How Many Hours a Week Should You Homeschool?

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How many hours you homeschool a week must take into consideration a myriad of factors. The age of the children, how many children you are teaching, the homeschool method or curriculum you are using, and last but not least – the rules of your state.

Homeschooling attendance is almost exclusively determined by hours and not days, regardless of where you live.

Typically, homeschooling parents engage in formal education lessons 2 – 3 hours per day during a 3 – 5 day homeschool week, totaling up to 15 hours a week. This number does not take into account the learning activities a parent engages in with children that are not traditional academic lessons.

little girl raising hands in homeschool classroom

I help homeschool three of my grandchildren. Because they are all very young, I opt for 20 to 25 minute traditional academic learning sessions followed by forest schooling or vocational learning time on our farm.

Sitting still all day is never on our agenda so the time it takes to transition from one activity to another is always factored into the homeschool hours for the week.

It is common for five and six year old children to homeschool for two hours a day. Sometimes, those hours are engaged in all at once, and other parents opt to split the instructional hours throughout the day.

It is also fairly typical for homeschooling parents to teach their children one hour per what grade level they would be in at a public school. For example, a fourth grade age child would receive four homeschool hours of instruction.

The short number of hours in a routine homeschool day shocks many new at home educators. But, the significant amount of attention a single child or several children receive from the parent or grandparent educating them makes all the difference in learning time.

Many children, depending upon both their age and maturity level, also engage in some of their learning projects or curriculum lessons independently – leaving a parent free to focus solely on a younger learner while still monitoring the work of older children.

Unofficial learning activities such as sports, art, nature hikes, field trips, music practices or 4-H meetings that can also help fulfill physical education, science, and elective state requirements are commonly added to the weekly or monthly homeschool hours a parents logs to fulfill state department of education mandates.

State Homeschool Hours Rules

While the number of hours a child is homeschooled varies by state, most if not all state department of education boards factor the hours requirement on an annual and not weekly or monthly basis.

In Ohio, a total of 900 homeschool hours must be completed each year. In Texas, where there are less stringent district notification and parent qualification regulations, children must receive 1,260 instructional homeschool hours. Some states require a certain number of homeschool hours of instruction be given in specific subjects, as well.

Before deciding on a homeschool hours schedule, carefully reviewing the rules in your state and conferring with both the local school district as well as other homeschooling parents, cannot be recommended highly enough.

State codes are not exactly interesting or easy reading – and often reference other existing codes and state department of education policy updates. Discuss the homeschooling hours and other reporting requirements with other parents who have successfully been teaching their children at home.

Without both knowing the state homeschool hours rules AND how long it usually takes to teach the average child at home at any given age, deciding how many hours to homeschool each week is merely throwing caution to the wind, and hoping things all work out.

A parent concerned enough about the education of their children that they are taking that responsibility into their own hands is not likely the type of individual who is willing to make careless homeschool set up decisions.

What Counts As Homeschool Hours?

The answer to this important question varies by state. The vast majority of homeschooling families believe that learning can take place anywhere and everywhere – some states agree with this mantra more than others.

Regardless of how structured homeschool dictates are in your particular state, there definitely are no rules about being tied to a desk completing worksheets all day to satisfy homeschool hours.

Many of the daily activities you already engage in can count as homeschooling hours, which works nicely with an extended homeschool year, or year-round schooling plan.

When factoring in the homeschool hours reporting requirements for your state to help plan how many hours of instruction to give children each week, consider some non-traditional learning activities that can fulfill state requirements.

ActivityAcademic Subject Connection
CookingReading, Math, Science, Life Skills
HikingPhysical Education, Science – and if you get creative, math and history, as well
Block PlayMath, Science
Sidewalk Chalk PlayArt – Language Arts Extension Activity when creating images related to book reading
Documentary WatchingTopic of the documentaries can related to any common educational subject
Food Coloring Snow PaintingScience – also a fun way to use squirt bottles to practice “writing” letters and numbers of doing math problems
Barnyard ChoresAgricultural science
GardeningAgricultural and earth science
Toy Making – wood toys, dolls, etc.Art, reading and social studies extension
Playing Board GamesComprehension, critical thinking, pattern solving, reading, math.

These are just a few examples of the fun-filled ways you and your children can complete homeschooling hours requirements.

Once you leave the public school mindset behind and start thinking out of the box, a flurry of memory making ways to immerse your children in a world of learning discovery will start flooding your mind.

Is using chalk drawing as homeschool hours unethical and cheating the system? Nope, it is merely finding a way to make learning the fun, open ended, and engaging adventure it should be for your children.

kids using glue whileworking on a homeschool project

How Do You Keep Track Of Homeschool Hours?

Once again, the rules governing how homeschool hours are tracked can vary widely by state. Some states require extensive record keeping, including a portfolio of a child’s work completed during the year.

Less intrusive states urge or require parents to keep a log of hours or a lesson plan, but do not necessarily require it to be turned in to the department of education or school district on an annual basis.

Your state department of education should offer detailed rules about both what information needs to be collected, and how it is reported.

Do not rely simply upon the local school district to be either accurately or well-versed in this regard, or to offer any forms you may need to complete the annual homeschool hours reporting.

In states that require homeschooling parents to present an hours log, it may be required annually, quarterly, on a semester schedule, or be produced on demand if questions are levied about the homeschool education you are providing – this type of action could involved a non-custodial parent or children’s services complaint.

If a homeschool hours log form is not required by the state, you can track the hours of learning (both by traditional and non-traditional methods) on a homemade form that depicts the number of hours spent on each subject or topic on a weekly basis.

Homeschool planners are often shared online in the form of free printables or from individual or commercial creators on Pinterest or ETSY.

A lesson plan can double as a homeschool hours log if your state does not require the use of a form created by the education department.

Some states may mandate the start and end of the school year for reporting and notification purposes. While this is not common in our era of less stringent homeschooling rules, it can still occur. If this is the case in your state, it is vital that the minimum number of homeschooling hours is shown to have been completed in between the official start and end date of the school year as it is handed down by the state.

Homeschool Credit Hours

This is a whole different animal than less formal homeschool hours, as they pertain to children who have not yet reached high school – at least in some states.

If you have to keep track of not just homeschool hours but homeschool credit hours, or are maneuvering through a complicated formal for high school graduation credits, keeping a detailed, accurate, and up to date credit hour lesson plan and log is crucial to achieving a high school diploma for this is also a great place to cover homeschool hours versus homeschool credit hours.

When tracking high school credit hours, a specific formal should be made available to you from the state department of education. Again, do not rely on the often well-meaning aid of folks at the local school district level.

Whether or not your child garners the credits necessary through homeschool hours to receive a diploma is a burden that will be placed squarely on your own shoulders and not those of anyone else.

Credit hours are used to tabulate a grade point average that will be placed on a high school transcript that will be used both for graduation diploma issuance and for college admission forms.

Homeschool Credit Hour Facts

  • On Tuesday, your child received two hours of science instruction. On Thursday, your child had one hour of science instruction. The total number of math hours for the week is three.
  • Credit hours are based on the type of course instruction a child receives – lecture hours, practicums, internships, and labs are common examples.
  • A single course credit is commonly issued when a student has successfully completed 120 to 180 hours of course instruction – regardless of the type.
  • Credit hours are more officially known as Carnegie Units.
  • Taking a single hour course five days a week for a typical school year will result in one credit hour being awarded.
  • The number of credit hours needed to graduate varies by state. Typically, 23 to 28 credit hours are needed to be granted a high school diploma.
  • There should not be any special credit hour requirements levied against homeschool students in order to garner college admission, but that does not mean you will not encounter a rule that runs contrary to state law, and have to spend time fighting the dictate in time to get your child admitted by the standard school application deadline.

In many states, homeschool students in ninth through twelfth grade (sometimes as young as in seventh grade) can take dual course credit either online or at a local campus free of charge – including books and most lab fees.

Post Secondary Options programs of this type are not based on a parent’s income but the grade point average of the student. The minimum grade point average required varies by state.

Participating in a dual credit program like this can be highly beneficial to homeschool students attempting to complete all of the hours needed to meet the credit hour threshold.

Not only will taking a class or multiple classes take any guesswork or obstacles out of the credit hour completion requirement because official records will be kept by the college the child is attending, but also helps pave the way for entrance acceptance to that or any other college upon graduation.

While it may not be as common as it once was, homeschool transcripts are not always honored – without a fight, by colleges … even though homeschool students typically score substantially higher on ACT and SAT tests than students in public school.

In some to perhaps many cases, students who have been enrolled in dual credit programs do not have to take college entrance tests. It is not uncommon for homeschool children to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree under their belt thanks to dual credit programs.

How the Curriculum Method Impact Homeschool Hours

If you are using traditional textbooks or an online computer homeschool program, the learning process as far as hours go, will be easy to track and have a definite end and beginning estimation time that is easily tabulated.

But, if you are focused more on hands-on learning, a Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, gameschooling, or unschooling homeschool curriculum, it is often more difficult for homeschool newbies to estimate how long various learning lessons and activities will take due to their open-ended nature.

If you are going to drive an hour away to hike a national or state park to forage for wild edibles as part of a health, science, or physical education aspect of your curriculum, 8 hours of loggable homeschool time could take place in a single day.

When outside learning experiences are a routine or large part of the curriculum, the drive time to an animal shelter for volunteer hours, an interview with a vet to learn more about animal care, as well as leisure reading on the subject can all typically count as homeschooling hours that go well beyond the usual two to three or even four hour homeschool day.

How your children will learn will dictate the amount of homeschool hours during any given day or week far more than what they will actually be learning. Being flexible in your hours plan will allow you the ability to better plan for expanded discovery activities for one or all children in a more organized manner.

Do not expect all children to learn for the same number of hours each day anymore than you anticipate all of your little blessings to learn in the same way or at the same speed.

children doing experiments during homeschool

How Long Is A Homeschool Year?

Deciding how many months out of the year you will be homeschooling is yet another integral factor to consider when determining how many hours a week to homeschool. Many parents mirror the traditional school year start and stop dates in their local area and homeschool 180 days per year.

Other homeschooling parents homeschool year round or close to it. This allows far more flexibility to homeschooling families who want short days and weeks scattered throughout the year with longer seasonal breaks.

A homeschooling days and hours schedule like this may help the children retain what they are learning easier or more quickly without the three month summer gap.

A year round or longer than 180 day homeschooling schedule is also well suited to parents who favor a more non-traditional curriculum approach and incorporate outdoor activities, volunteering, vocational and leisure classes, and traveling into the core of their homeschool academic format.

Final Words

Teaching your children or grandchildren at home can be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done.

It may get messy, require scrapping a well-laid homeschool hours or lesson plan that does not pan out, and some days it can feel like your are reining over slightly organized chaos, but I regret not a single moment of homeschooling my daughter in high school or now helping bring the joy of learning to the three amazing humans she brought into the world.

Understanding homeschool hours requirements in your state and following all of the rules for reporting and adhering to core subject instruction minimums will help you construct a learning environment that serves your children well far into the future.

little boy holding a sign on his first school day

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