What homeschoolers do all day is as varied as the number of homeschooling families.
Maybe you think homeschoolers begin their academics the second the big yellow bus rolls by. Subjects change when the mother, referred to only as “Mrs. Jones” during school hours, rings the bell. Other than a 22-minute lunch break, studies continue until that same bus brings the neighborhood children back home. On the other hand, you might think that homeschoolers sleep until noon and then spend the remainder of the day in their pajamas in front of the television, snacking on popcorn. Hopefully, neither case is accurate. Consider the following real-life examples from the perspective of a homeschooling parent:
8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. – Try desperately to maintain sanity while caring for a five-year-old and two-year-old during a difficult pregnancy.
6:00-9:00 p.m. – Now that Dad is home to entertain the two-year-old, complete all kindergarten subjects with the five-year-old.
9:00 p.m.-midnight – Get the kids to bed, try to do a little planning, and collapse into bed crying.
8:00 a.m. – Start the school day with prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and calendar.
8:10 a.m. – Continue unit studies with the family.
10:00 a.m. – Take a quick morning break.
10:15 a.m. – Work with each child on individual subjects.
Noon – Prepare and eat lunch.
1:00 p.m. – Continue working on individual subjects.
3:30 p.m. – Take children to dance classes or piano lessons.
6:00-10:00 p.m. – Prepare and eat supper, baths, bedtime stories, and complete some grading and planning.
9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. – Circulate between adolescent/pre-adolescent children, providing direction and teaching as needed.
2:00-5:30 p.m. – Take two children to local school for participation in varsity softball game.
5:30-7:00 p.m. – Dad takes one child home while Mom and other child rush through a drive-thru for supper and drive 50 miles to travel softball team practice. Child reads on the way to practice.
7:00-9:00 p.m. – Mom grades and plans during softball practice.
9:00-10:00 p.m.-Drive home from travel softball practice, discussing topics from that day’s studies.
In reviewing these schedules, you may have formed some opinion as to which parent is providing the best education or better has her “act together.” Actually, all three examples are of my own family at different stages of our homeschooling journey.
Homeschool Schedule Considerations
While there are definitely exceptions, the vast majority of families choosing to educate at home do so because they have their child’s and family’s best interests at heart. However, because each family and each child is different, what that education will entail each day is going to be different as well. Here are a few considerations in determining what your family “should” be doing each day:
1. You can generally accomplish more in less time homeschooling than in a traditional classroom. Studies show that time on task—time actually spent engaged in learning—ranges between 42% and 71% in the classroom. (Source 1)(Source 2) Despite the occasional distractions, it does not take a traditional school day to produce meaningful learning in a home setting.
2. Learning can and does take place at all hours of the day. When I was pregnant with my third child, evenings were when I felt the best. With a rambunctious two-year-old, it worked better to have our focused learning then while Dad was home to help out. Your teenager might function better being left to sleep until 9:00 in the morning instead of insisting he be up at 6:00.
3. Learning can and does take place beyond books and worksheets. Nature walks, field trips, even grocery shopping can provide teachable moments. Remember, you are growing your child’s character as well as her mind.
4. Effective homeschooling requires planning. While what you do all day as a homeschooler may differ from what your support group leader does, you still need to know what you hope to accomplish and the resources with which you are working.
5. Effective homeschooling requires scheduling. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to map out every hour of every day; however, you do need to establish some realistic guidelines.
6. Effective homeschooling requires evaluation and flexibility. Goals change, curricula changes, work schedules change, individual and family needs change. What you did one day may not work for you the next day. You do not have to continue doing something just because that’s what you’ve always done!
Regardless of the preconceived notions you or those around you might have, with a little bit of soul-searching and effort, you can schedule your homeschooling day in a way that works for you.