When we first started homeschooling, I was stuck in my “classroom teacher” mindset. People would ask, “So, how long does a typical homeschool day last?” And I’d be ready with my standard teacher-training answer, because I thought that’s what a day of education was. I thought we needed a hard start time and a hard stop time…about 6 hours apart. 30 minutes for lunch, 10 minutes twice a day for recess, and through in a handful of specials like music and art. Time to line up to go to the bathroom, kids! (Okay, I wasn’t really that bad, but I did think it.)
I’d read books about things like the Montessori method of homeschooling and relaxed homeschooling and then those crazy rebels…the Unschoolers. How anyone could be that relaxed about something so important was beyond me. Annnnnd then I learned.
See, the beauty of homeschooling is in its flexibility. It’s in the structure, but not the oppression. It’s in the freedom to use the bathroom whenever you want, spend three hours on the sofa reading picture books, and in creating an indoor picnic lunch under the dining room table. Homeschooling is not a typical day in the classroom.
How Long Does a Homeschool Day Last?
So, how long does a homeschool day last? Well, it varies.
For my oldest in seventh grade, he typically starts working around 8am and finishes somewhere between 2pm and 4pm. He has a tutor that comes to the house four days a week in the afternoon, so that takes up school time, as well. There is usually an hour lunch break and stretches throughout the day to break up the lessons. It may take him until the afternoon to finish, but his work is done at his pace…and that’s key.
Overall School Day: 6-8 hours
The fifth grader prefers to start early, work hard, and be done as soon as possible. He starts the day around 8-8:30am and is almost always done by noon. He works straight through and rarely even takes a break for the bathroom.
He saves his reading for last, because he likes to stretch out on his bed and read his Harry Potter
book without the pressure of other assignments hanging over his head. I once asked him if reading was his reward to himself after he’d completed his work and he looked at me as if I was insane. “Reading? A reward? Surely never, Mom!” But I still think it is…it is for me when I finish my work!
Overall School Day: 4 hours
The youngest is the complete opposite of her brothers this year. She likes her morning down time and gets her “school wind” around 1pm. She typically works from 1pm – 4pm on her core subjects, but likes to do her reading in the morning. If I’m teaching a class in the morning, she always attends those online too. Her morning usually consists of craft activities and projects that she has created, as well as copious amounts of singing and music. Mornings tend to be loud here which explains my need for a gallon of coffee before noon.
Overall School Day: 3 hours
Some days are longer, some days are shorter, but every day is the time needed for those lessons for each child on that particular day. Even when we were doing kindergarten at home, the average day was different. While it always lasted at least an hour, some days we whipped through the “must-do” work and spent the remainder of the time playing with cars or blocks – counting, sorting, subtracting, adding, imagining.
Mama, if you are concerned about how long your school day lasts, because you are still in that public school day mindset, I encourage you to take a deep breath and relax. In homeschooling, you’re able to get so much done, because your time is spent mostly teaching 1-on-1. You’re not addressing a classroom of 25 students of varying levels and behaviors. You’re teaching one child, face-to-face and helping him understand each concept. If it takes him 5 minutes to grasp the concept, so be it. If it takes him an hour to grasp the concept, you have the time. Your school day will be determined by what your child needs each day.
It’s entirely okay to have a set start time, but it’s also entirely okay not to. While the typical homeschool day can last anywhere between 1 and 8 hours, your school day will be what works for you. If you’re worried that you’re not doing enough, spend time snuggling and reading books, take a walk and look at the nature around you, jump up and put on Just Dance for a mood-boosting PE lesson. And if it makes you feel better, have everyone practice walking in a line around the house…just don’t forget to do it with style and make it a fun game of Follow the Leader.
You’re doing just fine, Mama.