Does Homeschooling Really Have to Take All Day?

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It’s amazing how many people believe homeschooling needs to take all day.

After all the public school kids are in school from 9 to 3. However, homeschooling isn’t the same as teaching a classroom of kids. I always think of it as tutoring my children, which doesn’t take long at all.


My preschool kids spend 10-15 minutes homeschooling. We work on numbers and letters and call it good. Seriously that’s it for formal schooling.

What you don’t see is how we live our lives. I make playdough for the kids to play with. It’s great for fine motor coordination and entertains the little ones.

Finger paint or watercolors are pulled out for painting. The kids have coloring books and crayons. Paper is kept available so they can draw pictures.

We count cans as we shop, look at signs for numbers and letters. Draw sounds in the dirt with sticks. Play counting games.

Most of the learning at the preschool level happens during daily life.

Early Elementary

Early elementary kids take a little bit longer, usually 30 minutes to an hour. We spend time on phonics and handwriting. Math is done daily.

History, science, and art are covered on a rotating basis throughout the week.

Sometimes history, science, and art push our formal schooling hours over the hour mark. However, the kids never complain. They love reading stories of ancient events, doing experiments, and creating artwork.

When the formal school day is done, the kids rush off for their own activities. Kids curl up with books for an hour or two of quiet time. Puzzles are pulled out. Lego ships are built. Ants are hunted in the yard and followed back to their nests. Birds are studied.

The formal part of schooling only takes a short time, but hobbies, books, and activities fill the rest of the time.

Late Elementary

Late elementary kids work around two hours a day. We still sit down together for reading, writing, and math. The kids curl up and read history, study science, and create art.

My time spent with the kids actually remains about the same because late elementary children are beginning to read to learn. I assign books to read, stories to write, and experiments to be done independently.

The kids still have plenty of time in the day for their own activities, their books, puzzles, Legos, and hobbies.

Middle School

The time to homeschool middle school increases for the kids to three hours, although I’ve found my time remains relatively stable.

We sit down together to discuss Latin, math, grammar, science, and writing. Once a week we hold a formal discussion about history and literature.

The difference is the amount of studying the kids are able to complete independently. They no longer need me to hover over them watching each problem.

There is still plenty of time for activities and hobbies in the homeschool day.

High School

High school takes my kids 5-6 hours a day to complete as each subject requires about an hour of study each day. My time with the children takes a jump during freshman year as the kids adapt to the increased workload.

After that first year, my time plummets. By senior year they require very little time. The teenagers watch DVD lectures, read textbooks, write papers, and take tests. By this point, my kids have taken over the responsibility for their own education and I’ve turned from tutor to mentor.

High school can take much longer than the 5-6 hours I expect from my children. However, I’ve watched my own children use their extra time wisely. One son spent his time writing and editing books.

By the time he graduated he knew he wanted to write and had written 4 books.

My next son spends his extra time programming and studying scripts. He too is coming out of high school with a clear vision of what he wants to study over the next few years.

Homeschooling doesn’t take as long as people expect I’ve noticed. But learning doesn’t stop when the formal schooling stops. Kids of all ages spend time on educational hobbies, projects, and activities.

It's amazing how many people believe homeschooling must take all day. After all public school kids are in school 9 to 3. However homeschooling isn't the same.

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  1. What an informative post, Sara! This is truly eye-opening, especially for those who aren’t familiar with a homeschooling schedule at all (like me). I used to think that it takes all day, but you’re right there’s more that goes into it as well. Because homeschooling isn’t restricted within the confines of a classroom, learning happens while running errands or taking a trip to the park! And what a wonderful environment to learn in. Thanks so much for sharing this on #SHINEbloghop this week!

  2. Amazing write up Sarah! When we first started homeschooling we did too much and days were long and challenging. Now we run a smoother schedule with time frames about where you are. I have three in school, 1 early elementary and 2 middle school. Two of the kids have school related extra-curricular activities that sometimes made our days run longer simply bc of the times they are at. I do aim to have the youngest work in the morning, touching base with the older kids when I can. And the afternoon is fir helping the older two. And if they run too long I will tell them to take a break. Learning can always happen later.

  3. This is so true! Learning at home doesn’t take anywhere near as long as learning in a school setting. And you’re right – our goal should be to work ourselves out of a job. People always ask me if homeschooling is getting harder now that my boys are older and I say, “No, it’s actually getting easier… for me, anyway.”

  4. I’ll be starting on the homeschool adventure this Fall. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing all this information with me. Learning from those who’ve gone before me makes the process much less daunting!

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