A Year-Round Homeschool Schedule

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This is our fourth year of using a year-round calendar. I thoroughly enjoy it, so I thought I’d line out a little more about the why and the how.

The Benefits of Schooling Year-Round

  • Common problems like February burnout happen less often and less intensely, because we get regular breaks and don’t stretch our endurance to the breaking point. There is always the light of a break week shining near at hand.

  • Moreover, our breaks don’t stretch on and on in one big summer-long mess of chaos and lack of routine. We don’t have to spend a bunch of time reviewing to catch up at the beginning of the year, because the information and skills stay fresh and in use.

  • With breaks regularly scheduled throughout the year, we can take advantage of off-season vacations and empty parks.

  • We can concentrate our breaks around when the weather here is consistently pleasant all day, rather than having a summer break where everyone is inside most of the afternoon hanging over the air conditioning.

Setting up an All Year School Calendar

planning a year-round school calendar
Some begin their year-round schedule in January, thus making Christmas break the end of the year break as well. That certainly makes sense, but our year runs July through May. When we first started, I started in August. Hans’ birthday is in August, and the school supplies are all out at that point. And I do love a back-to-school sale! Eventually, I decided that I wanted to take the month of June off for our summer, end-of-year break (June is always lovely here, and my birthday is the 1st). That necessitated moving the start up to July. This year is an anomoly; we’ll be starting in June so we can accomodate a baby break in November. I like that this gives us 2-3 weeks off for Christmas halfway through our year (and Christmas is busy enough without adding in school planning!) and then another 3-4 weeks off between our years at the best time of year weather-wise.

School Terms

Because it’s the way I do things, our terms have names. A friend’s friend named her group’s terms by church calendar names, which makes sense. I don’t know why, really, but it just didn’t seem to work or fit for me. So, mine are named by the seasons:

  1. Summer Term
  2. Harvest Term
  3. Autumn Term
  4. Winter Term
  5. Spring Term
  6. Verdure Term

That gives us 36 weeks of school, leaving 16 weeks for breaks. There is a sanity-saving one-week break between each term, plus I always try to arrange the terms to end by the longer breaks: Christmas, Easter, and then the end. We take 1 week off for Thanksgiving, 2-3 weeks off for Christmas, 2 weeks off for Easter (though not in 2013, because of the baby break), and then June off.

So, our plan is to continue on our six six-week year-round terms. I like having the frequent off-week for catching up around the house, in the kitchen, and with the papers; plus, I have the margin for returning library books, getting the new ones, and shifting around our hymns and memory work.

This year, however, I did outline the year so we never take more than two weeks off at a time. After three weeks off, I learned this year, it is pulling teeth to get us back on routine. So this year I won’t even go there. I am toying with the idea of keeping a brief Circle Time daily, even on our off-day and even during break weeks, too, just because it is a good prompt to propel us into a good day. I don’t do well with lazy mornings. And I am keeping all the subjects simple and straightforward so that we can finish by lunch, schooling 4 days a week, with Mondays off — not counting an hour or two of independent reading in the afternoon.

Related posts found elsewhere

Here are some of the best scheduling-related blog posts I have read:

School Planning” by Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace

Scheduling Our Weeks & Days by Angelina in Louisiana

Little Grains of Sand” by Cindy Rollins

To Schedule or Not to Schedule” by Deputy HeadMistress

The Scheduler & the Dawdler” by Cindy Rollins

New Days” or “Rocks in a Jar” by Ann Voskamp

Spring-Like & Feverish” by Mental Multivitamin links to some of my favorite of her thoughts

How to Plan Out an Entire Year of Homeschooling Before Beginning

And now, from you:

  1. I like this a lot! Thank you…we are going to be schooling year round this year due to time taken off for our new baby as well, but I’ve been thinking and praying about it and I see the benefits. I’ve been planning on doing the same thing from now on. Just taken breaks here and there for various family things.

  2. As you know, we are trying this for the first time this year. I haven’t yet finalized our schedule, but I plan to begin the first week of August. After five years of doing things according to the local school calendar, I completely identify with what you said about stretching endurance to the breaking point. And often that means *my* endurance! I’ve also noticed that a couple of my children are not doing as well with long breaks…they start to flounder and cause trouble for themselves and others. I think this might solve both of those problems.

    I still don’t know how you plan a year at a time. I mean, I know *how* you do it, I just don’t know how to do it here, at least not thoroughly. I update plans weekly based on our actual schedule. Do you do that sort of thing, too?

    What are the names of your friend’s terms? The one who uses the church calendar? Just curious…

    • On updating weekly: No, I don’t really, though occasionally I reevaluate during the term break. *But* the reason I don’t have to is because I do not have specific pages or lessons in the plan — we do the next thing.

      So, for example, if Circle Time doesn’t happen one day, it doesn’t happen and we aren’t behind. If we miss Friday’s “illustrate Bible lesson” assignment, we miss it and it’s not a big deal. If we missed reading the passage Tuesday, then we’ll either read it Wednesday w/ the lesson or shift the days and skip drawing on Friday. OR if we missed it two days, we just review the other days and are “behind” (but there are no lesson numbers on my plan, so there’s nothing to adjust on paper) and either double up one week or skip a review week, and I only have 34 weeks of it planned anyway. But I’m adjusting as we go through the book, as we’re sitting at the table, not during a planning session.

      We’re only halfway through the Latin book, because it just didn’t happen half the time. We just do the next page or lesson when we pick it up. And we’ll pick up where we left off at the start of the “new” year.

  3. I REALLY appreciate this series! We are going to be fostering to adopt a baby so the little one could arrive at ANYTIME! Our last adoption threw our homeschool into a tail spin. But I think by being so organzined and well planned I’ll be able to stop & start on a dime. I’m printing out your last two posts! My weakness has been to keep too much in my head, for instance I would ‘kinda’ know what I wanted to do on a busy day & kinda plan to do both copywork and handwriting practice but not have set days etc… Also I am not a great organizer this has shown me that I was only doing about 1/2 of the work I needed to do to get to where I want to go. Now perhaps a gift for you Mystie we are also reformed and we use the Truth & Grace books by Ascol they have a reformed Catechism (Hiedelberg & West Minister (modified)) Voddie Baucham’s church (it’s not listed on their website but we fellowship with folks from that church) use the same ones. It has made it a lot easier to Catechise(sp?) the kiddos. Blessings and thanks so much for thinking it ALL the way through! Kyle

    • Kyle, that’s exciting! I hope this does help; let me know if any questions come up along the way.

      I’ll have to look into that book; I hadn’t heard of it. Right now we are memorizing the Catechism for Young Children (shortest Westminster) & a few select Heidelberg (our church uses the Heidelberg).

      • The TAG books are based off of the Catechism for Boys & Girls. Do look into the books and I forgot to tell you the best part the books are only about $4-5 each!!! Super affordable!Well, I Gotta go plan a successful homeschool year. :)

  4. Okay Mystie, So here is my first question. Each year I make my own homeschool planner. I’d love to know what you’d put in your year long homeschool planner. Also if you’d seperate homeschool / home. In the past that is what I’ve done but then I tended to have scheduling conflicts with dueling calendars. Or I’d only use one of the two calendars etc… I’m thinking if everything is in one planner that might simplify my life. I am very curious to know what you think/do.

    • I use Google calendar for anything that goes on a calendar, including which weeks we are on and off, and I block off our general school hours, too.

      For the “what to do” sort of planner, I have a weekly outline sheet I work off of, writing what actually gets done as we go (i.e. it says “math” & each day I write what we actually did in math). But I’m trying out a paperless plan this year, so I’ll show that bit when I get it worked out.