How can a work-from-home dad homeschool his son? I get this question often and mostly from bewildered parents. You might ask yourself how in the world to schedule the classes around your workday?
As a busy homeschooling dad, I block 4 hours for homeschooling for my elementary school-aged son, Aaron. It may seem like a long time, but let me explain! We didn’t start with 4 hours. We only did 20-30 minutes per lesson per day in the beginning. Our son is 7 years old now, and we do the following 3 core subjects every day, 4-5 days per week: Language Arts, Math, and Handwriting.
I find that this amount of time is perfect for this age and gives us a buffer because many times it doesn't take a full 4 hours. At times, only 2 hours is needed depending on the subject, my son’s mood, and nature!
You might think, “Wait a minute, I don’t have that much time!” As a homeschooling family, we find that being flexible is the best part!
No Time for Homeschooling?
The good news is you don't have to follow the usual schedule.
I follow a basic schedule now of 3-4 hours in the morning before noon to finish the core courses: handwriting, language arts, and math. We usually wrap up breakfast, and my son gets ready and starts with his handwriting. We like this because it lets him also ease into the homeschool day by himself without any need for me to supervise. We think of it as a warmup for the day.
If for some reason we cannot finish the core subjects in the morning, we do them later in the afternoon or evening. Our target is to finish these 3 courses every day at least 4 times per week. Some mornings, if we start by 8:30 am, we can be done by 10:30 am and then do something fun. Again, being flexible certainly is a benefit of homeschooling.
Take 10-minute Breaks
Core Lessons, First Grade (2-3 hours per day of seatwork)
Between each lesson, I give my son 10 minutes to play or read or do something he wants to relax and break up the classes. He might pop in his room to play with his Lego Technic set. Or he might go in the living room to check the plants he is growing or just read. Some days he doesn’t want to take a break because he would like to finish early. That’s great too!
|30min||Reading—every morning when he wakes|
|20min||Handwriting—everyday (this is the warmup done independently)|
|30-40min||Language Arts—daily Monday to Friday|
|1:40min||Soccer—Monday to Friday (4:00 pm to 5:40 pm)|
|Note:||10-min breaks between the 3 core classes|
|40-50min||Science—Earth, Planets, Weather, Ecology (once a week)|
|30-40min||Mandarin Lessons—twice per week|
|1:40min||Music—drums, practice twice per week, 1hr Friday lesson,|
Try a Soft Start
Depending on your child's level, you might need less than a few hours per day to homeschool. Perhaps we had an ideal situation, but we soft started Aaron our son when he was around 5 years old. He was in a normal kindergarten from morning to 6 pm. However, in the evenings after work, I would pick him up, and then I would teach him phonics and other simple subjects. I call it a soft start because it was only 20-30 minutes per lesson.
While we prepared dinner, he would do a lesson by himself with minimal input from me to allow him to feel it was fun. If he felt bored or too tired, I would let him skip it. But over six months, he got used to the lessons and we added to the time spent and lessons taught. It became our “habit.”
This served two purposes. First, it let him get used to me, his dad, teaching him something. It also allowed me to test my skills and get used to teaching him formally. I believe this helped the transition for him to smoothly accept homeschooling full-time. We started that formally at the beginning of 2021, and luckily for us, we did. COVID-19 restrictions in local school systems seemed to create so many challenges for parents around the world.
However, for us, things were perfectly normal. We had classes every day and could even complete the material more efficiently than if Aaron were in a traditional school. After finishing Level 1 language arts and math quite early, we decided to continue with Level 2.
Flexibility & Consistency are Key
We find homeschooling our son to be a fun challenge. But we also learned that by consistently doing 5-day school weeks with an occasional missed day, we could still fly through our material. If our son were in a traditional school there would be no way to speed ahead or slow down to his pace. So we love the flexibility homeschooling gives our family to adjust and give our son an excellent education.
No one says you must do school at a certain time of day every day! As parents who both work from home with flexibility, we find this to be the most satisfying way for everyone. We provide a quality curriculum and education to our son in the most efficient way. We’ve seen the local school curriculum and schedule that would keep our son most likely bored in a classroom all day. Luckily we learned about homeschooling early and planned to implement it while he was still in kindergarten. The soft start really was so smooth for us as we found the best way to schedule and structure our homeschool.
Photo credit: First image, iStock. Following images courtesy of author.