Scheduling Your Homeschool Year

Whether you school year round or follow a traditional school calendar, the fact is that most homeschoolers end up schooling from about 150 to 180 days each calendar year. These days can be scheduled in a variety of ways.  When I first began homeschooling over ten years ago, a lady shared with me a document that listed several different yearly homeschooling schedules.  I have since lost my copy, but I have recently recreated my own version.

You will have to consider your state’s homeschooling requirements as you review these options.  Each of the following choices are based on a 180 day school year.

  • School for 36 weeks, August-May.  If you begin the first Monday in August, you will school for 18 weeks before Christmas break, and then 18 weeks after Christmas break.  This schedule allows a one week break for the week of Thanksgiving, and a one week spring break sometime in March or April.  If you wanted to begin your school year a few days later in August, you would just have to continue schooling a few days closer to Christmas break.  This schedule gives you 3 weeks off for the December/January holiday season.  If you start back to school on the first Monday after the New Year, your 18 weeks will be completed by the third week of May.  This schedule gives you 11 weeks for a summer break.
  • School for 36 weeks, 9 weeks on, 4 weeks off. This works well if you are doing unit studies, or are teaching younger children.  I am not sure how well this would work for high school students.  I personally have not tried this schedule.  An example of scheduling this way could look like this:  School July 11- Sept. 9, off 4 weeks; school Oct. 10 -Dec. 16 (This is actually 10 weeks, but this would allow you to have a week off for Thanksgiving if you wish.  The December break would just be 3 weeks instead of 4 if you chose to break for a week at Thanksgiving); school Jan. 9-Mar. 9, off 4 weeks; school April 9-June 8, off 4 weeks; and then it would be July 9, and time to begin a new school year.
  • School for 36 weeks, 4 weeks on, 1 week off. This schedule allows you to work really hard for 4 weeks, and then use the off week for appointments, travel, etc.  Using this schedule actually allows for some of those 1 week breaks to be extended during the year, because there are 7 extra off weeks this way.  You could use the extra weeks in December and the summer, or you could distribute them evenly throughout the year.
  • School for 36 weeks, 12 weeks on, 5 weeks off. This school year would consist of three sets of 12 weeks of school, with a 5 or 6 week break between each 12 week session.
  • School for 180 days each year, taking off random days an weeks throughout the year. This is the plan that my family uses.  My husband has an average of three days of from work each month, in addition to a week off in the fall, a week off in the spring, a week off in December, and two weeks off each summer.  We began our homeschooling journey by doing school when Daddy was at work, and being off from school when he was off from work.  Since my husband has many days off each year, this really works for us.  I begin each new school year in August, and we try to finish up the school year in late June or early July.  This gives us about 3 weeks totally off from school each summer, and I use that time to prepare for the new school year.  We also have 2-3 extra weeks off in December and a couple of more weeks off each summer for camps and Vacation Bible School.

Taking the days off all throughout the year has eliminated burn-out for me as well as for the children. We enjoy our family days.  On school days, we work diligently, and on our days off, we play and work together as a family.  Also, not taking a long summer break has prevented us from having to do review work for the month of August.

I hope these calendar choices will help you as you plan your upcoming school year.  What kind of calendar do you use?

Roan is the homeschooling mother of 5 children whose ages range from 5-16.  She blogs regularly about both her school and off days at her personal blog, Joyful Always

photo credit:  Microsoft Office Clip Art


Comments

  1. Jessy says

    Our year ends with the successful completion of our portfolio reviews (and our 175 legally required days) and begins the day after. For the most part though our year goes from early September through early May. We take a break around Thanksgiving and Christmas and up to a week in February, but otherwise it’s school. We like to have 3-4 months off for summer since Maine’s winter goes so long.

  2. says

    We have to go by hours and not days. We will start back July 18th and end May 18. However, that allows for vacation, spring break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and any other days we need to take a break.

  3. Sharalyn says

    Well, my son thrives on schedules, and if we break routine, it takes us a week to get back on track. So we start the day after Labor Day, and unless there is a holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) on a weekday, we just push through until that grade is completed (we don’t have minimum number of days here, just set subjects that have to be taught and testing each year). Then he gets the time off after that for the summer. We will have “read-ins” on days we need a break from “regular” school, and every Friday is “field trip day.”

    During the summer, we focus on Science (lots of experiments outside and such) and reading, reading, reading. He’s almost completed the first 10 hours for the library’s summer reading program already.

    I also issue him a challenge for the summer with a stack of books that I choose (ones that normally would be assigned at a public school)–for each one he finishes, he earns a dollar to be spent at the county fair at the end of the summer (he earns a free ticket through the library’s summer reading program). We discuss the books and what he liked/disliked about them, but there are no writing assignments for them. He can also just read whatever he wants too.

    He keeps a journal that we write back and forth to each other year round, also.

  4. says

    We tend to follow the Aug.-May plan, though, this year I’m trying to get in some extra days during the summer to allow for a couple of extra breaks during the winter doldrums months when we all start feeling a little burnout.

  5. says

    We’re just starting out so still trying to figure out what works for us..but I think I’m going to try 8 weeks on, 1 week off plus light of off Fridays depending how things are going..there’s no set requirements in my province so the exact number of days doesn’t really matter

  6. says

    Great post. Its so funny because I was just thinking about this today and wondering when we should actually start. I’m a newbie homeschooler.

    • says

      I am not sure about how many hours constitute a school day. I live in Mississippi, and we do not have any hours per day requirements. I count a school day as a day that we do one lesson in all of our subjects. I use Sonlight, and the Instructor Guides have 180 lessons for each core. Our math curriculum has 160 lessons plus 16 tests. Some other subjects have 34 weeks of lessons rather than 36 (which is 180 school days).

  7. says

    We usually just school until we need a break. I try to get in 80-90 days by the beginning of December so we can enjoy the rest of the month off and pick back up in January. I just love the flexibility that comes with homeschooling.

  8. says

    Thanks for this post. It prompted me to really rethink our schedule. We love being outside, so I usually opt for summers off. Having regular breaks would sure be a nice way to beat the burn-out. After much thought and plotting on a calendar tonight, I think we’ll be doing a 6 weeks on, 1 week off, many weeks free in the summer type of plan. I love the idea of getting a break every six weeks! It’s going to be a great year!
    I was struggling to get motivated to plan, and I think this post has given me the boost I needed. Thank you. :)

    • says

      I am so happy that this motivated you! We are finishing our current school year tomorrow, and I will have 5 weeks off to plan and organize our upcoming school year. I will be getting out my calendar and planning our school days and our days off to insure that we school enough days.

  9. says

    Thanks, I appreciate seeing this. I have taken time off throughout the year, but have never stuck to one plan. This helps. It is nice to schedule those down days.

  10. Lynda says

    We tend to homeschool for 10 months out of the year. We have school from Jan through May, take June off (that way it is not too hot yet, and the kids tend to spend lots of time outside – in July that changes, so we may as well have school, right?) Then we have school from July to November, and take December off. Then, whatever holiday Dad has off, we take that day off as well (Labor Day, Independence Day, etc.) It works out to about 40 weeks of school. We have used this schedule for about 8 years and has worked well for us. That way, if we have lots of leeway for trips, illness, or just plain don’t-want-to-do-school days, and still stay above 180 days. (The law in our state is 5 3/4 hours/day, 180 days/year)

  11. says

    We school year round and don’t really have set breaks. We don’t report here, but I keep track anyways…. since we started Nov 15th we’ve got 144 days already. We have issues with long breaks so just tend to take off a day here or there as we want. I have no issues with this since if we follow the same track we’ll be at 220+ days by the time mid-Nov rolls around again.

  12. says

    Great to see these different options! I always feel like I *should* do something rigidly structured, like with the several 36-week plans, but honestly, that does not work for our family. We are a 180 days with a very flexible schedule kind of family. I can’t try to cram our styles and preferences in a box that just doesn’t fit and I can’t condemn myself because we’re not doing it like someone else. I’ve come across several really encouraging posts on homeschool planning and this is one I’m bookmarking…thanks!

  13. says

    We’re beginning to homeschool our children with this school year and I have been wondering how best to schedule ourselves. I love the idea of weeks on then a week off so I have time to plan for then next section. Thanks for the great suggestions.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Scheduling Your Homeschool Year – The Homeschool Classroom Great ideas from Roan about a variety of ways to set up your homeschool year.  We tend to go with a pretty traditional school year, but I love the idea of giving it a go to try a different set up sometime.  I wonder if it would help stave off the doldrums that pop up from time to time. [...]