Logging Hours in Missouri / The Law / Q&A
Heart to Heart



      After explaining logging during my new homeschoolers’ workshop, a woman raised her hand to tell me that a speaker at another conference emphatically stated that Missouri’s statute requirement of 1,000 hours meant 1,000 literal hours and that homeschoolers better be counting every literal minute or else they were in violation of the law. I cannot tell you how sorry I am that new homeschoolers are receiving such inaccurate information that places such an unnecessary burden on them.
      First of all, when the statute was established, the attorney at that time stated that the term “hour” did not mean a literal sixty minutes but was defined as periods of time such as class sessions. In fact, other attorneys since then have concurred with that attorney’s interpretation of that part of our homeschool statute.
      As a former public school teacher, I can tell you quite frankly that 1,000 literal hours of formal academics is equivalent to 3 grade levels of instruction. So those who are putting that kind of pressure on new homeschoolers by insisting on teaching 1,000 literal hours each school year had better be covering 3 grade levels of educational material each year because anything less would constitute very incompetent teaching.



[Reprinted from There’s No Place Like Home book] by Candy Summers


      Our Missouri law states that we should offer at least one thousand hours of instruction. What exactly does this mean? Are we to count every minute persevering until each of our children accumulates 60,000 minutes of instruction? Absolutely not! If we did, we would become slaves bound to an unreasonable and burdensome requirement. Parents would constantly worry about fulfilling the requirement,filling their children’s time with worthless activities, or they would be covering about three grade levels each year. Either way, burnout would be inevitable.
      To fully understand an hour of instruction, we must examine our past with the present. In colonial America when our nation was 99% literate, the majority of the children were home educated. These homeschools produced brilliant men unequaled in our time. Yet, after considering the parents’ far reaching responsibilities, I am certain that they did not spend six hours a day, five days a week instructing their children in academic courses. And since the very sustenance of the family relied on every family member’s contribution, I know that the children did not spend 1,000 literal hours each year studying books. Now I do know that the parents instructed their children the majority of their waking hours through real living experiences because history testifies of their faithfulness to discipleship as defined in God’s Word. Unfortunately, this is not recognized as academic instruction by today’s standards, since modern education annihilated discipleship and the natural process of learning.
      Consider that when parents first relinquished their God given authority and responsibility, children still only attended public school for a total of 3 or 4 years compared to the present 13 year requirement. Currently, children spend 9 to 10 years more in the public school system than their brilliant forefathers. And what has all this excessive time in the public school system achieved but soaring illiteracy, plummeting test scores, and widespread immorality. Obviously, requiring our children to spend more time in school is leading our nation to destruction which is, in fact, what the social planners intended all along.
      Does the state require public schools to log their time of instruction or account to anyone how they spend every minute? If they did, the schools would fall far short of 1,000 hours of academic instruction. Consider how the time is spent in a class hour in junior and senior high. Most of the time is spent taking attendance, getting ready, explaining what they are about to learn, disciplining, handing in or out papers, and preparation for departure. Studies substantiate that only 15 minutes are spent on the actual lesson.
      To help you further understand the significance of this, let us carefully examine the time spent in an elementary classroom where 3 ½ hours of every day are spent taking attendance, collecting lunch money, lining up, moving from one part of the building to another, lunch, recess, and using the bathroom facilities. Of the remaining time, much is consumed by preparing, getting materials ready, moving from one group to another, disciplining, incessant review, busywork, inconsequential chatter, and irrelevant interaction. Furthermore, studies show that children receive only 2 ½ minutes a day of one-on-one tutoring from their teachers, yet we know from several thousand years of experience that one-on-one tutoring is by far the superior method of instruction. Moreover, when an ill child misses several weeks of school, the district sends a tutor to the home that then spends about 3 hours catching up the student for the 30 hours of schooling missed. And this, the public school considers equivalent to classroom instruction!
      The following is an excellent example of the significant difference between classroom teaching and one-on-one tutoring. A homeschooling leader’s sister-in-law spent about an hour working with his daughter. When finished, she told his wife that what she had just accomplished with their daughter would have taken 3 months to cover with her own first grade class. Do you understand now why adhering to a literal hour is ludicrous? We must think of “hours” as class sessions or periods of time in which the subject matter is adequately covered for that day.
      So what is an hour of instruction? Homeschooling attorneys have interpreted our homeschooling law as anything within an hour. So if the lesson takes over an hour but is within two hours, it is logged as two hours or as two days of lessons. Think of an hour class in high school. The teacher only has an hour to cover the material, anything more is left for the next day’s lesson.
      Let’s look at the law again. It states that we must offer at least 1,000 hours of instruction. We offer our children the same amount of time they spend at school, 6 hours to complete a reasonable day’s worth of work, but they complete the day’s lessons in 2 or 3 hours. Shouldn’t they still receive credit for an entire day’s worth of work? We know that tutoring takes far less time than classroom teaching, so how could we possibly equate the two?
      How do I know what would be complete in one day? If using traditional textbooks, most lessons are defined as a day’s lesson, however, if not specified just divide each books’ pages by 170, for days of instruction. But, here again, keep in mind that most schools never finish their books. When you’ve taught for a while, you will instinctively know what is reasonable.
      What if my child does 5 days’ worth of math on a particular day besides his other subjects, and we end up with 11 hours of school? Since the child has accomplished five day’s worth of math, give him credit for five days of math by logging an hour each day for five days.
      If using a traditional classroom consumable math book like A Beka, for instance, we know that one page front and back constitutes a days’ worth of math. Many homeschoolers are able to complete that lesson front and back in less than thirty minutes. In fact my sons typically finished their math lesson for the day in 15 minutes. This poses quite a problem for those who insist on counting each literal minute. What then? Do they make their child do four more lessons that day? At that pace the child would complete his book in just three months, so then what? Either it would be necessary to give him another math book or have very little math logged that year. A just and honest approach, coming from a public school teacher myself, would be to log each lesson as one class session of math. Therefore, if my son completed three lessons, comprising six pages, as each lesson is a page front and back, I would give my son three days worth of math credit.
      What if I am not using a conventional curriculum, how do I log our lessons? Anything within an hour is logged one hour, anything within 2 hours is logged 2 hours, anything within 3 hours is logged 3 hours, and so on. So if you are doing a science experiment and it takes 2 ½ hours, you log that as 3 hours of science. If you are reading a history book for 1 ¼ hours, you would log that as 2 hours of history whereas 3 ¾ hours of home economics would be logged at 4 hours.
      Personally, our children did much more work than the textbooks required but in much less time. I cut out busywork, got to the meat of the subject, and supplemented with many creative activities. Our book learning took us a total of about five months leaving more time to pursue other interests and services. Actually, just two hours of formal academics is sufficient to keep an average child on grade level.
      If you are a new homeschooler, don’t feel badly if it seems to be taking so much more time. You are new at this endeavor, so be patient with yourself. Efficiency comes with time and experience, making each year easier.




I’m having trouble coming up with 400 non core hours, what can I do?

First of all, the law does not require that we teach 400 hours of non core subjects. It states, “At least 600 hours of the 1,000 will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science or academic courses that are related.” I reiterate, it does not require an accumulation of 400 non core hours. You could log 1,000 hours of core hours if you like, but for the sake of a well-rounded education, I recommend time spent in art, music, physical education, shop, and home economics. In my opinion, the non core subjects add more spice to the daily academic meal and should not be neglected, but you certainly need not worry about providing exactly 400 hours of non core instruction.

Language Arts=Grammar, Spelling, and Handwriting

Grammar, spelling and handwriting all comprise Language Arts; therefore, they should be combined together and logged as one subject under Language Arts. For example, if your child spends 15 minutes in spelling, 20 minutes in grammar, and 10 minutes in handwriting for a total of 45 minutes, count this as one class session of Language Arts. If, however, your child spends 30 minutes in spelling, 40 minutes in grammar, and 15 minutes in handwriting, for a total of 1 hour and 25 minutes, count this as two class sessions of Language Arts. So whatever time a child spends doing Language Arts, if within an hour, give them 1 class session; if within 2 hours, give them 2 class sessions and so forth. Reading and Language Arts should be two separate headings on your log sheet and should be logged separately. Phonics should be logged under reading.

If we are reading a historical book, may I log that for both reading and history?

No. You must determine your goal and the credit you need most that day—reading or history—but not both. However, if you are actually doing two things at once, then you can log two different subjects. For instance, during a study on the Middle Ages, the children duplicated beautiful decorative manuscripts while listening to Gregorian chants. I logged this time under both Music and Art because they were actually doing two different activities at one time—listening to the music while creating art. If your child was listening to a Bible study audiotape while making bread, you could log that time under both
Bible and Home Economics.

How do I log field trips?

Let me give you several examples. If you are studying the diversity of the animal kingdom at the zoo, that is logged under Science and placed under core away because Science is a core subject and since 400 of the required 600 hours of core subjects must take place in the home, we must calculate both the hours at home and away from home-but only for the core subjects. So if you are studying westward expansion under the Arch you should log that under History, core away; monetary transactions at several stores would be logged as Math, core away; a trip to the Magic House would be logged under Science, coreaway; a Maple Syrup demonstration would be Science, core away; a nature walk at Castlewood Park, Science, core away; Old Courthouse, History, core away; Transportation Museum, History, core away. Traveling through other states, using map skills and visiting historical sites would be logged under History, core away. If, however, you go to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol you must determine if you are logging it for its historical value which would be logged under the core subject of History or its artistic value which would be placed under the non-core section as Art. Another example would comprise studying Renaissance art at the Art Museum. You must log it under the core section as History, core away, or under the non-core section as Art. Remember, distinguishing between at home and away from home is only necessary when it comes to core subjects. Therefore, roller skating, ice skating, bowling, softball volleyball, biking, swimming, tennis, racquet ball, and the like, would just be logged under the non-core section of your log sheet as Physical Education. Cooking, sewing, knitting, home management under non-core as Home Economics; music lessons and practice under non-core as Music; arts and crafts under non-core as Art.

May I log piano lessons and piano practices under music?

Certainly, log music lessons and all the time your child spends practicing under the non-core section as Music because your child is learning music in both instances.

May I log chores?

I prefer referring to chores as responsibilities or duties, because they should not be a chore to the child, but a delight, as he is contributing to his family and fulfilling his duty to God and his family. With that said, you may log the time spent learning a new domestic skill under the non-core section as Home Economics or Life Skills. However, once your child adequately performs the new skill, I cannot justify logging the time spent completing everyday responsibilities. For instance, if you are teaching your child to sort laundry, count the time spent learning this skill under Home Economics. But once the child knows how to sort laundry, discontinue logging that skill and start another. You can even include such things as learning how to change fuses, how to properly paint a room, how to care for silver and china, how to spring clean, how to change a tire, how to change oil and so forth because these are necessary life skills, and in our estimation, often more important than many other core subjects, as it is our responsibility to prepare our children for their calling as husbands and wives; fathers and mothers.

Do I only log during the months I teach?

Let us make this point perfectly clear—parents are instructing their children every day of each year. Education never stops! So you must correct your perspective of what constitutes “real school” to include all the instruction you impart every day and thus start counting all those “other things” you do with your children. As I have already pointed out in the above paragraph, home economics are necessary life skills that are far more important than Calculus and Trigonometry and should be logged every day. And for us as Christians, the foremost instruction for our children is biblical instruction. Don’t you do this every day with your children? If you aren’t, you should. So, all biblical instruction, doctrinal studies, character lessons and such are logged under Bible, every day. All reading, whether you calculate it to be pleasurable or not, is instructing your child’s mind, so would be logged under Reading . All art or music is logged accordingly. This is true of outdoor concerts or musical recordings. All physical activity such as roller skating, ice skating, bowling, softball, volleyball, tetherball, biking, swimming, tennis, racquetball, basketball, hockey… is logged under Physical Education.


Do I log Bible as a core subject or a non-core subject?

Since God commands parents to teach His Law to their children and to seek His kingdom first, and since the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom, it stands to reason that Bible is core to our very existence. If you believe this to be true, then you should log Bible as a core subject. If, however, you are uncertain as to how you really feel about biblical instruction, then I would recommend you log it under the non-core section of your log sheet. Basically, its place is defined by preference or conviction.

I have so much trouble consistently logging. Must I log?

Twenty-two years ago, a mother came to me expressing her great difficulty keeping up with logging her schooling. Since she used A Beka and faithfully completed each day’s lesson, I told her to log her entire school year at the beginning of the year and be done with it, unless of course she wanted to add the extras she did each day. She did not care about the extras because she completed her 1,000 hours of instruction with just her A Beka books and thus was liberated from what she considered to be a grueling task. I personally think that it is great to record and log all the marvelous instruction we impart to our children; however, if you are in a similar situation as this mother, do as she did.

Should I log my hours in my plan book?

Absolutely not! Always keep your plan book separate from your log sheet. Although we have had less than five cases in the last 25 years where a prosecuting attorney has requested to see log sheets, it is absolutely imperative that we do not set a precedent by displaying our plan book records along with a log sheet. Only a prosecuting attorney is allowed to request log sheets, and only log sheets should be shown. That is the law.

Do you have any other suggestions that would make logging easier?

Yes, several. New homeschoolers, you will plan much more than you can possibly complete in one day,let alone one week, and you will feel like a failure after the first week of school because you did not get to all the wonderful things you planned. Relax! It is natural to plan more than you are physically able to accomplish. It takes time to get a feel for a day’s worth of instruction, so be easy on yourself. If you do not get to everything on your planner, do not cross it out, just do it the next day and the next until you finish everything you had planned. This is why it is better for new homeschoolers to plan just one week at a time at first or at least have a loose schedule to work from and then copy it to your plan book, in a way you would a diary, and then log it.
      Write your subjects in the same order each day as they appear on your log sheet—Reading, Language Arts, Math, History, Science, and Related Core Subjects such as Bible; and then non-core subjects—Home Economics, Art, Music, Physical Education… This makes it so much easier to transfer to the log sheet. However, with that said, I did make the exception of Bible and placed that first each day because it was always first on our agenda.
      If you spend more than one hour of instruction in a subject, write that number next to that subject, so if you do not get to logging right away, you have a record of those additional hours.
      When you log non-core subjects, place the first letter of the subject first and then the hours of instruction in that subject. For instance, if you spend 2 hours in Home Economics, log H2; 30 minutes in Music, M1; 1-1/4 hours in Art, A2; 40 minutes in Physical Education, P1.
      Teach your child how to log. Log that time as Home Economics, and then have your child log each day’s instruction.