Balancing Screen Time When You’re Homeschooling

There are many different ways to homeschool, from all online to a mix of traditional and online learning.

With the coronavirus raging, most of us are now being asked to homeschool our kids. Some school districts are offering virtual and distance learning options, and that guidance can have a big effect on how you decide to approach homeschooling. For families who don’t have these options, it can feel difficult to figure out a healthy balance of online learning versus traditional, book-based education.

As parents, we’ve been told to limit our kids screen time, but you might be wondering if those limits also apply to online education. The truth is, there’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to how much “screen time” education your child does. But if you’re feeling stressed about achieving the right balance between the two, we feel you. That’s why we’re here with a few suggested approaches to consider as you figure out which homeschooling approach is best for your family.

Homeschool Method 1: The Online-Only Approach

In this homeschooling method, kids use online programs to guide them in their education most of the time. Kids are able to work on their schoolwork even if their parents are unavailable. Parents should check in with kids regularly and hold them accountable for completing their work, but they aren’t responsible for being their childrens’ classroom teacher.

The Pros

  • There are almost unlimited online learning resources on nearly every topic, making it easy to find programs that support your child’s interests. 
  • Kids love screens, so it’s not hard to convince them to try online learning.

The Cons

  • Online learning might not be as effective as offline instruction. Studies show that people retain more from physical books than screens.  
  • It’s easy for kids who are on screens all day to get burnt out and overstimulated.

How to Get an A+ with this Method

If your kids are doing exclusively online learning, consider having them take down notes about what they’re learning. Young kids who aren’t writing yet can draw pictures about what they’re hearing to discuss with their parents later. And make sure you’re previewing what your kiddos are learning and reinforcing it through discussion. 

Take steps to keep your child safe online by ensuring their privacy. You want to be aware of the websites, chats, and social networks your kiddo may be accessing. You can block sites through software or your computer’s settings, but regular parental oversight is essential as well.

Homeschool Method 2: The 50/50 approach

In the 50/50 approach, kids spend about half of their time engaged in online learning of some type and the other half of their time learning through more traditional methods. 

The Pros

  • Kids can access tons of great online resources, and back up what they’ve learned online with books and activities that engage other senses.

The Cons

  • It can be harder for your kids to transition from online to offline throughout the day. Setting daily expectations about how much screen time kids will get that day is essential.

How to Get an A+ with this Method

Hands-on activities can go a long way in making this method a success. These offline, tangible projects can help drill down skills and information learned online. Some parents find saving the online learning component of this approach until after lunchtime can help kids to better transition between traditional and online learning.

Homeschool Method 3:  Limited Online Approach

In this homeschooling method, kids primarily learn using the “old fashioned way” with books, paper, pencils, and the like. Parents also sprinkle in a bit of online education to reinforce the concepts kids have been learning.

The Pros

  • Kids are likely to retain more of what they are taking in for longer periods of time. 
  • It may help them have a longer attention span, compared with kids who are more heavy screen users.

The Cons

  • This method places a heavier burden on parents’ time, as kids in this approach need more offline guidance and instruction. 

How to Get an A+ with this Method

This homeschooling method works well for families that have a stay at home parent or a parent with a very flexible work schedule who is willing and able to provide hands-on instruction. Prepping independent school work ahead of time is a way of making this method work for your family if you don’t have a parent-teacher readily available.

Homeschool Method 4: The Traditional Homeschool Approach

In traditional homeschooling, kids receive a complete offline education, employing books, workbooks and adult instruction in lieu of any online learning.

The Pros

  • Kids may show high rates of information retention as well as longer attention spans as compared with their screen-utilizing peers.
  • Kids educated without any screens are likely to develop a love of reading.

The Cons

  • Without any exposure to tech or online learning, kids may lack skills, including basic things like typing or online research.
  • This approach denies access to online education that enhances and reinforces offline learning, such as videos of complex science experiments.

How to Get an A+ with this Method


For families who feel strongly opposed to any screen time whatsoever, and who have one or more parents completely dedicated to their kids’ education, the traditional homeschooling method could work for you. It requires families to hire a tutor or have a parent who is committed to being fully present as a teacher and prepared to set aside a large chunk of time for instruction.

It’s Ok to Change Your Homeschooling Approach

Regardless of how your family handles screen time, don’t be afraid to shift your approach if you find the one you’re using isn’t working well for your family. Homeschooling can take some time to adjust to so cut yourself some slack if you feel like you’re struggling with this, mama. Check out our posts about sample homeschool schedules and how to set expectations for yourself and your kiddos during this big change.