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How Much Time Should Students Spend Studying Online?

How Much Time Should Students Spend Studying Online?

Online school students spend less time learning than students at traditional schools. It is because online education functions differently than traditional schooling. Many factors determine how many hours daily should students learn at an online school. We asked Education World Wide teachers to share their opinions on this topic, based on their experience with our online students.

You have heard it countless times – online schools allow a more personalized approach and flexible learning. The flexibility we give to students is partially reflected in the fact that they have access to the platform 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A student can learn whenever they want and for as long as they like. But how long is the right amount of time for learning at an online school?

That is the question that has been occupying parents, teachers, and of course, students. Learning online demands a different kind of discipline for a student. Contrary to a traditional school where they stay for four to seven hours a day, they are not obliged to put in that much time learning online. A virtual learning environment can be exciting but also overwhelming for students.

Spending time in front of a screen is something that parents want to reduce in their children’s habits. Yet online school requires such screen time to properly fulfill its purpose.

Currently, it is quite normal to have students working on their assignments in front of a screen, whether it is a laptop, tablet, or even a mobile phone, since most of their academic activities are based online and require the use of digital learning environments and tools. Because of this, many parents have started to question and take into consideration the amount of time their children should spend online, and that is why for us, as educators, it is important to start establishing limits to how long this learning period should besays Sergio Pantoja, EduWW teacher who works with middle and high school students.

Teachers have to make sure that a child acquires new knowledge, and simultaneously, they have to optimize the time that a student sits in front of a screen. At Education World Wide, teachers work closely with parents to find a suitable online learning time for each student’s individual needs.

What Are Industry Standards for Time Spent Learning Online?

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standard addressed this topic last year. According to their recommendation, a student should plan on spending a particular number of hours learning online depending on their age and grade level.

GradeTime Spent Learning Online 
Elementary School – Grades 1 to 4

1 – 2 hours daily 

Middle School – Grades 5 to 8

2 – 3 hours daily 

High School – Grades 9 to 12

3 – 4 hours daily 

These recommendations have a lot of sense with what happens in real life. The number of online learning hours increases as students progress to higher grades and engage with more complex learning material. An international team of teachers at Education World Wide has a similar opinion.

EduWW Recommends: At Least Two Hours of Learning Per Day

When it comes to the youngest students, it is unreasonable to expect that they will learn unsupervised, especially online. They rarely learn on their own, and when they are not working with a teacher, they have to study with their parents’ help.

Based on my experience working daily with our youngest students all I can say is that there is no specific amount of time a particular student should spend studying online. This varies vastly according to their individual needs. As teachers, we give special care to each one of our pupils, and whenever an opportunity presents itself, we take advantage of it in the form of extra-curricular activities, different games, custom-made worksheets, etc. We give our best to help them understand the lesson material and, every once in a while, we ask them to spend between one to two hours working on it. Having said that, my opinion is that students of such a young age shouldn’t spend all day in front of the computer screen because our goal is not to overwhelm them but make their schooling journey fun and engagingsays Tammy, EduWW teacher who works with first and second graders.

Students engage with more complex learning material at higher grades, which can also affect how long they learn online. That is why our teachers make sure not to overload students with learning material. Online courses introduce learners to material gradually. Learners are introduced to material gradually. Likewise, students in higher grades have better time management skills, and they have established study habits. 

First of all, we should consider the academic load we are assigning our students and how committed they are to their own learning process since it is quite possible the student has many overdue activities which will simply start to pile on to the point of becoming a cause of anxiety for some of them, whom will get upset and therefore see their academic progress hindered. In my opinion, it is really important for all parties involved to decide from the very start some clear rules and time limits regarding students’ progress. The joined efforts of parents and teachers could really help avoid students getting behind schedule and needing to spend more time than necessary in front of their electronic devices, or at least their time working on their academic duties says Sergio.

Ultimately, it is not just about the hours students spend online, it is how effective those hours are. We all know that the internet can sidetrack students.

I am sure two well-worked hours should be enough for students to complete their daily assignments and academic responsibilities as long as there is an effective control and support network from both parents and the teaching team. Unsupervised students can easily find themselves exposed to several distractions, which would slow down their daily progress, and the screen time would, without a doubt, increase. At home, parents also need to up their tech-savvy skills and take control of their online environments by means of firewalls, parental control, and limit access to certain websites and online services/games during their children’s study time. As I mentioned already, this is a collective effort that should bear its fruits with everyone’s attention and commitmentconcludes Pantoja.


There is not a clear recommendation on how long a student should learn online. Everything depends on each student’s individual responsibility. If they are committed to learning, they will need at least two hours per day to finalize all the online school assignments. That brings us to 10 hours per week spent on studying not counting online classes. Keep in mind that students are not obliged to attend classes, they can only do assignments on the platform. As much as teachers, parents should make sure that a child is actually learning while online and not doing something else – like playing video games or browsing the internet.

The more students are dedicated and finalize assignments on time, they will have fewer hours of study. That will leave them with plenty of free time for other activities. Ultimately, that is one of the most significant benefits students get at an online school.