Every new homeschool mom has visions of hours and hours of their children sitting in chairs around the dining room table “doing school.” The main reason for this idea is due to our only example, public school, where the better part of 8 hours a day is spent in some form of seatwork. When we start formulating lesson plans and daily schedules, we end up modeling them after this public school example. In essence, we end up with School At Home, rather than HomeSchool.
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Even after we realize we should not be modeling our school after traditional public school, it remains one of the top homeschool mom fears…
Are they getting enough hours in?
Granted, most of our states have some sort of guideline that sounds something like this:
Student attendance must be equivalent to the public school’s (i.e. 186 days per year, 1116 hours per year).
Just looking at those numbers can send shivers down your spine!
But, let me break this down for you and show you the reality behind these numbers and how you can stay sane through it all…
1. Many states that require the above attendance do not require you actually keep track of it.
Yes, it is a good idea to have some sort of record showing your child actually does do some form of schoolwork, but to account for every single hour isn’t necessary. If you still feel you need to have an attendance record, then make a spreadsheet with 186 boxes and every day you do school, write in the date. However, this leads me to my next point…
2. School hours for a homeschooler look MUCH different than they do for a public schooled child.
Nearly every single day is caught up in some form of teaching my children. Food preparation involves math, character lessons, nutrition, not to mention home ec. Playing outside often involves a science lesson. Even taking the children to the store offers a myriad of opportunities to educate. NONE of these LOOK like traditional school, yet they count. (Read more about what daily activities count as school here.)
Before you balk at what I just said, let me give you some perspective…
3. If the public school can count standing in the line at the water fountain as “school hours”, then I can count the children sorting the recycling as school hours.
The 186 days and 1116 hours are a guideline. Your children are not expected to be sitting in a seat for 6 hours a day doing workbooks. That would force the state to hold a double standard that wouldn’t hold a candle in court.
Speaking of court…
4. Get an HSLDA membership…just in case.
Most homeschool parents are responsible to a fault. They have kept records and papers and know their child’s aptitudes and weaknesses like they know their own. However, court can be ugly and a little piece of mind can go a long way. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) IS that piece of mind. Plus, they have a plethora of FREE information for their members that makes the annual fee well worth it.
OK, so all that said, how many hours does it take to homeschool…to really crack open the books and “do school?”
(how’s that for non-committal?)
For our family, it looks a little something like this:
Kindergarten & 1st grade: 30-45 mins
2nd-4th: 1½-2 hrs
5th-6th: 2-4 hrs
7th-up: 4+ hrs
The hours all depend on the age of the child and the amount of “bookwork” you as the parent require. Our youngers do only Phonics and math. (Read more about how we homeschool our preschool and kindergartners.) Our elementary students do math, handwriting, a little grammar, reading, and participate in things the older children are doing. Our middlers are adding more strenuous assignments, and our oldest children (only one so far) are independently working toward high school credits. (For more specific information on our homeschool, visit The Homeschooling Mother section of this blog.)
The rest of the hours are filled in with life-learning. In fact, I’d venture to guess we put in WAY more than 6 hours a day, 9 months out of the year.
So, I’d encourage you to stop stressing about those days and hours and create a home atmosphere filled with rich learning opportunities. Teach your children to love learning. From there, the hours will fill themselves in.
If you are struggling to figure out how to make your homeschool less “schoolish”, I highly recommend this wonderful video series: Homeschool Made Simple – it will give you perspective and encouragement to be the homeschooling mother you want to be!