As parents (and moms in particular) a major part of the gig seems to be worry. We worry constantly about every little thing in our children’s life. Are they eating the right foods? Did they brush their teeth well enough? Did WE brush their teeth well enough? Did that head scratch mean lice? What’s the bruise from? Is the house clean enough? Am I spending enough time with them? We spend so much time worrying about them that sometimes screw ups happen because we were concentrating on something else (the worry) and then we REALLY beat ourselves up!
This worry carries on to their school years, are they doing well enough? How do they compare to their peers? There’s worry about them being in school, and there’s worry when you decide to take on their learning yourself. Are you smart enough? Are they getting everything they need? Are they socializing?! (ugh!)
This has been a long winded way to say, something that homeschool parents worry about often, is how much time should we spend ‘doing school’ each day?
The thing about homeschooling is that you never really shut it off. As you first start out, you might really feel like you do. And obviously if you teach from books, there’s a point where the books are open, and a point where they are shut. But the learning never really ends. Learning happens in the kitchen, the doctor’s office, the store, on walks and in play. Even on summer break we’re still learning and finding new things about the world every single day. Even when we don’t really mean to.
It depends on grade level.
Younger kids just don’t have the attention span of older kids. You probably see this when your toddler spends two minutes enthralled with a lady bug crawling on the floor, and the next thing you know they are flushing the pearls down the toilet. They switch up quickly. You should find that every year that you spend with them, their attention slowly expands. This might be by only a couple minutes each year, to 30 minutes or so. Don’t expect your 3 year old to sit down for an hour (or even half an hour) and do a particular activity. Some days they might surprise you and do just that. Other days you’ll be lucky to get 5 minutes out of them. It’s all normal, and it’s perfectly fine!
Just work on the important stuff.
Before hitting the high school years, do not spend time each day worrying about every single subject. Homeschool learning is very concentrated compared to school learning. If your child is able, you can get work done in half the time it takes school kids. This is mainly because you won’t be spending the same amount of time doing class room management tasks that a teach has to do for more than 20 kids. So each day we work on our dedicated subjects and everything else is just filler. They are really interested in diving more in depth into what you’re studying in history? Or maybe they really love math and want more practice problems? They can do that after the important stuff gets done, and if you allow them time to chase their interests, they’ll take care of all that extra stuff for you. Most days you won’t need to spend a whole hour dedicated to a subject except in the rare instances of them being REALLY interested in the subject (in which case, they can usually lead themselves) or if they have a hard time with what you’re working on.
Take breaks to get the wiggles out!
Even the big kids will need to do this through the day. But if your lower elementary child is having a hard time concentrating take time and go outside, have a dance party, do kids yoga, let them get those wiggles out and they are more likely to sit still for a few more minutes to finish out the school day!
So how much time SHOULD you spend homeschooling each day?
I won’t say much for the grades that I haven’t taught yet, but so far in my experience:
Pre K- 5-10 minutes daily. Reading, coloring, drawing, singing. It’s a very organic learning time, but 5-10 minutes of more concentrated learning is usually achievable.
Kindergarten- 20 minutes maximum most days.
1st grade: 1 hour max.
2nd grade: 2 hours max (though many days you won’t actually need that amount of time depending on curriculum.)
If you are using a curriculum and you find that you go below these time frames, but you feel they are retaining a good amount of what they are being taught, don’t sweat it! If your child seems bored, give them extra books to read, or documentaries to watch, have them draw pictures about the different things you learned about, or make journal entries to help you fill in more time. I feel like some days I spend most of my time on homeschool, and other days we’re done in less than an hour. It really depends on your curriculum, on your kids, and on you! If you see that they are learning, and every day you seem to make some kind of gain in their learning, then don’t sweat it! There’s plenty of other things to worry about in your day!
Until next time friends!