What counts as a school day?

I often wonder what counts as a school day.  Some days we just breeze through everything in two hours and I think yeah, homeschooling is so easy I can do it with one hand tied behind my back.  More often we get through everything but it takes longer than two hours because we have to take a long break to play outside, or because two siblings prefer to fight over who gets to use the green pencil and who has to use a plain yellow one, or because I’m trying to simultaneously teach Latin and do eight loads of laundry. 

Then there are the days when it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to do anything at all and we wind up hitting lunch time with everyone still in their pajamas, having only finished Bible and half of a reading lesson.

I figure there are three main options when it comes to what counts as a school day:

  1. Decide that a school day lasts a certain number of hours. This is the standard school approach.  I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of time in school watching videos and sitting around waiting for other kids to finish worksheets.  Since my kids don’t watch a lot of videos and only have their siblings to wait for, if we took this approach our day could be considerably shorter than the standard public school day.
  2. Decide that a school day means certain subjects were covered. Bible is easy to do for us since we cover that during breakfast, but in terms of other subjects, I guess if I were to pick a real core I would say maybe reading, math, and Latin?  I don’t know where I would draw the line for this option, since I really think all the subjects I cover are important, or else I wouldn’t be covering them in the first place.
  3. Figure that the whole “school day” concept is overrated and focus on turning out kids who get their work done in one way or another. I realize that at some level it doesn’t really matter what constitutes a school day as long as the kids are learning and staying at or above grade level.  In our state you don’t have to keep records of attendance until the child is seven, so fortunately I have time to perfect my system!

If you homeschool, what do you count as a school day?  Do you count by hours or by subjects or some other way?

4 thoughts on “What counts as a school day?

  1. When you were Hannah’s age, you went to preschool 3 mornings a week, 9-12:00. You did reading, math, art, playtime, and who knows what else. So, 9 hours a week; when Thomas was 4, he went to preschool 2 mornings a week. So I think you are already spending far more time than the average child gets at the ages Jack and Hannah are and they are already beyond their peers in achievement. When you were homeschooled in middle school it only took you 2 or 3 hours to get everything done in a day. Remember finishing your Saxon Algebra 1 book by January in Korea? My favorite students ever, especially after teaching in the public schools for 15 years!

  2. Our day length is determined by what we need to cover. Our state is one of the hardest to homeschool in, so we have that end of the year deadline to meet. I took the books for each subject and figured out what needed to be done each quarter to finish fairly close to the end of June. From the “each quarter” approach, I could break it down to weeks and days, throwing in things like holidays and knowing we’d need a few extra non school days here and there. Some days are just brutal and others are lighter, but I break it up as needed. If everyone is in the school mood, we pound out as much as we can w/o a break. If we’re tired and have attitudes, we’ll have lots of breaks.

    1. Thia, I can’t remember which state you’re in, but part of my desire to keep good records is wanting to develop the habit of keeping track so that if laws change or we move to a more strict state we will be prepared. It sounds like you do a ton of advance planning – I admire that!

  3. One of several requirements for our state is that we have to turn in a portfolio with samples of our child’s work and a log of materials covered. Next year will be the first year that we are required to register and submit our portfolio, but I’m planning to use what I’ve done this year. We have a daily plan book with days of the week running down the side and subjects written in across the top. I go through all subjects before the beginning of the year and write in the pages that need to be covered for each day (some subjects, like science and history, we don’t do every day). This way, my child can also look up what she needs to do next, or can tell me what page we’re on, etc. And then we check things off as we do them. This was helpful when I was on bedrest during the fall and our twins were born prematurely in December. My husband and others who helped us could tell exactly where we were and what needed to be done next. And sometimes we’d essentially do a “half day,” so this helped us stay even with the subjects. I’m glad now that I only marked off the weeks (I could have entered the dates) so we were not overwhelmed when we were “behind” the schedule. Now we’re nearly caught up again, but it doesn’t matter that much since we usually have a lighter schedule but continue through the summer.

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