In all honesty, one "Sonlight day" often equals two, or sometimes even three of our "actual days". The first two weeks of this new year I tried to finish a Sonlight day in a day, mostly just to get a feel for it and to see if it seemed realistic. The result: most days it is not realistic for us to finish the work!
I believe it would take at least 6 hours per day for us to finish our P 4/5, Core C, and Core F work using each day just as written in the Instructor Guide and adding in math, art, and languages. Obviously, the younger kids would work for a shorter amount of time, but "school" would have to be going on for the majority of the day. According to a quick internet search, six hours/day seems pretty average for a 7th grader. There is the oft-touted one hour per grade level guideline, which seems like a pretty good ideal, in theory.
There's always a but isn't there? I feel like six hours, even five hours a day of structured learning is too much for us. There are so many things to do and see and fun things the kids want to try. And much of that stuff is educational! It's not like I plan to let them sit around watching mindless television or beating each other with sticks. But I know that we can't handle unschooling or even super-relaxed, not-quite unschooling after our little experiment.
So what is the middle ground? We love Sonlight, it works well for us, I don't want to give it up. I don't want to be a slave to a curriculum either. So my thinking is we will try this-
(Update: We are still sticking with a short day, but I have found that adding an extra half-hour in helps a great deal! So now we do a 3 1/2 hour day, from 8:30-12. I also moved math to the end of the day, to discourage dawdling!)
- 3 hours of Core work and electives: This includes Sonlight work, foreign language, Life of Fred, typing, handwriting, etc. I have all the extra subjects scheduled right in my Instructor Guide so we can easily just do the next thing, stop when our time is up, and resume right there the next day.
- 1/2 hour of math: Everyone will do math for 30 minutes. I get the math out at 11:30, and those who work hard can easily be done by 12. If they dawdle though, it can push a little later. Read more about how we simplify math here.
- Catch up over lunch: Our lunch break can be used to get in read-alouds that we didn't get to, or to go over science questions, discuss history readings, etc. Usually, though, we just eat;).
I am not getting too attached to this idea and realize it may not work out. But I think it is something worth trying that could take a lot of pressure off of the kids and myself and inject some fun into our day! And so far, it seems to be working, though I am sure it will need tweaking here and there.