One of the most popular questions I receive from non-homeschoolers is:
How much time does homeschooling take?
This is a tricky question for me to answer because no two days are the same around here. And, truly, that’s what I love about homeschooling. It is fluid and interesting and constantly evolving into something else.
Put simply: homeschooling is a journey.
But, today I’m going to talk about how much time homeschooling takes over here.
How Much Time Does Homeschooling Really Take?
I’m going to attempt to describe typical days over here, but the days vary. Sometimes, homeschooling goes by in a blink. Other times, homeschooling drags on all day long. More often, it is somewhere in between.
- Adequate caffeine
If one member of our party wakes up in a foul mood, that mood impacts everyone else and homeschooling tends to go more slowly. If the kids see something exciting listed in their homeschool notebooks, they are more likely to power through and complete tasks quickly. If we have amazing weather, whether it is a gorgeous summer day or freshly fallen snow, we tend to ditch the books early and head outdoors.
Shake off the public school mindset
When I first imagined myself homeschooling, I assumed that we would have a schedule and that we would sit around the kitchen table and I would teach lessons and the kids would complete their assignments in an orderly manner. I imagined lesson planning and homework assignments and correcting papers.
Basically, I was picturing public school… in my home.
It took me a few months to realize that school and learning are two separate entities.
- You can attend school and learn very little.
I’ve witnessed this happen twice now. First with my oldest son and then again with my daughter. And this is the reason why I did not register our youngest for kindergarten next year. I’m not waiting for a third strike.
- You can leave school and learn an incredible amount in short time.
Once you relax and get used to homeschooling, you realize that learning happens all the time. You see every task through a different lens and life becomes educational, in a way that it wasn’t before.
Once you break free of that public school mindset, you see that homeschooling doesn’t have to look anything like the school of your youth!
My planning is super-simple.
About a year ago, I read this fantastic post from Sarah McKenzie of Amongst Lovely Things about using spiral notebooks in your homeschool. I started using it that very day and it has revolutionized our homeschool. The only problem was, my oldest is rough on … well… everything and his spiral notebook barely survived the school year (and we hadn’t even used it all year!). So this year I purchased these Mead K-2 composition notebooks for each of my children and continued with Sarah’s plan.
Writing the next day’s plan in the kids’ notebooks probably takes me five or six minutes.
Every evening, once the kids are in bed, I head to the couch with the kids’ notebooks. On a new page, I write the next day’s date and list that day’s “Must-Dos”, any chores that need to be completed, and ideas for “Bonus” activities. I put a box beside each item so that the kids can check them off when complete. I love that everything is in one place. The notebooks help my children to learn organization and planning. It gives them a sense of satisfaction to check off completed tasks. It also cuts down on parental harping, as I can just say, “It’s in your notebook!” It is also a great space for the kids to write down some of the books they read aloud to each other that day. And… the best part? These notebooks are fantastic additions to our year-end homeschool portfolios!
In addition to Sarah’s spiral notebook system, I rely heavily on two other things:
- Well-thought out read alouds
Read alouds are the spine of our homeschool. I find that I can incorporate virtually any topic or school subject in this manner. This is a great way to homeschool when you have a non-reader in your fold. By reading aloud, all three children are exposed to the same information, regardless of reading level. I try to take my time during our read alouds. I will pause to answer questions and we’ll often pull up Google or a YouTube video if need be. So much learning happens when we are reading together. We go to the library at least once a week and I select our read alouds during this visit. I try to grab books that are, in some way, related to our current chapter book. This doesn’t take much planning at all- I just pick what looks good.
I’m also a huge fan of strewing. If we are learning about a certain topic, I’ll carefully select books from the library and then leave them out for my children to discover. I do the same with activities, toys, puzzles, and games. Strewing provides children with an invitation to explore, without any outside demand. It is natural learning at its finest and it takes very little planning. Are you reading Rosie Revere Engineer? Why not leave out a tinker kit and The New Way Things Work? Then, let the child do the rest!
Every day, my children are expected to complete their “Must Dos”. The Must-Dos include:
My oldest’s Must-Dos also include piano and Spanish.
On a typical day, we start our Must-Dos right during breakfast and we wrap up around lunch. This leaves the afternoon free for activities, additional school subjects, time with friends, or nothing at all. Sometimes, we have a magical day and the Must-Dos are done well before lunch. Other days, we barely finish by dinner.
Some days, homeschooling gets ugly and we throw in the towel and start fresh the next day.
Learning all the time
On the one hand, homeschooling takes less time than public school because you have the ability to homeschool in a one-on-one setting, catering to the individual student’s learning style.
On the other hand, the learning takes far longer than a public school day because it never stops. Now that I am homeschooling, I look at everything differently. Even the most mundane of tasks, like laundry, is seen as an educational opportunity.
A Homeschool Day in the Life
If you’d like to have a closer look at what our homeschool days look like over here, check out my Simple Homeschool Day in the Life post and these days from the past: