Not long ago, I was rushing my children to complete their school assignments and realized we were taking hours and hours to finish school. So, I decided to investigate how to minimize the time we spend each day doing homeschool.
How do you minimize the number of hours in a homeschool day? Reduce the busy work. Choose a curriculum that covers multiple subjects at once and gets rid of any subjects or assignments that can be included in Reading, Writing, or Arithmetic (Math).
Many subjects overlap and can be covered at once. The problem is that the people who make modern curriculums want to sell more stuff.
Furthermore, searching the internet for answers tends to send you straight back to those very people who created the problem in the first place.
So here, we’ll discuss what was revealed on my quest to minimize our homeschool hours so that you won’t have to repeat the search and waste even more of that precious time.
How Many Hours Does Your State Require?
First of all, you should always answer any homeschool question by beginning at square one.
Square one is where we keep the government out of our lives as much as possible. In a nutshell, you need to know the laws for your state. Give ‘em your pound of flesh. Pay the piper, if you will.
To accomplish the goal of minimizing the number of hours you spend doing schoolwork each day, you will first need to determine if your state or government officials require a set number of hours. In the United States, you can find this information by using the resources found on the HSLDA website.
Go here to find the Homeschool Laws in Your State. Then, click out of the little pop-up that’ll make you think you must sign up for services (you should, but that’s for another time).
Scroll down on the page that you have landed on and you will find a section about “Complying with YOUR STATE’S homeschool laws”.
If your state requires a set number of hours, it will tell you in this section.
What to do with this information?
Most likely, if your state requires a certain number of hours, it will give the number of hours required in an entire school year.
Simply divide this by the number of days you will do school for the year. The usual number of days is 180, and some states also require this; so, look for that information in the same section of the HSLDA website.
This will give you an idea of how many hours per day you would be required to do school to stay legal, so to speak.
This still looks like a lot of time to spend every day…
Don’t give up yet, we’re just making sure we’re at square one, here.
While many states might require a minimum number of days or hours, keep in mind that none of them really define a maximum number of days allowed.
This means that to minimize the hours you spend per day on homeschool, you might think that it’s necessary to do schoolwork more than the minimum required number of days. That’s not necessarily true, though it is an option.
However, before we go too far down the rabbit hole, let’s back up a minute and just make sure we are following the laws in our own state. Let’s keep them off our doorsteps. Then, we can go a bit deeper into how to minimize the number of hours we’re spending on homeschool each day.
Which Subjects Should be Covered?
The next logical step is to make sure that you know which subjects are required in your state.
This varies widely, so go back to that HSLDA page about complying with the homeschooling laws in your state and see what it says.
And keep in mind that I’m telling you to do this general stuff first because if your state is really strict (NEW YORK, we’re sneering at your Un-American regulations), you’ll want to make sure you give them as little reason as possible to hassle you. Otherwise, your homeschool hours might be minimized to ZERO, and your kiddo could be forced to attend a government school.
Below is an example of possible subjects that might be required in grades K-12. However, keep in mind that your state or location might require different subjects at different times. Always check your state laws.
- Reading/Library Skills/ English/Spelling
- Geography/History/U.S. history and Constitution/State History/Social Studies/Government/Economics/Patriotism and citizenship
- Health/About substance abuse/fire safety/Traffic safety and bike safety
- Art and Music/Visual and Practical arts/Electives
- Physical education
Now, we went through this information for a specific reason. We want you to be able to cover these subjects while only focusing on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic or Math (Arithmetic turns into Math, by the way).
And when you focus on these, the list above becomes the following:
- Arithmetic or Mathematics
- Art and Music/Visual and Practical arts/Electives
- Physical education
The reason you can do this is that the peripheral subjects of History, Science, Health, etc. (the subjects you can see have been removed from the bullet points), can be covered while doing Reading and Writing.
In simple terms, they can read about it, then write about it.
These subjects can be further reduced into two categories; deskwork, and physical activities.
In other words, things they must sit still to work on, and things they can play around with a bit.
That looks like this:
- Arithmetic or Mathematics/Reading/Writing
- Art and Music/Visual and Practical arts/Electives/Physical education
Now, doesn’t that look much more manageable?
You’ve got three tasks for deskwork and three to four things for physical activity.
*I say three to four physical activities because Electives are usually only assigned to Middle School and High School students instead of Art, Music, and P.E. Again, check your state’s requirements.
How to Schedule Desk Work and Physical Activities
The next obvious question is how to schedule the time for deskwork and physical activities.
First, they’ll need to complete deskwork each day. Choose your preferred number of days per week, then assign a specific task for each.
In The MiniMize Homeschool Method, we recommend that your students read a minimum of one chapter, write one side of one page (skipping lines), and do a lesson from their math or spend an hour memorizing facts each day.
While is hard to say how long a child will take, my own 8-year-old can do all three on his own without help in under two hours. Your child may be different.
Now, if you help or push them along, this may be done even quicker; however, we strongly advise you to resist doing either of these things. It is our opinion at The MiniMize Life that helping a child with this type of schooling method will hinder them going forward. The only direct instruction your child will need from you should be while learning to read.
The physical activities are more manageable when you take them one at a time. An easy way to do this is to divide them into seasons. Do one during summer, one during winter, etc., etc. Then, dedicate an hour and a half each day to accomplish these activities.
This means that homeschool could be accomplished within 3 – 4 hours each day.
Is MiniMizing to 3-4 Hours of Daily Homeschool Possible?
Yes, it is; if your child will sit down and get the tasks done.
At this point, you know what your State is commanding you to do and for how long. And we’ve shown you an example of how to boil the subjects required for study down into two manageable categories.
Then, we explained how to schedule these steps. But if you need a bit more, for whatever reason, there are other tips and tricks we can give you to help minimize the hours you spend on homeschool each day.
The next steps will walk you through ways in which you can fit these two categories into as few hours as possible without sacrificing a thorough education.
How to use Audiobooks to Reduce the Hours of Homeschool
Audiobooks are awesome. And we can use them to MiniMize the number of hours in a homeschool day.
In the earlier years, you can use audiobooks to help your child stay on track and read along. This reduces the likelihood of daydreaming.
You know, the staring and all of the NOT reading they do. Believe me, one of the biggest problems when trying to minimize hours homeschooling is trying to prod your reader along to the next paragraph.
As your student gets older, these audiobooks take on a whole new role. They can allow your students to read a book in less time.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You want them to read the book, not listen; but hear me out.
At some point, you’re going to want your child to go faster in the reading list and this is a great time-saving technique.
Have your student read one chapter to themselves like normal and then listen to the next chapter while doing chores or P.E.
Yep, I just suggested you combine reading and P.E.
Additionally, you have the option to do this as a group, playing the book on speakers for everyone to hear; or individually using smaller devices and headphones while doing chores.
This last suggestion probably depends on how many children you have and whether they are all reading the same book at the same time.
Preparation: Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole
School will take longer if your focus is on tracking down information, or if you’re tired from staying up late tracking down information.
You just won’t have the energy to do both well.
And the fact of the matter is that homeschool teachers (parents, guardians, or what have you) often find themselves putting their research skills to work no matter what their personal preferences might be.
We scour Amazon for hours, and Google is our best friend and worst enemy. We homeschoolers go down the rabbit hole daily.
The Best Advice You’ll Ever Get
Let me give you a tip.
Amazon and Google will suck the time right out of your day.
And don’t even think about going to that super helpful Facebook group if you’re minimizing time, here. If you do that, you’ll find yourself answering questions about the best curriculum on how to teach a six-year-old to blow his nose.
That’s no joke; true story.
It’s going to get worse…
There’s more bad news. The very best way, and maybe the only way, to determine which book to choose is to read them all.
But that’s not going to work if you are also cooking, cleaning the house, or working a full-time job while homeschooling, is it?
Not to mention, unless you’re wealthy, you probably can’t afford to buy every book under the sun before handing it to your kid, either.
That’s no way to minimize anything.
But there’s good news, too.
I Feel Your Pain
I feel it. Really deep down; I feel it.
For YEARS I have lived in the rabbit hole. I wanted less work, more results, and cheaper options.
I wanted my time back without handing my children over to the proverbial Romans.
That’s why I’m doing all of this for you using the open-source books recommended by The MiniMize Life.
Now, there are lots of book lists out there. Some are almost identical to ours, and if you want to use them, that is absolutely what you should do.
The fact is, to minimize the number of hours you homeschool each day, you have to make a decision.
Don’t Google it. Make a choice.
Whether the books are listed on this website, or on other sites. Choose a booklist.
But, if you use open-source books and need a little bit more, a little activity to make the lesson stick, a worksheet to track your student’s progress…
I’ve come out of the rabbit hole bearing gifts!
I want homeschoolers that use these old books to be able to minimize the hours in their homeschool day no matter if they’re a student or a parent.
That’s tip number everything. I am publishing everything I know about these old books as quickly as I am able to type.
What I’ve Found
I can point you to free resources, encyclopedic information on the topic, where to buy the book if you don’t want to print, or use eReaders, where to find Audiobooks… there’s a ton of information and you don’t have to search for it anymore!
Go check it out.