One of the most popular posts here on Raising Arrows came from people searching how long it takes to homeschool and landing on this post:
I wanted to elaborate a bit on the above post by addressing how long individual lessons take because I had a reader ask how I handle timing for each lesson.
Unlike public school, homeschooling does not have a bell to tell you to stop one subject and move rooms and teachers to start the next subject (although I do have a dinner bell to let people know when a meal is being served!).
We also don’t have homework because it is all HOMEwork, and we keep working until we are finished. There isn’t any “leftover” work that needs to be completed before the next school day, and there are rarely extended assignments before junior high or high school age.
So, let’s talk about how long homeschool lessons actually take. I’ll separate the lessons out by stages to make it easier to find where you are at in your homeschooling journey. I also welcome you to lend your own thoughts and experiences to the comments section of this post – we can learn from each other!
Notes: I have subjects separated by “basic” – which means the barebones of what should be taught to that age group – and “extra” – which means the additional subjects that could comprise your child’s homeschool day. If you’ve read my other post on how long a homeschool day should be, you know that I hold a philosophy of very little “seat work”, especially for young children. Things that I consider to be essential to homeschooling (intelligent conversations, reading aloud, Bible and discipleship) are not included here because I do not consider them “subjects” but rather part of a well-rounded LIFE.
Math = no more than 30 minutes
Phonics = no more than 30 minutes (Once the basic mechanics are in place, switch this to a required Reading Time of 15 minutes – more if they like.)
Handwriting/Copywork = no more than 10 minutes (do not do if any other subject requires a lot of writing that day).
Science = no more than 20 minutes formal (and as much informal as they like – exploring, observing, etc)
Grammar = no more than 30 minutes (I do not recommend formal grammar prior to 4th or 5th grade, and even then, I prefer an overview with a follow up in junior high and high school.)
Spelling = no more than 20 minutes. (I only teach spelling if there is a need – I have several children who are natural spellers and a curriculum would be a waste of their time and mine. If you are interested, you can also read my thoughts on teaching vocabulary words.
History (and similar studies) = no more than 20 minutes unless you are using a vibrant curriculum that utilizes living books and interesting projects. If using the latter, work as long as you have their attention.
Art = no more than 30 minutes (use lessons that are non-stressful and do not require a lot of prep work. I recommend See the Light Art.)
Music = lessons are typically 30 minutes in length, do not require practice times beyond that length.
NO HOMEWORK EVER! There is no need at this age. Every subject they do should be done within the allotted time. They can certainly “work” on their own time in subjects that interest them, but drawing a subject out too long will squash your child’s love of learning.
A basic elementary age school day = 70 minutes or less
Math = no more than 45 minutes
Science = no more than 45 minutes
History = approximately 1 – 1.5 hours, based on how integrated the curriculum is with other school subjects and how interesting it is to you and your student.
Composition = no more than 30 minutes – preferably this is part of your history integration.
Art = as desired (if you are forcing a child to do art at this age, you are wasting their time and yours)
Music = as desired (same as art – by the time a child is this age, they are either passionate about music or they are not. They will pursue the arts if this is their passion. Feed that passion as needed.)
A basic jr. high school day = 3 hours or less
Math = no more than 1 hour
Science = no more than 1 hour
History = approximately 1 – 3 hours, based on how integrated the curriculum is with other school subjects and how interesting it is to you and your student.
Literature & Composition = approximately 1 hour – (preferably this is part of your history integration.)
Electives = approximately 30 minutes a piece (base these classes on what your state requires, what your child’s college of choice requires and/or family preferences and child’s interests)
A basic high school day = 4 – 6 hours total
If you are looking for inspiration for keeping your homeschooling simple and living-books based, I highly recommend this video series (available in download or DVD):
Homeschool Made Simple is hosted by Carole Joy Seid, a homeschool mom who has been helping families work through the logistics of homeschooling for nearly 30 years. The set contains 6 workshops on how to keep a simple literature-based homeschool using your Bible and a library card (with a smattering of other resources thrown in). Yes – it really IS that simple!