take place all the time, not just during “official” school hours.
You cannot actually measure exactly how many hours and how much learning is taking place each and every day – even on the weekends! Remember that learning and education is not just doing workbooks and math equations at a desk (or the kitchen table), Monday through Friday.
Teach your children to be lifelong learners and when someone asks how many hours a day you spend homeschooling, you can honestly tell them that teaching your children is a 24/7 job!