How many hours per week does it take to homeschool?

This is an interesting question because it is extremely important to those considering homeschooling, but the answer is not straight forward. You could spend anywhere between 0 and 30 hours per week depending on many factors including:

  • Number of children 
  • Age of children
  • Ability of children
  • Independence of children
  • How involved the parent wants to be in the education process
  • Curriculum 
  • Education philosophy
  • Established routine and expectations
  • Education history of the child

In general the younger the child the more one-on-one time they need during the educational process, and the older the child the less time they need. As children get older, they become independent and are able to learn readily on their own.

The philosophy of most people educating young children tends to include lots of time allotted for free exploration and less time spent with structured learning. This is reversed in older students. In other words, high school children may spend 4-7 hours involved in book learning activities where as younger children may spend 1-3 hours in intense book learning. Because of the need for one-on-one time, it is typically the younger child who requires more time from the parent.

If you choose to read to your child you will spend more hours homeschooling than if you assign or allow your child to choose books to read. If you choose a math program that requires you to give lessons or play games with your child you will spend more hours homeschooling than if you select a program where the student watches a video and then does a lesson. The same goes for science, history, art and music. Bringing your child to a park to do a nature study will take more time than sending the child outside.

It is not only book learning time that is required by the homeschooling parent to give the child a quality education. So much of the time it takes to homeschool depends on your involvement and circumstances. In general most homeschooled kids require 3-5 hours per day to complete their work and parents are involved in half of those hours. When parents aren't involved in book learning work, they may spend time researching resources or preparing lesson plans depending on the curriculum selected. Parents also spend time making sure kids have social contacts with others. Will you spend three hours one afternoon per week at a park with other homeschoolers? This social time for the kids serves as both social and planning time for the parent.

Obviously the number of children you have has a great effect on the time it takes to homeschool. Can the kids work together? Are they close enough in age for history, science, art, foreign language and music lessons to be combined? Can they read to each other? Can they help each other with math lessons? 

Homeschooling takes time, and the most effective way to reduce the time it takes is to teach the child to be independent. The first step in the independence journey is teaching the child to read. Once a child can read, they can begin to find information on their own. Therefore the next logical step is teaching kids to find resources and learning opportunities. They can learn to request books from the library, be introduced to quality websites, shown resources such as the History Vault where they can learn by watching documentaries. The possibilities are endless. The key starts with reading.

The second most effective way to reduce the time it takes to teach is to establish routine and expectations. Once the child understands what is required there is much the child can complete on his own even at a young age. For example, once you teach your child to bathe and get dressed, you no longer need to help. Homeschooling works that way as well. Routine and expectations is really an extension of parenting. Good parenting skills transfer into good homeschooling skills.

Because homeschooling is flexible and individual, it is difficult to say how many hours it takes to homeschool. To estimate the time it takes you, begin with an estimate of around 12 hours per week and then add or subtract hours based on the number of children, their ages and how involved you plan to be in the process.

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