I never expected to be homeschooling my kids. Even now, after 20 years of homeschooling I wouldn’t consider myself a “homeschooler” because my kids school work did not take up the majority of my day or efforts. Having a good, solid homeschool schedule is the foundation to keeping school under control at home and not taking over the entire family’s life!

Homeschool Schedule recommended by the Illinois Board of Education
Let’s look at reasonable ways to homeschool

Finally, a Homeschool Schedule By Grade that really works!

This article was originally written when many families were forced into homeschooling unexpectedly. So much of what was being written about homeschooling at that time was unreasonable and unworkable in a real-family situation! But I really liked the way the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) described their recommended homeschool schedule in a published document on how to engage kids while they learn at home in a daily schedule.

It’s not traditional homeschooling. It’s also not traditional classroom learning. This “homeschool” experience is something completely different and more like what I have been doing successfully for years.

home learning schedule for parents and kids
Home school doesn’t mean all day in front of a computer

The biggest takeaway for parents doing education at home? 

Your kids don’t need to sit at a computer all day to learn and complete their schoolwork.

The ISBE shared a nifty little chart that helped me breath a sigh of relief. It shows “suggested minimum and maximum times of engagement by each student in remote learning activities.” Making a weekly schedule that fits for the school day and school year makes routine a lot easier.

Download & print the ISBE schedulethe information discussed in this article is on pages 18 & 19.

At-home learning
Source: Oops & Daisies

 Illinois State Board of Education Homeschool Hours by Age Chart

These recommended times — which are broken down by grade level — are something I think a lot of parents can get behind. It also shares the typical attention span of the students, based on age/grade level. 

eLearning chart for homeschooling from ISBE
Source: ISBE

Homeschool Schedule by Grade

Pre-K Home HOmeschool Schedule

These are the recommendations for Pre-Kindergarten students studying at home in block schedule:

  • Minimum daily learning time: 20 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: 60 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 3-5 minutes

Related: Our how to homeschool preschool, best preschool workbooks & Kindergarten readiness checklist

Kindergarten HomeSchool Schedule

These are the recommendations for K students studying at home in block schedule or chunk of time:

  • Minimum daily learning time: 30 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: 90 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 3-5 minutes

Grades 1 & 2 HomeSchool Schedule

These are the recommendations for first grade & second grade students studying at home in block schedule chunks of time:

  • Minimum daily learning time: 45 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: 90 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 5-10 minutes

Grades 3, 4 & 5 HomeSchool Schedule

These are the recommendations for third, fourth & fifth grade students studying at home in block schedule:

  • Minimum daily learning time: 60 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: 120 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 10-15 minutes

Grades 6, 7 & 8 HomeSchool Schedule

These are the recommendations for sixth, seventh & eighth grade students studying at home in block schedule:

  • Minimum daily learning time: each class = 15 minutes; total = 90 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: each class = 30 minutes; total = 180 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 1 class

High School Homeschool Schedule

These are the recommendations for 9th-12th grade students studying at home in block schedule:

  • Minimum daily learning time: each class = 20 minutes; total = 120 minutes
  • Maximum daily learning time: each class = 45 minutes; total = 270 minutes
  • Recommended Length of Sustained Attention: 1 class

Additional Homeschooling Schedule Ideas

To supplement remote virtual learning, the ISBE also shares some “enrichment” activities for your homeschooling day. These activity recommendations are primarily targeted toward preschool and elementary-aged students and give flexibility to lessons in a fun way and add learning to free time.

These are homeschool experiences without the use of a device which can lead to independent learning during specific times (and give a little quiet time too).

ISBE recommended activities for homeschooling
Source: ISBE

Homeschool Schedule Ideas: Mind activities

Homeschool Schedule Ideas: Body activities

Homeschool Schedule Ideas: Spirit activities

Homeschool Schedule Ideas: Environment activities

Homeschooling Schedule Ideas: Family Activities

The Illinois’s Board of Education wrote these guidelines in an “unprecedented moment.” But the smart, realistic guidelines are not out of date today! Kids are used to learning in a different way and that is OK!

play time for homeschoolers
Don’t forget about play time!

Homeschooling Schedule Ideas: Learning beyond the classroom

But as these guidelines show, eLearning is far from the only way to support our kid’s education right now. Kids can learn through independent play, through exploring. through making art, through building blocks and forts, and spending time outdoors.

And yes, life skills — like cleaning their room — count as learning experiences too. 

While guidelines from other states may vary, hopefully these recommendations from the ISBE can help parents take some pressure off of themselves.

We’re all just doing the best we can! 

More Recommended Activities from Kids Activities Blog

What do you think of the homeschool schedule?

 Homeschool Schedule FAQs

Do you have to do every subject every day homeschool?

One of the best things about homeschooling is that you get to set your own schedule and that looks very different for each family and even each child. Some homeschool families follow traditional school schedule rotating through each subject daily like a classroom might. Other homeschool families might approach one subject for an entire week or even month. When deciding what might be the best choice for your child, think about some of these things:
Depth over breadth: Focusing on fewer subjects each day allows your child to delve more deeply into each area. It also means you’re not constantly shifting gears, which can be particularly helpful for children who have a hard time with transitions. If your child is weak in a certain subject, you can spend more time in that area. Don’t be afraid to breeze through things that are picked up easily!
Block scheduling: Some homeschoolers use a model where they focus intensely on one or two subjects for a week or more at a time. For example, they might do a deep dive into history, reading historical novels, visiting museums, watching documentaries, and so forth, then switch to a focus on science. This works really well for field trips in the community, study with a homeschooling group or travel to area of study.
Child’s interests and energy levels: If your child is particularly interested in a subject, he/she might want to spend more time on it, or work on it more frequently. Similarly, you might schedule more demanding work for the times of day when your child tends to be more focused and energetic. We found in our homeschooling experience that my boys would breeze through things in the morning if they knew they could play more in the afternoon when they weren’t as focused anyway!
Integration across subjects: Many topics can be integrated across different subjects. For instance, reading a historical novel (literature) that provides information about a particular time period (history), may involve looking up places on a map (geography), or could inspire a related art project (art). Math can be taught through practical application like cooking (measurement), shopping (money and calculation), or even while learning about architecture (geometry).
Regulations and requirements: Make sure to check the regulations in your state or country, as some places have requirements for homeschooling that include covering certain subjects.

Can you homeschool without buying a curriculum?

You absolutely can homeschool without buying a curriculum, but if you are just getting started I recommend starting with a framework that inspires you and then deviating from there. There are free online curriculums like Khan Academy and multiple YouTube channels that can guide you to develop your own plan.
I would also encourage you to join your local homeschool group. It may be a little overwhelming at first (homeschoolers are usually way more active than people expect), but you will find friends and other families who have learned a lot and are willing to share what they know.
There are other types of homeschooling which are not curriculum based that you might want to explore before choosing a homeschool curriculum:
Eclectic Homeschooling: This method involves pulling resources from a variety of places to tailor a program that fits your child’s unique needs. This might include online resources, library books, workbooks, and learning through practical experiences.
Unschooling: This is a type of homeschooling that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction.
Project-Based Learning: This is a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. The child chooses a project of interest to them and learns various subjects through the execution of the project.
World Schooling: In world schooling, the world is the inspiration for study. Some families will travel and then explore all the aspects of history, geography, science, culture, art within the places they visit. Other families might do their traveling virtually, yet explore through books, online resources, food, local resources and people they know from home.

Do homeschool kids do well in life?

There is a wide range of research that suggests homeschooled children can do very well in life, in many different respects. Here are a few ways that homeschooling can potentially benefit students:
Academic Performance: Multiple studies have shown that homeschooled students often perform as well as or better than their traditionally-schooled peers on standardized tests. They also typically have high graduation rates from high school and college. Check out Dr. Brian Ray of National Home Education Research Institute study, “Academic Achievement and Demographic Traits of Homeschool Students: A Nationwide Study.”
Socialization: While concerns about socialization are often raised in discussions about homeschooling, research suggests that homeschooled students often participate in a wide range of social activities outside the home and are typically well-adjusted socially. They usually have ample opportunities for interaction with people of different ages and backgrounds. (Medlin, R. G. “Homeschooling and the question of socialization.” Peabody Journal of Education 75/1-2 (2000): 107-123.)
Independence and Self-Motivation: Homeschooling can encourage self-directed learning, helping students to develop a strong sense of independence and motivation. This can serve them well in both higher education and the workforce, where self-discipline and initiative are highly valued. According to a study by Romanowski (2006), homeschooling fosters traits like self-reliance and self-motivation that can facilitate success in higher education and adult life.
Customized Learning: Homeschooled children often have more opportunities to learn at their own pace, explore their interests deeply, and to have their education tailored to their individual learning style. This can contribute to a love of learning and a deep understanding of their areas of interest. Check out this study by Cogan in 2010 for more information.
Success in College and Beyond: Many homeschooled students have been successful in gaining admission to colleges and universities and often perform well once there. Additionally, many have gone on to successful careers in a wide range of fields. In a study by Gloeckner and Jones (2004), it was found that homeschooled students were generally successful in college and were often involved in more extracurricular activities than their peers.
It’s important to note that while these are potential benefits of homeschooling, they are not guaranteed. The success of a homeschool education can depend on many factors, including the quality of instruction, the student’s engagement and motivation, the resources available, and the support the student receives.
On a personal note, all three of my boys were partially homeschooled and two of them are now in college. They both have said that college is “easy” compared to what they were learning and because they have been completely independent and responsible for their learning for years, studying on their own in college wasn’t even a transition. They got into the colleges they desired with scholarships and have done well with their studies so far.

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