Feeling overwhelmed by your homeschool schedule? Several children to manage? The first thing to do is take a moment: exhale and relax.
The average school-year is only 180 days. This means it’s not necessary to work on every subject every day. And with several children to teach, consider enrolling them in only a few outside classes or activities. Friday or Saturday 4-H or group classes can be the exception. This will give you more time to knock out the basics during the week.
Bear in mind that every child is different. Even if your children are close in age, they will still have differently-developed motor skills, abilities, and learning processes. A sample time-frame for each subject by ages is as follows:
Preschoolers: 5-10 minutes per subject
1st-3rd grade: 15-30 minutes per subject
4th-6th grade: 30 minutes – 1 hour per subject
7th-12th grade: 1 hour or more per subject
Certain flexibilities may be allowed. For instance, a subject will take longer if it is oral, rather than written. Some children learn better this way, and have early difficulty with handwriting and composition. While older children may hand-write much of their work, it might be easier to allow younger ones to save the written work for final practice or projects.
If a subject cannot be completed in the general time allotted, do not allow your student to become frustrated or restless by tiring themselves out. Put the work aside, move on to another subject, and allow the unfinished work to become “homework.” This will allow you to focus on the problem subject one-on-one, and your child will finish their “homework” in no time!
A reasonable amount of schooling can be accomplished in five or less hours daily. What truly matters is the amount of one-on-one time you give each student, especially when focusing on problem subjects. A sample time-frame for one-on-one instruction is as follows:
Preschoolers: 30 minutes (broken into a few five or ten-minute increments)
1st-6th grade: 1-2 hours
7th-12th grade: 2 or more hours
Even with several children, individual focus can be given to each child’s particular needs in about five hours total. Once this time-frame has been reached, it becomes nearly impossible to keep a child’s attention. Activities for the remainder of the day can involve:
Playtime (with siblings or friends)
Music (practicing instruments, singing)
Art (either structured projects, or free-time, allowing the child to create on their own)
There are some states who require a certain number of homeschooling hours per day. Bear in mind that actual instruction time in any school does not match actual attendance time. The amount of non-instruction time in public schools is pretty extensive. Think about it: time for kids to settle down, role-call, handing in homework, snack and lunch time, recess, study hall or library, sports, electives (music, art), walking to and from classes, clearing/cleaning the classroom, and the myriad of interruptions from rowdy students. There are also projects where students work as a group while the teacher focuses on grading, and videos shown in-class.
It will not demand too much creativity to fill those five hours with educational and constructive activities to meet the required standard. Remember: there is no one way to do anything, and every child will have different interests and strengths. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with a student’s learning-curve. With time and practice, they will surprise you. In the meantime, focus more time and energy on their strong areas, and have fun with them!