Family life / Homeschooling

Choosing homeschooling: Schedules

One of the big topics, especially among homeschooling families, is “What does your school schedule look like?”

Families new to homeschooling and veteran families looking for a change want to know how many hours a day, days a week, weeks a year other families homeschool. They want to know who does year around schooling.

Every family is different, therefore every schedule is going to be a little bit different. However, no matter the dynamic of the homeschool family the schedule will probably not closely resemble a public school day. Do you know what would happen if you homeschooled from 8-11 break for lunch and then school from 12-3? Homeschool students would be totally overloaded by the end of the day from all of the work/information or they would complete a grade within 4-6 months.

Elementary school students do NOT need to be sitting still for that long trying to learn. Now, scattering lessons out throughout the day — yes. Sitting at a desk for hours at a time — no. As of right now, Josiah is doing about 45 minutes to an hour of sit down work a day. Some days that is too much. That hour includes the fact that we take “silly breaks” and he does 10 jumping jacks or hops around the room or we practice tossing and catching a ball for several minutes. A 5-year-old should not and cannot be expected to sit still and listen for more than 15 minutes.

Josiah is at the end of Kindergarten, getting prepped for first grade. With also having a 5-month-old I try to schedule things with a lot of flexibility. We do not plan to start school work at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and have lunch at 11:15 a.m. Whenever we get up in the morning Josiah has breakfast and gets to watch some TV — when we get up varies from day to day, but it is always somewhere between 8-9 a.m. Samuel gets ready to go back down for a nap sometime around 10:30; sometimes sooner sometimes later. When Samuel goes down for nap we start school work. We always go over the days of the week and the calendar stuff. Then I start in on lessons. What I start with varies. At this point, Math and Language are the only structured lessons I work on. Some days I do more of one than the other. We start out review from the previous day on the board and introduce a new topic (10 minutes tops). Once we do that, Josiah does some type of “active time” to transition to his desk. Then we work on a worksheet together as practice. Then we do some type of activity. It could be a craft, practicing with the ball, practicing a few martial arts moves (I have a 2nd degree blackbelt in Kempo Jui-Jitsu). Then we go back to the board for our next subject and repeat the process.

After that we do lunch. Then Josiah gets free play. He either plays in his toy room or goes outside. Once he starts getting restless from doing that, he takes a 30-60 minute break. During the break he can either lay down and read a book or lay down quietly and take a nap — it doesn’t matter as long as he’s laying down and quiet. After he’s done with that he starts on any chores he may have. Whenever he’s through with that we will either play a game, research an interesting topic in science that he likes, or he goes back to free play. Some days we go to the park and some days we go to the library.

The main thing is the schedule is very fluid and varies every day, but this is what our typical day looks like.

What about when he gets out of elementary and starts doing all four classes and adding electives? First, let’s breakdown the typical class hour at school:

  • Roll: 10 minutes
  • Collecting homework: 10 minutes
  • Lecturing/introducing topic: 15 minutes
  • Working on homework or reading textbook: 15 minutes

That is a typical way to get through a 50 minute class. Of course this is just a rough guestimate and times definitely vary, but as you can see 20 minutes of class is paperwork — taking roll and collecting papers. At home you don’t really have to do that. This means that essentially each class that a high school student has is only about 30 minutes of meat and potatoes class time. I’d argue that there’s actually only 15 minutes since that’s the time the teacher is actually teaching. Some days they teach a little longer or a little less. That means at home, I could get through 7 classes in roughly 3 1/2 hours.

The rest of our schedule is just as fluid as our daily one. We do structured learning 4 days a week — sometimes only 3 depending on the week. The days that we don’t we do other activities (see my post about the days Josiah doesn’t feel like doing school). On the days that we don’t do school work, Josiah is still learning — just not in a traditional sense. What makes it easier to do this is the fact that we have chosen to school year around with some breaks in between.

We took a week off for Josiah’s birthday. We will take a week off around Thanksgiving and a week off for Christmas. Aside from that with only doing school 3-4 days a week the 3 and 4 day weekends are enough of a break in between. In our family, if we go too long without school and structure chaos tends to takeover. No one knows what to do with themselves with those few open hours in the morning after a few days of freedom. I can’t imagine breaking for more than a week or two. We’d all go crazy.

Some people like to structure their schedules a lot more rigidly than ours. Some start school at 8 a.m. and do work until lunchtime at noon. Some take a break and keep doing school the rest of the day. Some people prefer to school 5 days a week and do three weeks on one week off. Some people just find it easier to go with the public school year and take summers off.

Some find that my schedule is too much structure for them. Some need more fluidity than my schedule allows and that’s OK. There isn’t really a right or wrong way to schedule homeschooling. When making a schedule a family just needs to make sure that there is time for play, time for rest, and time to learn what they need to be learning. No one knows how to balance that better than Mom and Dad. You know how long it takes for your child to pick up a new concept. You know how long your child can sit still and how many days your child can school before they need a break. Only you. Don’t worry about trying to conform to public school’s 8-3 schedule. Don’t worry about trying to follow anyone’s schedule. Do what works for you.


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