Many people considering homeschooling wonder what a day in the life of a homeschooler looks like? The reality is it varies!
Many people considering homeschooling wonder what a day in the life of a homeschooler looks like? To know how long they need to be learning for, what they need to be learning and how often they need to do it? The tricky thing is there is no definitive answer, it will look different depending on what kind of method(s) of homeschooling you use.
If you formally homeschool, your day may have a timetable with formal learning taking place between specific hours like schools do. If you do a bit of formal homeschooling and the rest is child led, you may create times that work for you and your children to do the formal learning. This may be every morning for an hour and the rest of the time might look more relaxed, centred around the children.
The thing you really need to do is work out what is best for you and your child, I wrote an article about deschooling, an important process to help take the school system out of them before the deep dive into the homeschool journey and choosing a homeschool style.
Because there are no set hours that you need to follow, the world is your oyster, you can set your own! Try to think outside the box, learning happens all the time, you don’t have to schedule it in between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday like schools do. Say you need to work Tuesday to Thursday, you can pencil in learning on other days including the weekend and learning doesn’t have to happen just in school term times, sure, take breaks in the year to go away or have time off when someone is unwell but actually you can keep learning going if that works for you. Teachers often find that kids struggle to get back into things when they have had a long break so it is worth considering that if you are going down a formal route.
Another consideration around timings is that some children naturally get up early and go to bed earlier, some prefer to get up later and go to bed later. If you can work with your child’s body clock you will find them more amenable, particularly as they grow older. There is a lot of research out there about how during the teenage years they physically need to sleep in and they are slower to get started, they are not being lazy after all! Don’t be fooled by our school system and think the government know best, the school system is set like it is for very different reasons, not in the interest of children but more around childcare and enabling parents to go to work!
A great thing to consider is how long children can concentrate for, it is suggested that an 8 year old can concentrate for 16 – 24 minutes in one sitting. In school, in one 60 minute lesson much of that time is taking to organising the class, managing behaviour and group teaching. If there are 30 kids in a class one child only gets 2 minutes of teacher time if they even get that at all!
Always work with your child, include them in the planning of what the days and activities look like, let them own it, they will respond better if they have had some input. You may also need to work around other activities, clubs and groups that your child attends.
Don’t be tempted to go on social media and follow what other people do or suggest, by all means read stuff but create the ideal situation for you and your child. And believe me, you may shift this as your child develops. Learning formally 9:30-10:30am Monday to Friday might work well to start with but as they get older this may need to shift or if work and groups change you may need to adapt what you are doing. You will definitely develop a degree of flexibility when you are homeschooling.
An example of a typical day for us goes like this;
We generally get up around 8am, when my husband’s getting ready for work (living in a small house means you sometimes get woken up, whether you plan to or not) and we all go to bed at the same time around 9pm.
My children are slow starters so normally loaf around and then have breakfast around 9-9:30am, they then get themselves dressed and ready for the day, unless they are having a stay at home day when its a bit more relaxed. I tend to do some work for a bit while the children do their thing, this could be them making and creating, playing with their toys, reading or playing on iPads. I then do something structured with each of them by which time it is lunch, they often get involving in cooking at some point during the week. We are out around 3-4 afternoons a week, we meet friends, go shopping or doing some kind of activity. Then it’s home and I do dinner and after that they play at home, out on the lane with their friends or do something with Daddy. We then have an hour before we go to bed where we all connect, play games, watch a bit of a film or just chill in front of the fire and then we go to bed, mostly with a book or audio story and then we are all asleep by 10am.
From what you have read I hope you will recognise that this average day varies a lot with the seasons and when things are going on. We are far more outdoors during spring, summer and autumn and we do retreat a little more in the Winter, we have friends over a lot and we immerse ourselves in everyday activities like cooking, gardening and chores.
In summary the key things to consider are; What days/time you have free? When does it work best for your child to do formal learning? How often do you and your child think they need to do formal learning? What other activities does your child take part in?
If things don’t feel right, flip them, change them, mash them up but most of all work with the children in everything you do and involve them in every decision, trust them when they tell you what works best for them.