Supporting Your Child’s Learning At Home: 

The Family Playbook


How do I organize the learning day?


Establishing routines makes the day predictable, reduces anxiety, prevents conflict, and builds good habits. Schedules do not have to be set in stone, but using them regularly helps learners focus on the work more easily.


  • No pressure. Don’t pressure yourself to schedule a seven-hour day of classes. Research suggests the following amounts of time are appropriate for formal learning at home:
    • Grades K–2: 90 minutes per day
    • Grades 3–5: 120 minutes per day
    • Grades 6–8: 180 minutes per day
    • Grades 9–12: 270 minutes per day
  • Regular breaks. Both little kids and big kids do better when they have planned breaks at regular intervals. We recommend a break every 15-30 minutes for littles and every 30-90 minutes for bigger kids.
  • 7 Components of a day: Wondering what else to include? Psychologist Dr. Dan Siegel recommends incorporating seven components into a child’s day for optimum mental health. 
    • Focus Time: This is when we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way. This could be school time or completing a specific task that takes effort and concentration. This is time when the brain is doing some heavy lifting.
    • Play Time: This is when we are spontaneous or creative. This could be learning something new, but in a playful way, doing something enjoyable and sometimes novel. Play time makes new positive connections in the brain.
    • Connecting Time: This is social time, when we connect with other people. During this time we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry and build capacity for more and deeper relationships
    • Physical Time: For little kids this is when we get the wiggles out, but for all humans there is a need to move our bodies. Movement strengthens the brain in many ways.
    • Time In: This is intentional quiet reflection such as journaling,   focusing on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. It helps us integrate the brain and give ideas time to settle. 
    • Down Time: When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge. Being bored and just lounging, without mobile devices, is a great way to do this. It helps us recover from overstimulation.
    • Sleep Time: Sleep gives the brain some rest. Sleep is also when we consolidate learning. Enough sleep is important to recover from the experiences of the day. Children and young adults need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep depending on their age.


  • Work together. Creating a schedule with your child (especially if they are older) will help with buy-in and can alleviate repeated arguments about what to do. Find ways for your child to have voice and choice in the schedule. Here are some ideas: 
    • Include your child in the process of making the schedule. Some questions you can ask to get the ball rolling: What time do you think we should start? What do you want to do first? How long will we work? How often do we take breaks? Make clear which elements are non-negotiable.
    • Talk about what items on the schedule mean. For example, the schedule may say, “eat breakfast,” but what it means is: “Eat a healthy breakfast and put your plate in the sink when you are done.” 
    • Give independence. For younger kids, this may mean making a schedule with pictures so they can navigate what they do next on their own. For older students, you might model how to create a schedule and then let your child try it with guidance or, if age-appropriate, alone.
    • Find places for choice. Leave some space in the schedule for children to choose the work they want to do from a menu of options. This autonomy gives students a sense of ownership and control.
  • Take breaks and use a timer. Try to take a quick break every 15-30 minutes to do some jumping jacks, stretch, or take a sip of water. When the timer goes off at the end of a learning session, celebrate with “recess,” body break, or independent time.
  • Show and embrace flexibility. When things need to shift because life happens, adjust the schedule together. Figure out what things need to move to make it work.


Other Resources

UCTV & Thrive Video

Other Sections in the Family Playbook: