What Should Early Elementary Homeschool Days Include?

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Early Elementary Students during a homeschool dayIf you have explored homeschooling laws specific to your state, you know what subjects you must teach during the early elementary years (1st – 3rd grades).

There are common themes to think about as you plan your early elementary days.

How Many Days and Hours Should I Homeschool?

Most states mandate a 180-day academic year for homeschoolers. They make no allowances for excused absences. So, homeschoolers school till 180 days are completed.


If you live in a state that sets forth no requirement for the number of days, it is a good idea to school around 180 days.

If you unexpectedly move to a new state, you won’t be in a panic if that law requires 180 days. It also lends credibility to your homeschool program should your right to homeschool be challenged.

Early elementary days will be a bit longer than the academic time you spend with a K-5 child. Think in terms of adding another 15-20 minutes of 1-to-1 instruction to the day for each academic year.

If you live in a state that mandates a set number of academic hours, the 90 minute to 2.5 hours a day  includes only time spent in 1-1 instruction.

The rest of your homeschool day will involve things that your child can do independently and extra learning activities.

What Will My Child Need From Me?

Many moms fret when they begin homeschooling because it takes more effort or time than anticipated. Children are not working as independently as desired. Mom feels like her little is too clingy. The child seems frustrated and irritable. Things are tanking fast!

How many times does a classroom teacher leave a classroom? She doesn’t.

Why? These are the years we refer to as ‘learning to read years’. Students will not be independent with academic tasks until sometime between 6th and 7th grades.

For now, they need your help to understand directions for every assignment they complete. They will need encouragement and re-direction while they work.

Math resource for early elementary homeschool learning

Your day will include folding laundry while your child completes work under your watchful eye. Having you at arm’s length allows them to ask questions about their work.

You will see when they are getting off-task, are bored, or need a short break for a snack.

What Should an Academic Day Include?

Be sure and cover all subjects required by your state.

If your state has no academic mandates re courses you must cover, think in terms of including the 5 basics: reading, writing, math, history, and science.

Include other things that will round out your child’s day. Think of adding activities that will broaden their horizons, speak to their interests, or provide time with others.

Structure these extras to require less oversight.

Must I Teach Every Subject Every Day?

In early elementary, it’s fine to cover curriculum in a variety of ways. Some families may cover language arts and math 3 days a week while covering science and social studies 2 days a week.

Others may cover language arts and math every school day and cover social studies and science 2 days a week.  Some cover science the 1st half of the year and cover history the other half.

Must I Teach Anything Other Than Core Subjects?

The short answer is: no! However, any child who is home day-after-day is looking for the next thing to do. Why not determine what your child is doing which you can log as academic time?

Early Elementary boys reading a book

  • Legos – following directions involves reading and fine motor work
  • puzzles involves visual spatial practice as well as fine motor practice
  • drawing with chalk on the driveway involves crossing the midline –  essential for handwriting
  • field trip falls under social studies
  • park days with homeschool friends involves PE skills: running, jumping, climbing, etc.
  • helping with chores can be logged as practical living/home ec.
  • animal care paired with reading about the pet involves science
  • children’s choir at church – music.
  • arts and crafts – art.
  • participate in a sport – PE.



What ‘extras’ does your child enjoy? Include those as part of your homeschool day, and note the activity in your plan book!

I’d love it if you’d post a comment below telling me what your child is involved in and how you would document it as part of your homeschool day. If you aren’t sure how to categorize it, I’ll help you figure it out!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Emilie G

    Good article! Its easy to forget all the extras that our kids do outside of their daily book work. My kids have daily chores they are responsible for, and help with cooking. That’s home ec! And scouts can be science, art, leadership skills, or service hours depending on what they are doing. I don’t usually remember to write those things in my plan though!

    1. Carol Anne

      Oh, Emilie, that’s helpful advice for other moms. You also made me think of one I forgot to include! 4-H activities and projects are another great way to consider academic time. I have a friend who created a high school animal science/husbandry course for a high school science credit. Her student’s 4-H project was the base for that credit and she found other resources to add to it to round out the credit!

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