If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has made more families aware of how their kids learn along with good and bad techniques for home education. Experienced homeschoolers know that spending too little or too much time each day on schoolwork can have an adverse effect; but, what is the right amount of time?

The first thing to realize is that every student is unique with their own learning habits, study skills and how they absorb information for each subject. Secondly, the amount of time to spend on a particular subject will change by grade, or at least looks different between elementary, middle and high school students, primarily because of the age differences and physical changes associated with these growing years. What works for a 1st grader is not going to work the same when that student reaches 8th grade and then high school; so parents and kids have to work together to find the right balance.

Another thing that families realize pretty quickly is that a traditional public school day schedule is a lot longer than when working through the online homeschool programs. In a classroom setting, there is a ratio of many kids to one teacher so instruction time can take longer with questions being asked and making sure everyone is comfortable with the information. However, homeschooling is generally a one-to-one ratio or at least a few-to-one (if there are multiple kids) and information can be taught quicker and absorbed faster by the student. Instead of having to spend 45 minutes in each class, students may only need 30 minutes or less depending on the grade level. This frees up more time during the day for family time, extracurricular activities and creative tasks that kids are interested in doing because they are more fun for the brain and body.

The biggest adjustment seems to be for families with younger elementary age children , because they are generally in school for 8 hours but cannot sustain this schedule when learning at home. The top print and online homeschool programs provide lesson planners so parents can see about how much work should be done each day to keep the student on track to finish in the traditional school year time frame. However, parents can modify this based on how their child is doing; it is a well-known fact that forcing a kid to learn is counter intuitive. This is why it’s important to incorporate fun and breaks throughout the day and only have kids working on each subject for about 10-15 minutes. This allows them to learn the concept, but not overdo it and then become frustrated where they shut down.

The most important factor to remember is that parents and students need to work together because there is no perfect schedule or solution on how much time to do school each day. Thirty minutes for one student may be too much for another student especially if the second student can grasp the information faster and move on. Kids also have courses they are stronger in than others; so, it may take them less time in English and more in math.  The key is recognizing this and finding the balance Remember that homeschooling is not an exact science and should not be designed to mimic a traditional classroom in every way because the dynamics and features are very different. If a student is showing signs of getting burned out, complaining of constantly being tired or starting to dislike school for no apparent reason then start by looking at the schedule and see how to make beneficial modifications to encourage learning.

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