How many homeschool hours per day should you do? Can you homeschool for only 2 hours a day? These are the questions that many new home educators ask. They want to know if they can effectively provide good educational instruction in such a short period.
This is a pertinent question as many schools take over 5 hours to teach the same content to their students! In this article, I’ll be arguing that you can teach all the academic bookwork homeschoolers need in a fraction of the time. In addition, we’ll crowdsource some answers to these questions and find out if the states have instituted any homeschool hour requirements.
Let’s get started!
How Many Formal Homeschool Hours Should Homeschoolers Do Per Day?
I asked homeschool families how many homeschool hours by grade level their children did, and the answers were interesting because they contrast sharply with how many hours schoolchildren spend at their desks.
On average, homeschoolers study for about two to three hours a day. A small survey of nearly 250 parents found:
- 2% studied for less than an hour.
- 7% studies for 1-2 hours
- 54% studied for 2-3 hours
- 9% studied for 3-4 hours
- 15% studied for 4-5 hours
- 7% studied for 5+ hours
But, the amount of time children spends in formal education differs widely depending on the child’s age. For example, young homeschoolers usually study for only one to two hours, while older homeschoolers study for six to seven hours.
1st to 3rd Grade: Roughly Homeschool 2 Hours a Day
If you are in 1st to 3rd Grade, you will most likely homeschool for 2 hours a day. Essentially, most parents with a 5 or 6-year-old will be homeschooling for 2 hours a day.
One parent said she recommends homeschoolers study an hour a grade in the early years. For instance, Grade 1 should be one hour a day, Grade 2 should be two hours a day, and Grade 3 should be three hours a day.
4th to 6th Grade: Roughly Homeschool 3 Hours a Day
If you are in 4th to 6th Grade (among the parents I asked, this correlated to ages eight to eleven), you will most likely do 3-4 hours a day.
7th to 9th Grade: Roughly Homeschool 4 Hours a Day
If you are in 7th to 9th Grade (ages twelve to fourteen), you will most likely do 4-5 hours a day.
10th to 12th Grade: Roughly Homeschool 7 Hours a Day
If you are in 10th to 12th Grade (ages fifteen to eighteen), you will most likely do 6-8 hours a day.
- Sometimes older teenagers have a part-time job, so they might not be studying every day of the week. This means they might have to have a day when they put in more hours. Or perhaps they end up studying on weekends. Many home educators limit their children’s paid working hours that are too long as it might disrupt their study.
Can I homeschool for 2 hours a day?
You can homeschool for two hours a day and get all your formal homeschooling done in that timeframe. But, it seems homeschool hours are more dependent on your child’s age and their ability to take in information given their brain development.
In addition, some families feel more comfortable covering more information in a day than others. And of course, some children can take in more information in a day than other children.
Some kids will take three hours to learn the same information that another kid will take only one hour to learn. So homeschool hours are more a result of these variables.
Perhaps this is a big reason why many governments haven’t instituted definite homeschool hour logs (although some have requirements for educational homeschooling logs of activities, i.e., Florida).
Homeschool Hour Requirements: Are there any?
In most places, you don’t need to keep an official log of homeschooling hours, although some state governments recommend you spend a set amount of time on each specific subject.
These recommendations are sometimes why a home education application is more likely to be accepted or rejected in some states.
Things to Consider When Thinking About Homeschooling Hours Per Day
When surveyed, parents said some things which are worthwhile noting as they talked about how they calculated homeschool hours per day:
- Some parents did longer hours on school days so that they could do no schoolwork during holidays.
- Sometimes parents don’t do as much ‘logged formal education’ because they go to a park, a field trip, or a homeschooling co-op to socialize and do their work there.
- Most only had a five-day working week (like school).
- One parent didn’t want to pick an amount because they said, ‘Life is Educational 24/7.’
- Field trips go in the daily homeschool log; they can account for around a sixth of your homeschool hours.
- Personal Education (PE) and personal reading time may not be counted as formal hours. One Mum estimates you can add 1.5 homeschool hours per day for these two subjects. (If you don’t include these as homeschool hours, it may be wise to write down in your homeschool hours log what counts as homeschool hours…).
- One parent said that parents would spend more or less time in the schoolroom doing formal study depending on the child’s focus. For example, if the child is not focusing well, it might take four hours, but this can drop to two or three hours when they are concentrated well.
- In three hours, a few mothers noted their children could get through between four to nine subjects!
- The homeschool hours logged sometimes include a 30-minute break in between subjects.
How many homeschool hours you do will also depend on your child’s natural academic bent, the homeschool method you choose, the homeschool curriculum (and busywork within it!) you’re using, and other factors.
What Other People Say About How Long Academics Should Take
Seaton Homeschool Study
Ginny Seuffert said she taught in 20-30 minute blocks for her four-year-old grandson, who she taught to read.
On the other hand, she said you couldn’t expect a teenager to do their work in under an hour: ‘No student can expect to finish high school level work in less than one hour per day, per subject, with maybe another hour or two of reading each night.’
Seuffert says a teenager needs all that time because they’re trying to not only absorb facts as you did when you were younger but analyze and be able to debate a topic. Again, this seems consistent with how classical educators teach (an approach to education I favor most).
Ultimately, because of all the variability, Sueffert says:
Children in the primary grades are different in their learning levels and attention span; it is challenging to have a suggested amount of time. Most moms and dads can sense when it is time to have a timeout and when they can go back to the schoolwork.
More active children will not stay still very long, and you will need to teach in spurts. Those younger ones anxious to read may carry a book around with them and start learning on their own amazingly.
Middle school and junior high school students will need to add some time after lunch and perhaps catch up on reading after dinner. High school students top out with six to eight hours a day, including evening reading.
Her view appears to be consistent with the mothers surveyed above.
Amy Roberts from Raising Arrows
Amy answered the question about how long homeschooling takes by giving us a quick breakdown with the caveat of, ‘It depends.’
- Kindergarten & 1st Grade: 30-45 minutes
- 2nd-4th Grade: 1½-2 homeschool hours per day
- 5th-6th Grade: 2-4 homeschool hours per day
- 7th Grade+: 4+ homeschool hours per day
This estimate is similar to our mothers surveyed above also.
Are Shorter Hours Better in the Formative Years?
“Okay,” you might be saying, “These are just comments from homeschooling Mums. Does the research say so few hours is a good idea?”
One Christian researcher, Raymond Moore, asserts strongly that ‘no replicable evidence exists for rushing children into formal study at home or school before 8 or 10.’ Basing his words off 8,000 studies, Moore was certainly thorough in his research.
It seems we don’t need to start with any hours a day until children hit ages 8 to 10 (but who can resist!).
How Long Should a Homeschool Year Be?
There aren’t any homeschool hour requirements in most states (although some do require to see ledgers of homeschool hour logs, so check with your state), so you can be inventive here.
Sometimes asking how long a homeschool year should be is irrelevant if you’re not keeping to the school/school holiday schedule.
For example, if you’re going to work through school holidays or on some weekends, you’ll probably finish your work early and be able to have the second half of the year off.
Conversely, if you have a sick child who needs to take many days off due to health problems or medical appointments, you can work through the holidays and weekends without the child getting further behind.
Because of the great flexibility that home education allows, parents can also do formal homeschooling for only six months of the year. This is a popular option among parents who want to take their children on holiday.
I’ve also met a few families who traveled around the country for a year and homeschooled the entire time. In addition, many parents choose to do a four-day homeschooling week instead of a five-day week.
I think any of these suggestions are acceptable, but it depends on your family’s preference or needs.
My Homeschool Hours: Roughly Three Homeschool Hours Per Day
When I was homeschooled, my parents gave us workbooks. So we sat down and studied our workbooks (usually covering two to three subjects a day) for around three hours a day.
Although we mostly did about three homeschool hours a day, our time doing academic study was determined by the pace at which we got through the material rather than how many hours we did.
This motivated us to do our work more quickly as we could spend the spare time we had at the end of the day doing things we enjoyed.
When I became a teenager, I became more motivated to finish my homework to get to the next grade faster. So I studied long hours – often eight to 10 hours a day! I decided on these homeschool hours myself because I could now see the point of studying hard.
My study habits were successful as I eventually attended medical school. My brothers who did similar hours to myself were also successful, with my older brother becoming an architect (now a pastor-in-training) and my younger brother became a lawyer.
It seems my experience was universal.
Conclusion: Homeschool Hour Requirements and Consensus…What’s the Best?
Although home-educated students spend an average of two to three hours doing formal homeschool hours per day, there are usually no requirements that make them do so. More often, hours should be highly dependent on a student’s age. Counting hours is further complicated by what hours you count and what hours you don’t. If you count independent reading or Personal Education, your hours will increase. If you study longer on some days to have other days off, your hours may look different. It seems hours is not so much the name of the game, but quality of work. If you can finish in two hours a day, why spend four?