“How long is a homeschool day supposed to be?”
Every few episodes, Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella answer listeners’ questions on The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. For answers to your homeschooling questions, listen to the podcast or visit our Homeschool Answers YouTube playlist. You can even submit your own questions on the Schoolhouse Rocked Facebook page.
Yvette Hampton: A listener asks, “How long is a homeschool day supposed to be?” So Aby, how much time should a family spend homeschooling each day?
Aby Rinella: Okay, your homeschool day is as long as it needs to be for your family. The answer is not going to be “as long as a public school day.” I’ll tell you that.
Yvette Hampton: Right. Now, explain that real quick, because you were a public school teacher, so I want you to unpack that a little bit.
Aby Rinella: Okay, so let’s say my class started at 8:00 and we got out at 2:30. It’s different at different schools, but that’s a long day. But let me tell you what that day was filled with; 23 kids getting their snow clothes on and off. It was filled with bathroom breaks and it was filled with helping one kid while the rest of the kids waited. It was filled with trying to walk in a line 58,000 times to get to music class. It was filled with all of these things that we, as parents at home, don’t have to think about or worry about. So your homeschool day is going to look different based on how long it takes your kid to accomplish whatever it is that you, as the parent, have set out for them to accomplish.
That looks different at different ages and in different seasons of life, but if you are doing five hours of kindergarten, you need to stop it!
Yvette Hampton: You’re doing too much.
Aby Rinella: You need to knock it off. So many parents ask this question. The thing that we fall into as parents is to think, “I’m not doing enough because this is only taking two hours” and I want to say, “It really shouldn’t take much more than that in those elementary years.” Honestly, it’s that you have been programmed to think that a school day is eight hours or seven hours and that is absolutely not the case with homeschool.
“I used to get so frustrated because we would get up and we would do our morning chores and we would do all this stuff that needed to be done in the morning and then by the time everybody was up and ready and moving, it was 11 or 12.”
Yvette Hampton: Right. And it depends how you define homeschool day, because for our family, I used to get so frustrated because we would get up and we would do our morning chores and we would do all this stuff that needed to be done in the morning and then by the time everybody was up and ready and moving, it was 11 or 12! It’s typically 11 or 12 before we’re really into our schooling academics.
Aby Rinella: Your academic studies, yeah.
Yvette Hampton: Until we’re actually doing math and science, but part of that morning time we’re doing morning basket and we’re reading together and sometimes we’re playing games. The other day we sat and played googly eyes for 45 minutes and we’ll play Yahtzee. That’s all just part of life. Sometimes we go grocery shopping. Last week, I got my girls up one day and I was like, “We’re going to go get donuts this morning!“ And it’s shocking how quickly they will get up and ready when you say the word donuts! Anyway, that’s a different topic.
Life is part of homeschooling and so how are you defining your homeschool day really matters, because there are often days where we’re still doing history or science or math or any of those things until five o’clock in the evening, sometimes six o’clock in the evening, but we have done a whole lot of other stuff through the day. It’s not like they have been sitting at the table from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM doing schoolwork.
Aby Rinella: Exactly.
Yvette Hampton: We’ve done it kind of sporadically, throughout the day because we’ve had interruptions and stuff, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling. That’s how our family works.
Aby Rinella: Yeah, and that’s really the beauty of homeschool freedom. And that’s what really is important, is the freedom that we have as parents to make those schedules and to be interrupted because really it’s not an interruption, it’s life. And so, every family’s homeschool day is going to look different, so try to get out the box of thinking your day should look like a typical school day. The worst thing you can do as a homeschool mom is make your home look like the public school.
Yvette Hampton: Right.
Aby Rinella: That’s not what we’re trying to do.
Yvette Hampton: Or make your homeschool look like your neighbor’s homeschool or your friend’s homeschool, because Aby, you and I are very different…
Aby Rinella: Very different.
Yvette Hampton: In the way that we schedule our days. I mean, you kind of get up and get going with your kids and you guys are done earlier than us. You’re two hours behind us and you’re probably done before we are and that’s okay. It’s just how our family works.
Aby Rinella: And here’s the thing, it’s going to change. You might have teenagers who have a job to get to, so they need to do school at a different time of day. Look at your family and go to the Lord seek His wisdom on how your day should be scheduled.
Yvette Hampton: Right, and do what works best so that you and your children are not constantly stressed out and on edge all day long.
Aby Rinella: Totally.
Yvette Hampton: Like you said, it depends on the age of your kids. I have a high schooler now, so academics have gotten a whole lot more serious this year than they have been in the past and my youngest is in fourth grade and so she’s getting a little bit more serious about her academics as well.
Aby Rinella: I think one of the greatest things we could do is throw away the clock and do school based on how long your kids’ attention span is. This may not always be possible, because we live in the real world, but we get bogged down by the clock.
Jesse and I lived off the grid for a while and we got rid of our clock for about a year. And you know what, we worked when the sun came up, we ate when we were hungry, we stopped when the day was done and the stress level went away.I know we can’t do that now, but if you could just hide the clock while you’re doing your school day, and as long as your kids are engaged, keep them there. When they’re done, quit. Don’t let the clock rule your homeschool day!