If you need a homeschool schedule that works for your family, it’s best to start with the big picture! We’ll break down some fun, unique ways to make your school year special. Most importantly, you’ll figure out a plan that will work for your family’s unique needs.
How do I plan a homeschool year?
Because I decided to accredit my homeschool (link to article), I am required to submit a plan for my homeschool year. This will allow HBEAA to ensure that:
- We are fitting in the required number of instructional days (170)
- I can submit quarterly progress reports to them at specified deadlines (based on our school year schedule)
If this sounds like a hassle, it doesn’t feel like it! I was planning on creating a yearly plan for our homeschool anyway. The only slight difference is that I’ll be marking our quarter dates based on their deadlines (this really only affects when I submit my reports to them). But I see this as an advantage, because it will allow me to gauge our progress subjectively, and adjust our goals accordingly. There won’t be any last minute panic around here! We’ll be set and secure at the end of the year, with an awesome first year of homeschool under our belts!
There are many different ways to plan a homeschool year!
Way #1: Traditional School Year
If you like, and feel comfortable with, a “traditional school year” schedule (September-May, roughly), there’s no need to feel like you have to do something different!
Pros to the traditional school year:
- Summer Vacation when public/private school friends will also have time off- easier potential play dates or sleepovers
- Weekends and National Holidays off, which could align well with friends/family members’ schedules
- Easy to fit in any required number of instructional days, if you are accrediting or just want to make sure your school year fits a certain structure
- It might just feel easier, if you are accustomed to this schedule or your kids previously attended a school on this schedule
Cons to the traditional school year:
- It’s a lot of school days in a row, without a break
- You’ll be on vacation at the same time as “everybody else”- longer lines at Disney World!
- It could feel boring or monotonous, or force you into a pattern you don’t enjoy, because you had less of a hand in creating it
Way #2: A few weeks on, a few weeks off
Plan a homeschool year around a few week “sprints”, and then a longer break has the potential to alleviate any burnout. If you’re planning on using a “Unit Studies” homeschool method, this could be the perfect way to set your schedule. Work through a unit, then take a break while you plan and prep for the next one.
This is the schedule I plan on using- three weeks on, one week off for the summer through winter holidays. Then four weeks on, two weeks off from January – June. Yes, that means we will have a pretty short summer break in a few months- only about four weeks. But then we’ll have LOTS more little breaks peppered throughout the year. I think this schedule will give my kids (and me) the best chance at staying focused and also have the side effect of avoiding the “summer slide”.
Way #3: Four Days a Week, All Year Round*
*OK, technically there is time for about a six-week summer break, but that depends on how much time you want to take off around the winter holidays.
If you think less is more, then a four day work week, with a three day weekend, might be the perfect solution. This allows for a steady, predictable yearly schedule- allowing a few weeks for vacation either once or twice a year as you would prefer. Then you can enjoy your leisurely weekends, with lots of extra time for additional field trips, family weekends to the cabin, etc. Again, no need to worry about summer slide, and a bigger relaxation buffer at the end of every week. This could be a good schedule if you have very small kids with shorter attention spans.
Way #4: Split into Quarters
If you’re thinking about accreditation, this could be the easiest way to track your school days and submit reports. Each quarter would be roughly eight weeks long, with a couple extra days on either side, just to get up to 170 (I should say, that’s the minimum amount of required days in my state; it’s entirely possible your number is different! Make sure to check it out!). You’d have about a week off at the end of each quarter to refresh and prep for the next one; you’d also have a real summer break.
Way #5: Divided Evenly Between Each Month!
If you want to do school year-round, in a few sprints at a time, you can just divide 170 school days over the twelve months of the year. It works out to about 15 days each month. Those days are yours to schedule wherever you want, and you can take breaks whenever you want! This is by far the most flexible schedule, but also would be the least predictable. It could be a very desirable schedule for families who are interested in a truly unstructured school experience, or who want to travel extensively!
How will you schedule your school year?
Leave a comment and let me know how you will plan a homeschool year! And don’t forget to sign up for my email list and get your free calendar! Also, remember, you can try lots of different things before you land on what’s right for your family. Don’t feel like, once you start a schedule, you have to stick to it forever. The whole point of homeschooling is the balance and flexibility it provides, right?!
If you’re looking for other ideas for a unique homeschool, you might like: How to Make Our Homeschools More Like Schools in Finland