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
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.
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:
- Summer Term
- Harvest Term
- Autumn Term
- Winter Term
- Spring Term
- 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