Assuming home schooling would be the only education for my child - how much time per day should I commit teaching him? And how much time should kid work on his own ("homework")

  • Welcome to Parenting! Is there a specific age in mind, or are you considering the entire academic career path?
    – Acire
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:53
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    My wife says that while it takes some time, for the child it takes significantly less time than public school. There is still some time required for preparation even if you are using one of the (nice) prepackaged curriculum sets. My wife (homeschooling mom, also former high-school science teacher) attributes this to the parent knowing the kid, being able to communicate effectively, being able enforce both attention and behavior, and being able to detect deception. Teachers are usually spread 35 to 1, so they have to be 35x better than the parent to be barely equal to one parent. Oct 19 '15 at 19:17
  • It's anecdotal, but a friend of mine who home-schools says it takes about 1 or 2 hours a day to cover the same academic material that they cover in school.
    – A E
    Oct 19 '15 at 19:47
  • @Erica I haven't had any age in mind. That's good question. I believe needed time is grows with kid's age, doesn't it? Oct 19 '15 at 19:56
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    My mom ran it similar to regular school. She structured the day from 8:30am to about 2 or 2:30pm which was designated "school" time. Most chunks of time were a specific subject, followed by exercises on the subject. In regards to how much time it would take on your part, basically all the time. My mom had to sit next to us to get us to do the work. Homework, well we didn't do too much homework. We didn't really need to; usually it was finished by 2:30 or 3pm.
    – Justin
    Oct 19 '15 at 20:25

It depends.

It depends on the curriculum you choose or the curriculum you make up (obviously using a pre-made curriculum will cost you less time.) It depends on whether your child needs more or less help with a lesson or subject. It depends on how well your child works independently. It depends on what you want your child to learn (it takes more time to teach your child to think critically than to regurgitate facts.) It depends on your style of teaching (are you hands on or hands off?) It depends on how many subjects you want to teach (my kids started learning Latin in the third grade. Obviously this took more time than friends who were not teaching languages at this age.) It depends on the grade (the early elementary grades take very little time; the older the child gets, the more time it takes. By high school, it was more than a full-time job.) It depends on how many kids you're teaching at the same time. It depends if you intend to teach year-round or only for 9 months (most homeschoolers I know/knew taught year round with more frequent breaks throughout the year or a half-schedule in summer.)

It depends on so many factors that it is for all intents and purposes primarily opinion based.

For my kids, homeschool started at 8:30 and finished at noon for grades K-2, with the most time given to my reading stories and teaching them to read. From third grade on, add 30-45 minutes/day for each year, more if you're teaching more than the basics.

Not all of that time is spent teaching/sitting with the student. But you have to be available. In the advanced grades, you will need to teach something you might not know yourself. In this case, you need to learn the subject yourself first, or use tutors, co-ops, etc. It all takes time.

Edited to add: My kids didn't have "homework" in the lower grades. They did have occasional projects they had to organize and work on independently. In the more advanced elementary grades, they got homework in some subjects (not the majority). In high school, they had homework in most subjects.


There are many different styles of homeschooling, and many different learning styles of children. Highly independent children who follow a radical unschooling approach may require hardly any direct input from their parents. I've also known very intense homeschoolers who spend crazy amounts of time on direct instruction with children they felt were behind, upwards of 8 hours daily. You can take as much time or as little time as your family needs to meet your educational objectives.

The homeschooling families I know (mostly elementary age) tend to do around 2 hours of direct parent interaction and around 2 hours of independent work, depending on the child. On weekends or holidays when I'm home to help with a special project or field trip, it can go a lot longer, but that's because we're having fun.

  • "You can take as much time or as little time as your family needs." I think this is not the norm (or helpful advice) for most homeschoolers. If you live in a state that requires submission of goals and objectives, outside review, mandated subjects, testing, etc., you can't get away with 'as little time as your family needs.' Oct 19 '15 at 20:54
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    I find your comment puzzling. Which is the norm, then? To take more time or to take less time than your family needs? Oct 19 '15 at 21:19
  • "You can take as much or as little..." implies (to me) that the amount of time you spend is totally your choice. My point is that that's rarely the case. There are mandates in different states that guarantee you will waste a lot of time (something I doubt your family needs.) If it means something different, perhaps you can elaborate a bit. Oct 20 '15 at 0:51
  • @Karl: I can't upvote the comment enough.
    – Jon Bannon
    Jan 13 '16 at 12:18

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