Done by Noon: A Look at Our Typical Homeschool Day

One question we frequently get asked about homeschooling is how long we actually spend on it each day.  Our schedule and lesson plans have experienced some major changes since we started homeschooling, but one thing hasn’t:  for the most part, our typical homeschool day ends at noon.

Done by Noon: A Look at Our Typical Homeschool Day

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Done by noon. Unfortunately done by noon requires further explanation.  You see, those three words are usually met with some interesting facial expressions.  Maybe it sounds too good to be true.  Maybe it sounds like we’re complete flakes.  Maybe it sounds like we do nothing at all.

All I know is that the kids smile and most adults sneer when learning that our typical homeschool day ends at noon.  I consider myself an ambassador for homeschooling, so I’m happy to provide some further detail at this point in the conversation.  After all, done by noon would’ve probably shocked me too at one point in my life.

A Look at Our Typical Homeschool Day

This is a general look at our daily routine because we don’t following a set schedule at this point in our homeschool journey.  I don’t necessarily schedule our days, but I’m very aware of our direction for the year at all times.

Keeping that direction in mind, I spend a couple of hours every two weeks going through our curricula and entering assignments for both of my kids into Homeschool Planet (See my Homeschool Planet review here).  That keeps us on track each day and provides accountability for the things we need to accomplish each day and each week.

On a typical homeschool day, our morning looks something like this for my oldest child, a fifth-grader:

  • 9:00 AM – Language Arts
  • 9:30 AM – Math
  • 10:00 AM – Geography
  • 10:20 AM – Science
  • 10:50 AM – Music
  • 11:15 AM – History
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch, Devotions, & Read Alouds

I’m involved in his history and science lessons, but language arts, math, and geography usually happen without much input from me.   Since The Boy is able to complete much of his work independently, I’m more of an administrator and a guide for him in those subjects. I’m always aware of what he’s learning and available if he needs help, but the fact that he’s transitioned to self-led learning helps tremendously when it comes to working with Prissy.

Done by Noon - A Look at a Typical Homeschool Day

Prissy is four years-old and has a much looser homeschool routine.  I spend around 30 minutes each day helping her with lessons from her preschool curriculum.  Those lessons focus on letters, numbers, and other foundational concepts, but don’t require much time at the table. In addition to her curriculum, I go through one lesson from The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading with her.

After that, she’s technically done for the day.  Is she finished learning? Not at all!  She usually sits in on The Boy’s history lesson, then she’s still learning through playtime, books we’re reading together, and even through her favorite Kindle apps. She’s even learning by helping me with things around the house!  There’s a lot of learning that still happens, but it’s not scheduled.

How We Pull it Off Before Noon

How do we do it all each day?  We don’t!  That’s by design, though.  We spend four days a week following our homeschool routine and spend one day with our homeschool co-op group.  In our co-op group, we cover art, STEM, and physical education together each week.  Therefore, those things aren’t typically incorporated into what we’re doing on a daily basis in our homeschool.

Another thing to keep in mind for us is that we don’t cover every subject each day.  History, science, and music are usually limited to two or three days a week.   Grammar is planned for two days each week, but creative writing and Spanish only happen once throughout the week.  Math and geography are our only subjects that happen every day.

Days with fewer subjects have assignments that take longer to complete, but days with a full load don’t have lengthy assignments.  This helps to keep our homeschool days from being overwhelming for the kids and even me.

Done by noon: A look at our typical homeschool day

It’s also worth noting here that we school year-round.  Sort of.  It’s mostly that we don’t really stop unless we’re out of town.  Homeschooling year-round has always been a good fit for us and is ultimately what makes it possible finish our typical homeschool days by noon.

A Look at Our Non-scheduled Time

Our planned homeschool time is usually over around noon, but the remainder of our days tend to follow a routine as well.  After we clear our homeschool table, it’s time for lunch, devotions, and a chapter in our read-aloud.   Currently we’re working through The Plans I Have for You and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone together.  I’m sure that combination makes some folks cringe.  😉

Once that’s finished, we work towards naptime for Prissy and and free time for The Boy.  His free time is spent playing video games (he has a daily time limit), building with LEGOs, working on the art project of his choice, journaling, working on his comic book characters, and reading. (His current selections are a Picasso biography and Magic Tree House book on World War II).

I love that he has his entire afternoon to pursue hobbies and self-led learning.  Just like Prissy’s morning time, he may not have a scheduled afternoon, but he’s still exploring and learning all day long!

While The Boy is enjoying free time,  Prissy is napping.  I use this time to write and do other blog-related work, but what happens after that varies according to each day and what we’ve got going on as a family.  That’s another reason homeschooling half a day works so well.   Having a morning routine we can bank on helps tremendously since our late afternoon and evening obligations vary from day to day and often week to week.

Masterpiece Society Studio

That’s a general idea of what we have going on each day.  Being done by noon on a typical homeschool day may sound crazy to some, but it’s a perfect fit for us!

Oh, and if you’re wondering if this whole being finished by noon thing happens when the kids are a bit older, I’d love for you to check out this Updated Look at Our Homeschool Day. In it, I share how we’re able to make it work while homeschooling 1st and 7th grades.

Done by Noon: A look at our typical homeschool day

PS: this post is a part of My Joy-filled Life’s Top 100 Homeschool Posts of 2016.

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29 thoughts on “Done by Noon: A Look at Our Typical Homeschool Day”

    1. Read alouds can show up on both areas for us. I tend to classify the ones we read to cover certain topics as core reading, but the “just because” books as non core. For example, Along Came Galileo was a core book for us, but Anne of Green Gables was simply a great book for us to experience together.

  1. Thanks for writing such a wonderful article! I love seeing other homeschooler’s schedule. My kids are doing online schooling so we try to finish all before afternoon so they can get some playing time. We can structure our day so well with online schooling.

  2. Michelle Weston

    Good morning,
    I have been trying to home school my child for some years now. We tried k12, and that didn’t work out very well for us. He has been out of school for approximately 4 years now. Im worried that I am not teaching him what he needs to know. I have not gotten any help from anyone, and not from a lack of trying. My son also has add, so that makes things a bit more challenging. We live with my mother who is disables and she has her own ideas of how my son should be schooled. I am a very laid back person and I used to take my son to different museums and other places. We would learn that way. I believe in a hands on kind of approach.
    If you have any suggestions about what Im doing and how I can do things differently or better, Please let me know. I’m open to suggestions.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Michelle,
      It’s hard to know exactly what direction to point you for sure, but one good starting place is to figure out your personal thoughts on education and what it should look like in your home. This Homeschool 101 post and the video included in it should help you define that philosophy. Speaking from personal experience, it’s much easier to know how to proceed with curriculum purchases, schedules (or lack of), etc when you know how that philosophy.

      As for some general guidelines on what topics to cover and when, I’ve always liked Home Learning Year by Year. It goes from preschool to high school and gives suggestions on what topics and skills to cover each year. You certainly don’t have to follow it perfectly and it’s up to you to decide how you cover the topics, but it’s a good guide if you’re feeling like there are some things you may be forgetting. Hope all of this helps! <3

  3. I am embarking on my homeschool journey for the first time and feel so blessed to do so!
    I have so much joy but now that we have started I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. I feel like I am trying to over structurize and I am a more go with the flow personality type. I have a. Grade one abs grade five and just need to learn how to gauge how much they need within a day.

    I have from seven thirty am until 130 pm to teach and then I work every night 2 till 11.

    They have one day a week where they do strictly music lessons and dance and swimming

    Anyways I have found some comfort in this post so thank you for sharing … I’ll now try be recenter and breathe haha

    1. What an exciting time for you, Chantel! I know what you mean about trying to overstructurize. I think it’s easy for us as homeschoolers to feel like everything needs to fit in the same box or time frame as it would in a different educational environment, but the best gift we can give ourselves is to remember that we don’t have to replicate what happens elsewhere. Your homeschool flow can be yours and yours alone. It may take time to find the schedule or routine that works best for you, but don’t stress about spending less time on homeschooling than you expected. It’s something to celebrate. 🙂

  4. I cannot wait to begin homeschooling my daughter again, 6th grade, this coming school year. We homeschooled her 3rd & 4th grade but she was worried that she wasn’t learning enough since we too were done by noon most days. She asked to go back to school for 5th grade, we allowed her as we don’t want any regrets in the teen years. The first thing she noticed was she was an entire year ahead of everyone in class! She has even told me that she never knew how much she was actually learning. She was shocked at how much time is “wasted” in school (her words), she has also said the teachers are just baby sitters through much of the day, and her frustration with it has come to a head. She has asked to be homeschooled again until high school, like her siblings – hallelujah!
    We are so excited, happy and grateful to be back in the homeschool world, and “done by noon” schedule again.

  5. I love this! I was homeschooled and until I reached high school, my homeschool days typically ended around noon as well. It was totally the best to end so early and hardly anyone ever believed it! Sometimes I was even done by eleven. In my freshman and possibly sophomore year of high school, I still finished my core subjects around noon-two, but then after that was reading I needed to complete for school. Once I started my junior and senior year, I was pretty much studying all day, sometimes after dinner, but I guess that’s to be expected when you have more to complete in high school. Still, I loved those early elementary days!!

  6. Love this post! We homeschool for two to three hours a day and mostly done by noon also, unless we swap to the afternoon so we can have a morning play date with friends. Love allowing an open schedule for discovery and play. So refreshing and encouraging to see others doing the same! I have an 7,5 and 2 year old so we are enjoying learning through play and curiosity. My goal is to establish a love of learning by modeling life long learning habits. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Pingback: Top 100 Homeschool Posts of 2016 - My Joy-Filled Life

  8. I love your schedule. It reminds me of our days when my dd was younger. Even now, as a teen in high school, doing all her work independently with minor oversight from me, her schedule runs until only about 1pm on most days. She learned from our years of getting started and getting done early to keep it up. It sure frees up the afternoons for pursuing other activities or going to appointments.

  9. This is our family’s first year homeschooling. We have a little girl heading into 4th grade who is a very independent worker/self starter and we have a little man who struggled so much through 1st grade that he has an awful taste in his mouth for any kind of “schooling”. After explaining our situation and how the past 4 years of our lives have gone…our evaluator recommended that we go through a process of “unschooling”. She advises that we take the year off and spend our time together getting to know each other again, deciding what we want our family unit to look like, and observing how the kids learn best. I love the idea, but feel a little nervous about that approach. Have you ever heard of this process? I think my daughter would like to start a routine of schooling. But my little guy would fight me tooth and nail right now. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    1. Hi Libby, I haven’t personally experienced unschooling or deschooling, as some call it, but I do think you could greatly benefit from it, especially considering your son’s formal school experiences. Some time off, even if not a full year, will give you time to reset and start fresh when you’re ready.

      I think reading with your kids is the best thing you can do right now. Spend time at the library and let them choose books that interest them. You can also work through some good read-aloud books too. Other than that, I would let them play. Let them build with LEGOs, explore art, play board games, or whatever they enjoy. Go outside and explore nature. This deschooling time can have some learning elements like books and art, but it doesn’t need to resemble school in any way.

      If you feel like your daughter needs to do something because of her independent nature, you might introduce some gentle learning elements, but nothing that would need to be scheduled or heavily monitored. You might even consider something like All in One Homeschool or even just a couple of subjects through it. With something like that, she could continue to satisfy her independent nature in a very low-stress (and often fun) way and transition to homeschool at her own pace. It’s primarily computer-based and would be considerably different from her public school experience. It’s totally comprehensive, but it might serve the same purpose as deschooling for her since it would look nothing like what she’s known in the past.

      Ultimately, enjoy this time with no pressure to plan or figure it out. As your evaluator said, this is the perfect time to get a feel for your family’s needs. Feel free to email me if you have further questions… I’d love to help and to know how things are going. You can find my address in the contact info in my menu.

  10. I have gotten a lot of the same looks when I say we are usually done by lunchtime. But it’s august and we are doing math, and handwriting, and science today. Not a full day, but we do a little school most days. My kids were in public school up until last year. I think learning this summer has started to change their thinking a lot tile that the school year and school day are set in stone. They are just beginning to see the benefit of this flexible schedule. I also think it makes learning a more natural part of your child’s life when there is no beginning and end day for learning.

  11. We try really hard to be done by noon also. But we don’t keep to a strict “start time” so some days we have a thing or two to finish after lunch. We love having lots of extra time in our days to do our own things.

  12. When we homeschooled I tried to be done by noon, too. At least our “book work.” They had increasingly more homework as they got older, but they still spent far less time that kids in school. My kids did great in spite of me being laid back.

  13. What so many people don’t understand is that when the Public School system sends a Teacher to a Home-bound student for learning, that student only has the teacher for 8-12 MAX per week. When you have a smaller “class” ratio, you can accomplish far more in a fraction of the time.

  14. Thanks so much for a wonderful article!! We try to be done at noon as well, but continue “teaching” all day. It’s nice to know we are all out there doing similar things and thriving in our own ways. How blessed are we to be doing this with our children!?!!

  15. I’d love to know what curriculums you are using. I have a fifth grader and a second grader. I too would LOVE to be done by noon, but each subject seems to take longer than I think it should.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I wrote a post at the beginning of our school year that talks about what we’re using this year: Back to Homeschool: Curriculum Choices for 5th Grade. Everything is pretty much the same in that post except for science. Our original science curriculum choice hasn’t been a good match for us. Instead we’ve been using topical chemistry and physics-related units I got from CurrClick! 🙂

  16. I really want to begin homeschooling my middle schooler. Any tips on how to get started or previous blogs I may have missed?

    1. Hi Melissa, thanks so much for stopping by! I wrote my Considering Homeschool Series when I started blogging. That series is one you’ll want to check out, especially the Transitioning to Homeschool post!

      Also, if you’re on Pinterest, you’ll want to pin this one: 15 Blogs to Follow for Homeschooling Middle School. I know what works well for us, but my oldest is only 9. We haven’t crossed the middle school bridge yet! 😉

      Good luck and please let me know if I can help in any way!

      1. I hope I don’t step on toes but I love listening to Heidi St. John on the subject of homeschooling called The Busy Moms podcasts. They are free and such a blessing to hear. She did a couple sessions on how to start, and the why to homeschooling, and many other topics. I hope this is helpful

        1. You’re certainly not stepping on toes, Jennifer! I’m grateful for you sharing resources you’ve found helpful. I love podcasts too, but am not familiar with that specific series since it came along well after our homeschool journey started. 🙂

        2. Christina Kodis

          Thank you for taking the time to share your routine, I googled “How to make a homeschool daily schedule that will actually be followed”and Very happy to see your method obviously working! My mouth just dropped when I Read the titles “the boy” was reading for enjoyment. I am having a hard time “UNSCHOOLING: My 2 middle boys 9and 6.yo They lost their excitement and drive for learning, reading etc. So putting my career on hold indefinitely and starting a more rewarding Career or lifestyle as A mommy. so I will be following your writing closely! One quick question I’m dying to ask but having trouble wording is Do your kids see you at you as a “teacher” from 8-12pm? OR asmommy all the time? Especially Prissy. I cant seem to get them to fully stay on topic very long when we are “in a lesson when we are having open discussions about what we are working on. Like we will discuss a book aloud then it turns into my 6y0 asking about uncle Bob’s broken toe,or when I’m 10 can I ride a dirt bike. Is this something that I can change? Or is it normal and I should just let it go? Ty ty ty I look forward to reading more of your advice and ideas.
          Christina (Boy mom of 4!!

          1. The best way I know to explain it is that I’m more of a partner or guide. While I technically “teach” them in a lot of areas, learning together has been a part of our family culture from the beginning. We’ve always had a discussion-based format, so everyone was encouraged to share thoughts and observations.

            As for staying on topic, I’m a believer in short lessons whenever possible. And the younger the kiddo, the shorter the lesson! In fact, I’ve read before that the average child can pay attention for three times his age; so that would be about 12 minutes for a 4-year-old.

            All that to say, it sounds like what you’re dealing with is fairly normal. 😉 That doesn’t make it easier to deal with, but it’s a common issue. Also, be sure to ask them what they’d like to learn. Giving them some input can go a long way in getting them motivated. You can still ask them to do what you’ve planned for them, but my kids always appreciate having input and look forward to their chosen topics.

  17. We are usually done by noon too so I know what you mean about the stares you get! We loosely homeschool year round and other than reading, math and language arts the topics we’ll cover from day to day and month to month vary greatly. It’s a wonderful laid back method that works well for us. This past week we’ve been starting later and not ending until nearly 2 and I can tell it’s just NOT working. My kids don’t have the attention for book work in the afternoon; that’s why we save our afternoons for crafts, building with Lego’s, nature walks, and “fun” stuff.

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