“How Much Time Do You Spend On School?”


This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about schedules.


Hippie Academy LogoOne of the first questions people ask us when they find out we homeschool is, “How Much Time Do You Spend On School?”

The honest answer is, we spend ALL of our time homeschooling.

When we are walking down the street and I say, “this morning on the news I learned that the fish in lake Erie are being destroyed by Asian carp – how do you think those carp got in the lake?”  We are homeschooling.  We are learning about ecology, biology, earth science, geography, politics and more.

When we are driving and my daughter is in the back of the van, independently reading the latest Bone book we are homeschooling.

When we are cooking and I say, “This recipe calls for 2/3 cup of flour but we are doubling it. How much do we need to use?”  We are homeschooling.

When my son wakes up in his crib and I go get him and he rubs his eyes and says, “Look it, Mama! My guys are on the floor!” (He throws his stuffed animals out early every morning. It’s a ritual. I don’t get it, either.)  And I reply, “Oh, no! The guys are on the floor! How many guys are

Practicing letter recognition in the grocery store checkout.

Practicing letter recognition in the grocery store checkout.

there?” And we count them as we put them back in the bed, we are homeschooling.

Homeschooling, the way we do it, is a way of educating our children as we participate together in the activities of every day life.

“Yes,” you may be thinking, “but how much time do you spend… you know… doing SCHOOL?”

To answer that, let me explain a little about how things work in our home.

Handsome Hippie Hubby works Wednesday – Sunday, from 3 pm to 11 pm.  I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am-1 pm. I am a church secretary and the pastor and board are super-gracious in letting me bring Sweet Hippie Daughter to work with me.  So our week breaks down like this:

On Monday and Wednesday Sweet Hippie Daughter comes to work with me, because it’s generally a quiet place where she can work, uninterrupted.  She does math, reading, writing, practices trombone and works on creative projects from 9 am until 1 pm.

If she has something special going on she can use that time to focus on her project.  Last November it was her Nanowrimo book.  This past week it has been memorizing the script of a play she’s in at the end of this month.

Reading a biography about the Mayo brothers in a quiet corner or Mama's office.  Why does she have a net on her head? Your guess is as good as mine but she's reading and she's happy so... yeah... we just roll with it.

Reading a biography about the Mayo brothers in a quiet corner or Mama’s office. Why does she have a net on her head? Your guess is as good as mine but she’s reading and she’s happy so… yeah… just roll with it.

On Friday mornings she stays home with her Daddy and he helps her with math and science, and practices music with her (they are in homeschool band together).

Additionally, she has archery on Monday nights, band class on Tuesday mornings and theater class Tuesday afternoon.  Our homeschool association sponsors field trips, spelling bees, gym class and other special activities that occur throughout the month with varying frequency.

That’s it.

How can we get a whole week’s worth of school in, in 3 half days plus a few extra classes?

Again – we school ALL THE TIME.

How Much Time Do You Spend Homeschooling?We just don’t spend much time sitting still.  We go to museums and parks. We read a lot, sprawled on the couch or tucked under the warm covers of our beds. We look interesting facts up online. We watch documentaries.

And we talk.

We talk to our kids constantly.  We don’t just lecture them, we engage them in conversation.

“What do you think about…?”

“Did you hear that….?”

“I wonder why…?”

Think how much of a 7 hour school day is spent in transition or waiting for some kids to be done with something other students have already finished.  Factor in lunch and recess, break times, the 15 minutes at the end of the day packing everything up for the trek home and how much time do public school kids spend in formal learning?  I bet, hour for hour, it is about the same.

But you see how the question gets tricky.

Now, let me turn the tables…

If you are a homeschooler, how much time do YOU spend on school?


Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about multiculturalism. hmschool blogging button


Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:


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About Elizabeth in MI

I'm a married mama with 2 beautiful step children, 2 from my own belly, and the best husband in the universe! I work part time at my church as a secretary and youth director and I truly enjoy 3 hour naps and reading fiction beneath my education level. Write me a note, any time at lazyhippiemama@hotmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.

17 responses »

  1. Thank you for joining us in this month’s homeschool blogging carnival. Your family sounds alot like mine in the fact that yes we are schooling all the time. My daughter and I watching the Today show over coffee this morning discussing Russia and the Ukraine, yesterday when we practiced gun safety and how to properly load and handle a firearm, when she asked where the comma goes while addressing the letter to her pen pal, the day before while we looked at crystals performing a science experiment, always learning! I really enjoyed your post, have a great weekend!

    • I think that our society has forgotten that we, as humans, are constantly absorbing and processing new knowledge. We think that we learn in classes and live outside them. It’s been a process for me to let go of that paradigm but, like you, I’ve watched my children blossom as we’ve let go of a lot of “the rules” about how things are supposed to be done.

  2. Even though I don’t homeschool, I could easily use these tips to expand on what my kids are learning. I try so hard to remember all the elements that go into being a good mom but I can’t seem to! I should start sentences with a question more often!

    • Ha! When you figure out how to “remember all the elements that go into being a good mom” tell me your secret. I’ll help you market it and we’ll be rich! 😀

  3. Our girls are in college now; but until they started college, we spent zero time doing school. As unschoolers, we spent all our time learning, none schooling. Mere semantics? I don’t think so, but YMMV.

    • No. It is more than semantics. I’m only beginning to understand that… that there can be a LOT of schooling without learning and a LOT of learning without schooling. Not to say there is no value in school. Just that there are other ways than those which are “officially recognized.”

    • Hey there, Frank! You got here first, and said pretty much what I was going to (with a gender adaptation and variance for no one going to college here, at least not at the moment!).

      Just wanted to wave hi from the old right coast!

  4. We don’t homeschool but we do ‘school’ all the time much in the way you describe. We constantly talk to our girls about what we, hear and do in ways they can use to learn from.

    It’s amazing the shark facts that my youngest can tell you.

    • LOL. I’m ignorant about sharks. She should come over for dinner and teach me some time! 😉 There is a little boy at my church who knows everything there is to know about red blood cells. Isn’t it funny how kids will latch on to a single subject like that?

  5. I have noticed since having my oldest home, we cover alot of matterial in a very short time. You are right, every momment can be a learning one, no matter where you are!

    • I have found that those moments often become learning moments for me as well. I’ve picked up a great deal of knowledge since we started homeschooling that I’m certain I never would have known otherwise.

  6. I agree! I think that the built in learning opportunities of everyday life are the best ones. But at the same time, as a work at home mom juggling housework with paid work I have found that my child really benefits from some focused time together. My oldest is only 4, so we do about 1-2 hours at a time singing, saying rhymes, reading stories and playing games. We also do this at other times in the day, but it works really well for us to set aside some focused time together.

    On a different note, I’m happy to have found some other homeschooling blogging hippy mamas doing awesome things in the world!

    • Welcome! Yes. I agree 100% about focused time. I can get so caught up in the world happening inside my computer screen when I am working that I am lost to the one happening all around me.

  7. Wow, I love your schedule – or lack of schedule. haha! You are right, we – as humans are constantly learning (well, unless you refuse and say – I am absolutely rejecting this). It’s all around us, we can’t help it. I think you need to recognize it and be open to seeing it.

    Our society and our money is so wrapped up into the idea of “school”. We must go , we must be there for 9 hours – 280 days of the year. There are other possibilities – not to say that anything is right or wrong. What’s important is that it works for you, and your family. A schedule like you describe would not work in my family. First, my husband would drive me so batty, I would just have to twist my head off. I must admit, I would worry myself. as well. For you guys, it works like a charm, which is wonderful!

    This is the great thing about homeschooling. There is as much diversity as there are people doing it! That’s the beauty.

    Thanks so much for participating this month!

  8. Like Frank up above, we spend no time whatsoever on school (except on those occasions my daughter includes that place she’s never been in her play).

    The learning is rampant. I used to ask questions, the way you describe, but that eventually fell away – the things they ask me, and tell me, are deeper and wider than anything I would offer as a “teachable moment”.

    We watch a lot of PBS. We watch a lot of other things, but each of us has our favorites there – Downton Abbey is mine, my husband the chef likes cooking and travel, my daughter loves nature documentaries and Wild Kratts, and my son is a fan of Nova and Martha Speaks.

    Additionally, my daughter loves Monster High, my son Doctor Who, and both of them are over the moon with My Little Pony and Minecraft. I love Star Trek, and have been watching Enterprise lately (best wordplay of the last month? I nearly took a header on misplaced clutter, and asked the clutter owner to remove it, adding, ad-lib, “I might trip. And if I Trip, I might T’Pol.” Oh, yes, I am a funny (and geeky!) mom.

    The learning takes care of itself. It’s the air, promise-crammed, going to see Hamlet in the park, critiquing my NaNo novel’s rough draft, which ends up in the Globe Theatre, the day of the fire, or reading about the slave ships or the deaths in Yellowstone Park, or a bird guide book, because we happened on them. It’s exploring the US map on the wall because we were hugging and it caught someone’s eye, or someone wants to know where something is in relation to where we are. It’s playing around on Google Earth, looking up our house, then seeing if they can find their way to our grocery store, just for fun.

    It’s figuring the sales tax, or shipping charges, or looking over the bank statement. It’s finding ways to earn money, and keeping that commitment to do odd jobs for your grandparents. It’s deciding to spend some of your money on My Little Ponies, some on chips and candy, and some on a coffeemaker, “because I feel it’s a part of my plan to be more mature, Mom”. It’s deciding that he wants to go to bed at around the same time each night, or that she wants to clean her room, or do laundry.

    It’s in every conversation, even the trivial. We drive past the Catholic church on our way to go Build-a-Bear, because they’re having a sale. “Ash Wednesday?” she reads from the digital display, with a question in her voice. Last year, she would have found the sign confusing to read. So I explain about Lent, and Easter, and the 40 days and 40 nights, and Mardi Gras, and the ashes. Somehow, we get talking about our friends, a multifaith family, who have shared parts of their Purim and Hanukkah with us. We talk about churches and synagogues and mosques, and the Muslim woman we saw on TV, then how Hindis are pantheistic while Christians are monotheistic. That reminds her of Pan, from Creatures of Olympus, a Kindle app she loves, because she can breed her own mythological creatures.

    That takes us to the interstate, where I point out that I’m going to slow down for the merging vehicle on our right, although it should have adjusted to the prevailing late evening traffic pattern…and on from there.

    And that was about five minutes of just chatting in the car. =)

    It took a lot longer to type than it did to live, and I never could have planned it.

    And that’s why we don’t spend any time on school. It would distract us from the rich veins of learning that are already happening effortlessly, all around us.

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