10 Practical Ways to Shorten Your Homeschool Day

Homeschooling doesn't have to take forever!

Life is hectic. In this age of constant busyness, it just seems to come at you from all different directions every single day.

It’s exhausting. 


Life can be exhausting.

Add homeschooling to the mix, and you’re in for a bit of fun. 😉

If there’s one thing I can encourage you about today, it’s that homeschooling doesn’t have to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

What if I were to tell you that your homeschool day could be shorter than it is? What if I were also to tell you that your child’s education wouldn’t suffer because of it?


As a mom of many, I’ve got to keep things as simple as possible here, so, by default, I’ve discovered some great homeschool hacks that save time, money, and relationships.

It can be all too easy to try to model our schedule after a traditional school day, but it’s just not necessary to do that in a home learning environment. Learning happens all the time- even when you aren’t “doing school.” With that in mind, I want you to consider these:

10 Tricks to Shorten Your Homeschool Day

1. Keep lessons short.

Lessons don’t have to be 45 minutes long to be effective. In fact, after about the first 15 minutes or so, oftentimes you may find your child’s eyes glazing over as they try desperately to pay attention to something they’ve already lost interest in. The solution? Keep your lessons close to the 10-20 minute mark. You may “cover less material,” but what’s the point of covering material that the kids aren’t really listening to anyway? I’d much rather have my child enthusiastically participate in a 10 minute lesson than half-heartedly take in only some of a 45 minute one.

2. Use as few textbooks as possible.

Some people like textbooks. I get it. My oldest daughter prefers textbook learning over any other. What I’ve found, however, is that textbook learning often takes the longest. Consider integrating different approaches to your day, rather than going through 4-5 textbooks. Not only will your day go faster, but it will add some variety to an otherwise mundane routine.

3. Combine subjects.

Life isn’t broken up into subjects, so why do we insist on doing that with our children’s education? Kids are able to retain information so much better when there is some sort of connection, rather than learning about unrelated things all day long. Although unit studies and read-alouds are the first ideas that come to mind to combine subjects, this can even be done with textbooks. For example, if your child has to figure out a multitude of chemical equations, maybe they could skip math for the day. If their science book includes a biography of Nikola Tesla, that’s also history. If they will be writing a report on the Renaissance, why assign a writing worksheet, too? Although textbooks are written to cover specific subjects, the reality is that (unless it’s math), they will all carry a good amount of information from all subjects.

4. Stop expecting to cover every subject, everyday.

There is absolutely no reason that you must cover everything every single day. It’s okay if you skip science or history (or whatever else) for a day or two, or even a week. These things have a way of balancing themselves out. We once spent about three months learning about pioneer life from the Little House series. Although our focus was mainly on history, we did touch on scientific topics now and then. After that unit, we moved on to one about famous inventors, so we naturally shifted into more scientific lessons and less history. Don’t stress over it. These things take care of themselves!

5. Stick to the basics.

By that, I mean the 3 R’s. Spend your time teaching your children to read, write, spell and do math, and then let them explore their interests for the rest of the day. Go to the library and stock up on an assortment of books and DVDs. Gather up some art supplies and things to tinker with. You’ll be amazed at what kids who have free time on their hands will come up with!

6. Stop being ruled by your schedule.

Having a routine in place for your homeschool is a sanity-saver, for sure. Becoming a slave to that schedule, though, can be one of the biggest homeschooling mistakes you’ll make. I think we’ve all seen the neat little homeschooling schedules on Pinterest and in our teacher’s manuals that list out specific times for each subject. I’m telling you, they look pretty appealing to type-A homeschool moms like me. Unfortunately, though, it can be all too easy to treat them as if they can’t be adjusted. If your child is scheduled to do language arts from 9-9:45 and finishes at 9:20, it doesn’t mean they have to do silent reading or some sort of busywork until 9:45. Just let them move on to the next subject!

When it comes to schedules, for me, the safest thing is to set a time to start homeschooling each day and to designate a time that I’d consider the latest to finish up. If you get done early, take advantage of it! You aren’t bound by a school schedule. Live like it!

7. Don’t feel guilty if you think your days are too short.

Try to steer clear from comparing the length of your days to the public schools. Homeschooling is entirely different than traditional school, so don’t ever feel like you need to add more because you “aren’t doing enough.” Believe me, you are.

8. Try unschooling.

I’d be remiss to write a post like this and not mention unschooling. I mean, you can’t get a shorter homeschool day than no lessons at all, right? 🙂

9. Don’t use teacher’s manuals.

I know they’re meant to help, but they honestly do more harm than good.  Do yourself a favor, and use your curriculum in the way that works best for you- not because your teacher’s manual says so. They often add too much busywork and too much additional preparation with no added benefits. You know your child better than any curriculum writer. Use that to your advantage. (For more of my thoughts on this subject, check out this video.)

10. Stop visiting Pinterest.

Okay, I’m only half-joking when I say this. Pinterest is amazing. I get a lot of great ideas from Pinterest, but, seriously, use it in moderation. Remember that no one’s life is as picture perfect as they make it look in their photos. (And if it is, I don’t want to hear about it!) 😛 Stop spending inordinate amounts of time on complicated activities so you can feel like you “measure up.” You don’t need to prove anything. Just be the best homeschool mom YOU can be.

The homeschool life is an amazing life, isn’t it? And you know what’s even more amazing? Making your homeschool your own, without fear of “not doing enough” or “not measuring up.” You ARE doing enough, and you DO measure up. Don’t take my word for it, though.

Go ask your kids. 🙂

(For more on this topic, watch my video!)






Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

25 thoughts on “10 Practical Ways to Shorten Your Homeschool Day”

  1. After 7+ years of homeschooling, I know we actually accomplish more in our simple, shorter days than the 6-8 hour days of public schools. I think some homeschool parents forget about all the time wasted at school and that the one-on-one time we give our children is far more efficient. Plus we’re teaching life skills!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an awesome read for me as I work full-time and homeschool in the evening. I am always worrying whether or not I am doing enough but after this read, I feel like I can lighten my load even more by following some of your tips. So thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just remember that there are lots of things your kids do outside of your official “homeschooling hours” that are educational and can be included. Playing with Legos, going tot he playground, watching nature documentaries, Minecraft, board games- these are all things that kids do in their free time, but they also have educational value. Really take a good look at what your kids are doing on their own. I’ll bet you could count a good portion of that towards your homeschool hours. I hope this helps! I also made a video about keeping records in a relaxed homeschool that may be helpful to you- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpR0NClJ3_M&t=8s. Hope this answers your question!


  3. This would have been helpful when my kids were younger. With high schoolers, a lot of this becomes difficult. I do love unit studies/combining subjects/unschooling models, which is why we do interest led learning, but we still need transcript worthy material to get into college (which both want to do).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keep in mind that unit studies and combining subjects contain just as much valuable information as textbooks, if not more, and they can certainly be considered transcript-worthy material. Have you ever looked into narrative transcripts? That is what I’ll be using with my kids.


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