I think one of the biggest challenges of being a homeschool parent is the added stress of taking on responsibility for their entire education. All of the decisions, all of the planning, all the choices are in my, and my husband’s, hands. That’s also a lot of extra work that needs to be done each day, a whole new to-do list in my already busy schedule! The pros outweigh this con, by far, but towards the end of every school year, I always feel on the verge of burn-out, and I also see this exhaustion in my children.
Until this fall we have always followed the public school calendar. I have mentioned in previous posts that we have a kid in public school who is going to be a senior this year. After this year we won’t need to follow the school calendar at all. Michigan is pretty lax in their homeschool laws, so really, I can school any time that works for us!
So this year we’re going to try something different… A year-round homeschool schedule!
This can look different for every homeschool family, but for this first year of trying we used the following points to help us map out our schedule:
- We’re loosely following the public school schedule so that all three kids are on breaks around the same time, this always makes things easier. They will all start on the same day and whenever our oldest has a week (or more) break, the younger ones will also.
- We’re taking a week off around each kid’s birthday
- The whole week of Thanksgiving will be a break for us (it always is because we’re busy baking).
- Most of December off (we’ve always done this for our homeschool).
- One week in February. Cold snowy days make my kids want to play outside all day, sickness keeps us on the couch or we just decide we need a break in there to help us with cabin fever.
- Spring break that follows with public school.
- One week off in May because we always start to feel that end-of-year burnout and our 3rd term ends in May.
- Summer break will start for us in the last week of June until around mid-August
Why am I going to do it this way?
- The number one reason we are trying this simply because we can! This will be our 5th year of homeschooling and our 4th year of more structured homeschooling. Being set in a way that works for you is great and all, but sometimes we crave a little change.
- After this year, we can create any schedule that pleases us! We can sleep in more, we can create a rhythm that works uniquely to our homeschooling needs. So we can break whenever we want/need to. Since my husband and sons enjoy winter the most, it makes sense to let them break more and enjoy what that season brings them!
- A shorter summer break means less to forget in between grades. This is a big reason that public schools have started trying this schedule out. Less time is spent reminding kids about what they learned last year when the break was just a couple weeks ago instead of almost three months ago.
- More breaks= a fresh mind throughout the year. This goes for kids AND for teachers! If there was a really simple solution to a problem you faced often, wouldn’t it make sense to utilize that solution?! All of our terms are 6 weeks with a break, but in certain places throughout the year, I have tweaked where I placed our break at times when we would normally start to feel burnout. Breaks are so necessary to both adults and children and will help promote more harmony in our home and learning environment.
- No crowds! During the summer the campgrounds are flooded with people! Often, its difficult to even find a place to camp, and it’s so hot all day and night that honestly, why would you really want to? Now mid-September, THAT’S a good time to camp! It’s cooler at night, but just cool enough that it’s cozy and comforting to sit around a fire, it warms up quite a bit during the day to still do fun summer activities like swimming, and everyone else is at work/school so it’s a more peaceful and quiet experience!
- During the dog days of summer, when heat advisories beg you to be inside in the air conditioning, you can make that time productive by working through the curriculum instead of sitting in front of the tv all day. May as well work those minds! This is a schedule that really allows you to get into a natural flow and rhythm!
So, how exactly do you schedule out the year in advance?
Since we still have a public school student, we waited until the yearly calendar for our district was updated. That way I knew ahead of time when their breaks were. That also helped me choose a start date for us. In the Happy Planner Teacher Editions this year, you get a whole year of monthly logs, so after I marked off all the dates of importance for public school, I then looked at weeks I knew we would want off in our homeschool. Holidays that we take a week or more off for I marked out first. Then I started numbering our weeks and terms. Most of the terms are 6 straight weeks and then at least 1 week off. Some terms are broken up with a break (wherever a birthday or holiday fell), but I’m not against breaking up a term a little bit. For me counting the weeks and terms is just how I’m going to keep track and make sure we are getting around 180 days. While I’m not obligated to school 180 days, our curriculum goes by that number and most school districts follow this too.
We are excited to try out this new schedule! I feel it will definitely help with exhaustion that we feel after doing school for so many weeks in a row. Especially with a 3rd grader now, the workload is increasing and it will be a lot for my student and myself! One of my favorite parts of homeschool is that it can be tailored to suit each individual, and I’m excited to extend that even further by creating a schedule that fits our needs too! I’m sure I’ll be learning from, and tweaking this schedule, especially in this first year, and that even sounds fun to me!
Here’s how this schedule looks in my Happy Planner monthly log:
Until next time friends!