2016-2017 School Year Planning
Three years ago, my good friend forced me to start the school year gradually.
According to my year-round school calendar, we start school back up after the 4th of July. I knew that experienced homeschool moms all recommended easing into a new school year rather than jumping in whole-hog, but I hadn’t been able to help myself – for 6 years!
I’d think about it, but the shiny new schedule and all the idealistic hopes and dreams overcame me and I wanted to jump straight into the whole meal deal. I had put it all together in my mind and I just knew this time it would be awesome.
I had the “fail fast” mentality (it’s a thing). At that, anyway, I succeeded.
But three years ago a friend and I began teaming up for content areas. Twice a week the big kids are at my house for “Elementary Lessons” while the younger kids are at her house for “Fun School.”
Although we do follow the same school schedule, that year her family’s summer travel plans made it obvious that starting our school swap in the summer wasn’t worth it. She pointed out that a slower, shorter summer term is preferable anyway and I nodded as if I wouldn’t have just dived in and started everything full bore on July 5th.
You know what? It is preferable.
In the summer we can do Morning Time and math and still have our morning open to join friends at the park, to go to the pool, or whatever else we decide we want to do while the weather is beautiful. Then, when it’s hot and we’re all draped over the air conditioner in the afternoon, we can add in some reading or other work – the older the student, the more work.
So, my 6-year-old will have nothing besides Morning Time and math to do, unless he’s dying to do some handwriting (doubtful). My 8-year-old will begin her spelling over the summer, starting with the very first simple, short lessons to ease her into the routine of a new program – that’s all. My 11-year-old will start his own history book and learn how to do written narrations. He’ll also start back with Latin – summer term is usually our strongest for devoting time for Latin. My 13-year-old will also do Latin, start his history and science, and also get started with Introductory Logic – his new program. Both the 11-year-old and 13-year-old will also learn the ropes of our new checklists on Trello.
Everyone will also be reading, of course. But that’s life, not school.
If we decide to skip a day and take a summer vacation (or staycation) day, I don’t sweat it. We just do. All that we’re doing is working ahead, so taking a day off will not make us behind.
It always seems that by this time in the summer (we finished mid-May), the lack of routine and meaningful work is beginning to show in attitudes and bickering, and getting everyone back into a groove where they’re not at loose ends all day is beneficial for all (not that they acknowledge it, but it’s true).
Yet, keeping up only about half our typical school load means our summer retains its laid back feel. It also gives us time to acclimate so that the classes that start up in the fall aren’t such a shock. The kids no longer go from carefree vacation to piles of books, but rather ease into a load and have a little extra space and a little less pressure to figure out at least one of their new things for the year. Then we are only building on our routines come fall rather than trying to completely shift gears and start from scratch.
Easing into our school year has been a tremendously helpful shift for us these last few years. Whether you ease in week by week for half a term in late August or early September or whether you start with a half load in July, it is so helpful to slowly wade into the deep waters, finding that perfect spot where you aren’t in over your head, rather than jump into the deep end and hope you can tread water instead of drown.