Friday, September 19, 2014

Learning to Prioritize-Shortening Homeschool Days

I have been conditioned. Yep, used to a long Traditional School day of 8 hrs of school + transportation time. In addition to 2 hours of After-schooling with homework.


So being fairly new to the homeschooling arena, I was in disbelief when parents complained about how long it took them to teach their kids in a day.

I mean I considered 4-5 hours for an Elementary / Middle Schooler to be a breeze. Even with both my husband and I being working parents we could easily pull that off.

In addition, my kids considered the day short and more directed. Even enjoyable compared to the alternative of traditional school.

However, my homeschooling peers were balking at me when I told them that my kids were spending upwards to 5 hours 'doing school' and sometimes 7 hours if I added in their chosen extra curricular subjects.


What it boils down to is not the TIME but the instruction. Every parent schools differently and if they can merge play and learning - then great. That means 'formal' instruction isn't being done, but the child is still learning the tools needed to be educated.

My approach was to keep my kids in line with traditional school routines, structured studies with a flexible schedule that is allowed us by homeshooling. Therefore if my kids had to make a transition back to traditional school, they would be conditioned to do so. Not only that, but I like the order and format of a structured day.


I've considered ways to get learning in during the summer, and in doing so, I stripped their curriculum down to the bare bones. Math, Writing and Science. If a parent makes those three subjects their main focus and add in other subjects in a semester, quarterly year or block schedule, condensing school down to 2-3 hours is doable as long as the core subjects are maintained. I selected Math, Writing and Science because those are subjects that need constant care and feeding and to neglect those would show some degradation of learning.

My Weekly Wrapup:

This week had some highs and lows but it all met up in the end.

Speed Racer has been sneaking downstairs and watching TV until 4am in the morning. Yep, he was busted two times. Even with the reprimand - TV wins.

The effects? Well he was cranky when it was time to start school work and highly unmotivated.

He is one of those kids that loves to stay up late but hates waking up. This was a major problem when he went to traditional school because it put him in a bad disposition.

He doesn't have TV or video game access in his bedroom so he waits until we are all sleep and sneaks down to the living room to watch til he falls out.

I'm considering putting a TV in his room just to appease this issue, but I don't think it would be productive.

Mom is still trying to figure out a way to circumvent this behaviour - so stay tuned.

Instruction Completed.

Speed Racer's Mid-Morning Work
He attacked his Teaching Textbooks (supplemental Math),,, and IXL (Language) in the mornings with his home helper watching.

Afternoon with Mom and Evening Studies with Dad
When I got home we did Art History (a book we are reading), (their language program), Sequential Spelling, (Spanish), and his Abeka DVD subjects he does with his Dad are (Bible (only 2 days), Math6, Reading, Writing, Language Arts, History, and Science). School ended around 9:30pm but one night at 10:30pm when Speed Racer decided to make paper planes during math (side effect of lack of sleep from late night watching TV)

Tiger Lilly has been rockin' it out this week. Even though last week I noticed there were some quizzes she didn't finish. So guess what she was doing for 'homework' over the weekend? Yep, makeup Quizzes. Oh, and she decided to skip all the word problems in Teaching Textbooks for the last 10 lessons - so those 10 problems will be part of her 'homework' this weekend.

Tiger Lilly's Mid-Morning Work
She finished her Teaching Textooks (supplemental Math practice for Alg 2), Landry Programming course (Wed only w/ homework done on weekend), Critical Thinking Course with (Thu only with homework done on weekend), MOD Design (Java), Writeguide (8 week course done every other day) and (Grammar - done daily for 8 weeks).

Afternoon with Mom and Evenings with Dad
She's studying for her Composition and Analyzing Literature CLEPs so she's doing the InstantCert Flashcards review and a sample exam weekly. After she completes that she does her Abeka DVD courses (daily courses: Algebra 2, US History, Spanish, Chemistry), these are done 2 times a week (Physics, American Gov't, Economics) and on Friday's we do Art (See the Light DVDs).

Working Parent's Recap

Home Helper is now working with kids two times a week. It's working out and giving us an earlier time of work completion. So on 2 days the kids are finished school work by 4pm. They don't like the fact they have to wake up earlier on those days.

Lawn Care. I ended up not having to hire anyone. Once my husband and son realized I was firing them from the job, they jumped in and did the lawn. Hummm.

Meal Planning. Since I prepped everything this past Sunday, dinners were ready and on the table every night.

Cleaning. Still can't find a cleaning lady, so Saturday we all did a deep cleaning and tidy up. During the week I washed clothes while doing school with the kids. So the house stayed tidy. Speed Racer does the dishes and Tiger Lilly cleans the bathrooms.

Rest. I had an average of 5.5hrs sleep nightly. Mainly because I have been staying up to watch television, read or be time-sucked into Facebook. I will try to do better. I am also working on a business and my writing gig where I have some deadlines to finish, so that's also kept me up later. But I will do better next week!


  1. Nita, I cannot imagine having to work and homeschool at the same time. I do hope you have a good support group. I congratulate you on your accomplishments.

  2. I couldn't have imagined it either. However, in life if you really want to do something - you find a way, the energy and strength to do it. Everyone has to figure out how to make these challenges as a parent work out for them. I love working, enjoy having the extra to pay for my older kids trip to college, and I love my kids. Homeschooling them has given me more time than I thought possible when compared to the rigidity of a traditional school schedule. So I write this 'diary' of sorts not just for my kids but others that really want to know what it takes to work and school. Thanks for dropping in on the ride :-D

  3. I do think home schooling gives flexibility. We enjoyed that this week as we had a meeting out of town so the kids went along though not much school got done but I had planned that.

  4. That's the key 'flexibility' means that you can do school in anyway or form that works for your family. We can't do that with a traditional system.

  5. I have been a SAHM for 10 years now, but will soon need to work at least part-time. It's motivating to see another Mom doing it (although I am a single Mom to boot). My 7th and 4th graders only spend about 3 hours on core work, not counting extras or reading. It CAN be done!

  6. You're so right, Nita. The number of hours we educate our children is heavily influenced by our own experience of school, isn't it? We probably do fewer hours now than we did when my kids first came out of school three years ago, yet overall (including their own independent learning) I'm sure we achieve more. Hats off to you combining homeschooling with working. I hope you inspire more mums to do the same.

  7. I knew a single mama who homeschooled and worked, and I couldn't imagine how she did it, but she did! Homeschooling is gaining so much popularity that we're seeing a lot of different groups represented. I even belong to a group for homeschooling adoptive families.

  8. You're doing great, Nita! And I'm right there with you on the shortened school days. Since we don't have to manage an entire classroom, line up for lunch, attend school assemblies, or take scheduled bathroom and water breaks, the day usually ends up being shorter