Homeschooling is becoming a more popular choice for parents wishing to be more involved in their children’s education and who want to give their children a well-rounded education. However, for a parent who is new to homeschooling, it can be difficult to know how to balance the time spent between each subject.
Generally, homeschool students should be spending 45 minutes a day on each subject. While this is a good goal, time spent per subject may vary, as some children may need more time to complete assignments while others can complete their tasks more quickly.
One of the perks of homeschooling is that you can personalize the workload and schedule of each child, and the information below will help you figure out a target amount of hours for each subject per week.
General Rules of Homeschooling
In speaking with a mother who has homeschooled all of her children throughout the end of middle school, she says that it was important to remember that each child is different and that time spent on schoolwork every day will differ based on the child’s age and ability.
For instance, a 15-year-old will be able to sit and focus until all their work is done, whereas a six-year-old will only be able to sit and focus for 30 minutes at a time.
It is important not to push a child harder than they are ready for, especially the overachieving ones who finish all their homework in ten minutes. More school work and assignments can often feel like a punishment for doing well and can encourage a child to lose motivation or perform less efficiently in order to avoid more school work.
It is important to remember that every state has legal requirements for those parents who decide to homeschool their children. Although the laws around homeschooling vary by state, there are at least a minimum set of requirements for children as far as national testing goes in every state.
The mother whose story we told in the previous section is located in North Carolina, which has some of the strictest rules surrounding homeschooling in the nation. These laws require that students be tested with a national standardized test starting from the age of 7 through age 16.
That along with proof of all vaccines, immunizations, and attendance being kept, the teacher must file an intent to homeschool with the state, and the school must operate 9 months of the year.
Standardized testing generally includes testing of English, spelling, reading, and math. The children must test as an average student or higher in order to continue homeschooling. (Source)
Some parents become concerned when their state requires 4-5 hours of class attendance every day. It is important to remember that a typical school day in a public school setting includes lunch, recess (for younger children), time between classes, group projects, announcements, and even movies (if shown in class).
Once you get into the swing of things, the time spent on school work and instruction will become much less of an issue. (Source)
Since electives and physical education are also required, these are important to factor into your daily or weekly school schedule. Most states require 75 minutes of physical activity every week and they require proof or record of it.
Suggested Daily Schedule
8:45-9:15 Math drills and math textbook with Mom
9:45-10:15 Family reading time
10:30-10:45 Reading practice with Mom
11-11:15 Handwriting practice
12:30-1 Science, History, Art, or Music
1:45-2:15 Personal reading time
8:45-9 Typewriting practice
9-9:45 Math practice (drills, computer practice, textbook lesson)
9:45-10:15 Family reading time
10:30-11 Grammar and spelling
11:15-11:45 Literature and composition with Mom
12:30-1:15 Science, History, Art, or Music
2-2:30 Personal reading time
8:45-9:30 Math textbook
9:30-9:45 Typewriting practice
11-12 Grammar, spelling, vocab
12:30-1:30 Science, History, Art, or Music
1:45-2:15 Computer Tech
2:45-3:15 Personal reading time
Online resources and math learning games are becoming more commonplace and there are hundreds of different options for a child who may struggle to learn from a traditional textbook. However, for children who can learn well from a math textbook and workbook, there are many tried and true options out there.
The top 5 math textbooks for homeschoolers include Singapore Math, Math U See, Saxon Math, Life of Fred, and Teaching Textbooks. (Source)
This can be an intimidating subject to teach, especially as the children grow to a high school level. Thankfully, there are many science curriculums out there that are tailored specifically toward homeschoolers.
The top 5 favorites include Khan Academy, Smart Science Education, Supercharged Science, Apologia Learning, and Time4Learning. (Source)
There are many aspects of English that need to be taught in order to properly equip your child with the skills needed for higher education, or even standardized tests allowing them to graduate with a high school diploma. Grammar, composition, literature, and reading are all parts of English.
There are many curriculums available to assist you in teaching everything that is covered in standardized testing, but simply reading a lot will also help your child learn proper English and grammar.
The top 5 teacher-recommended curricula include Essential in Writing, BJU Writing, Abeka, IEW Fix it Grammar, and Shurley English. (Source)
Social studies can also be difficult to fully cover since it includes subjects like political science, culture, economics, and technology. Rather than trying to find separate classes for everything, a curriculum is generally the easiest way to go about teaching this subject.
Some of the top recommended social studies curricula include Harcourt Social Studies, Rod and Staff, The Well Trained Mind, History Odyssey, and Story of the World. (Source)
There are many different ways to teach history, which makes it easier to find a good fit for your child. Historical fiction, textbooks, videos/movies, hands-on learning (visiting historical sites, making historical foods, etc), or a combination of all of these suggestions.
Some suggestions on good materials for American history resources include America from the Beginning, Homeschool Presidential Studies, Short Lessons in American History, Eat Your Way Through the USA, and We Sing America. (Source)
World history resources that are a teacher-favorite include Story of the World, Abeka History, My Father’s World, Beautiful Feet, and BJU Press History. (Source)
Helpful Hints for a New Homeschooler
The stereotype of a homeschooler generally brings an image that is less than desirable to mind. Socially awkward, potential developmental disabilities, and the “weird kid” are all part of this stereotype, but as more and more parents choose to homeschool their children, this stereotype is changing. There are more resources, homeschool groups, and recreation programs available than ever before.
Social interaction is extremely important in the development of your child, so it is good to make sure they have at least one class or activity in which they can interact in person with other children their age. Even just daily playtime with the neighborhood kids will help them get their social skills up to par with other children their age.
Sports and PE
Sports are a good way to get your child up and going as well as counting towards PE hours. The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can cater everything towards your child and their interests. Ballet, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rowing are all sports that are generally not associated with public school and are available for any children to register for.
Community recreation departments also offer sports teams that go by season, and although these generally cost a small fee, these are a good way to expose your child to a sport and learn how to play a team sport with other children.
In areas where there is a large homeschool population, there are often workout or running groups and even official homeschool swim or cross country teams. Although you may need to take more initiative to get things rolling than simply signing your child up for a sport, it will be worth it in order to cater to your child.
Music programs and private music or art lessons can also be a great way to expose your child to the world of the arts and once they become good enough, there are usually youth orchestras or performances that they can participate in if that is their cup of tea.
Research your Options
Even if your child struggles to perform in certain ways, they are still extremely capable of understanding and comprehending other things. For example, if your child struggles to read chapter books, they still may be extremely capable of listening to that same material and understanding the content. Audiobooks can be a great way to pique interest in wanting to learn how to read.
This same principle can apply to learning how to read or write. If a child is struggling to write and can’t write for long periods of time, they still have thoughts and words in their mind that they should get used to recording. Writing down what they say in a journal or notebook while they dictate to you will help them get used to this before they can write down everything they want to say themselves.
For children who love all things technology, computer programs, and learning games may be a great way to get them hooked on a subject and slowly help them learn more about that subject in more traditional ways.
As briefly mentioned previously, state requirements differ from state to state. It is wise to research these before starting any kind of homeschooling to ensure that you are meeting the requirements of the curriculum you choose.
Local Homeschooling Groups
Not only will this help provide a space for your children to socialize, but it will also provide you as a homeschooling parent or guardian a place to interact with similarly minded parents. These groups are often just as beneficial as a support group for parents because of how difficult it can be to be with your children 24/7 and double as their parent and teacher.
You may be able to learn a lot from these other parents, find out about clubs or activities that your child may be interested in, and can even start a group class with the other students.
There are national conferences in which both parents and children can gather to go to classes and participate in evening events and allow you both to meet like-minded people from around the nation.
Find a Curriculum
Finding a curriculum is not as simple as finding a program that looks good. You need to find what works best for your child and what level they are on. For some children, using a more strict workbook-based math program will work well, while for their sibling maybe they need one-on-one tutoring time in order to understand the same information.
Understanding your child and their different ways of learning is important since children tend to excel where they are encouraged and feel supported.
Create your Space
This is important since you will be using your home as a learning space. You want to stay away from using beds and bedrooms for schoolwork and it can be helpful to dedicate a whole room to schooling (if you have the space).
For many families, this can be the kitchen table or even a designated homeschool room. Staying consistent with your space will help with focusing on the schoolwork and will help your child establish a better routine.
Setting long-term goals for your children and keeping track of their progress will help you on the days when you get discouraged and start questioning your decision to homeschool. If it takes weeks for your child to become comfortable reading a chapter book, make sure you go back to your goals for them and look at how far they have come since you started.
For older children, look at where they started and how far they have come. It may seem like a long journey to high school graduation, but with a long-term goal in mind it can help you stay on track and stay motivated.