It’s been awhile since I did an updated homeschooling post, and with so many who made the switch to home education this past year, I felt this was long overdue! If you waded through your first year as a home educator, welcome friend. It takes at minimum six months to de-school from public education, and another six months at least to find a good rhythm and what works for your family. I wanted to share today about why I decided to do a year-round homeschooling schedule, what that looks like for us (including how we use our breaks), and how I plan out our year with curriculum.
Why A Year-Round Homeschooling Schedule?
First of all let’s get one thing out of the way: I am not telling you how to run your home education. My absolute FAVORITE part of being a home educator is the freedom it gives our family. You get to choose how you want to homeschool, when you do school, what curriculums you want to use! I decided to do a year-round homeschooling schedule a couple of years ago when I was still relatively new to it and finding my footing. I quickly realized that my son thrives best with structure and at least some predictability. We are for rhythms rather than rigidity, and our schooling looks different based on the season (as you’ll see below). However, I’ve found that year-round schooling with longer breaks in-between cultivates what I’ve always envisioned for home education: A lifestyle of learning. It’s important to remember whether you have a year-round homeschooling schedule or not, kids are learning 100% of the time. In play, in the media they consume, in the behavior the adults around them are modeling, with their peers, the experiences they have with travel, art, museums, etc. they are always learning. Homeschooling year-round has simply given us the opportunity to lean in even more to that lifestyle and give my son what he needs to thrive physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
How We Create A Year-Round Homeschooling Schedule
So, now you know the why, but practically, what does a year-round homeschooling schedule look like? Typically, we tend to follow a six weeks on, one week off schedule, give or take. Our main curriculum is Classical Conversations, which meets 24 weeks out of the year. It covers most subjects, but we also use The Good And The Beautiful for Language Arts and Math. This is our main focus during what most would call a “typical school year.” So for us, a year-round homeschooling schedule looks like this:
- August-October: 7 weeks on, 1 week off. In the fall, we usually start with language arts and math the week before our Classical Conversations weekly community day kicks off. This helps us ease into our fall rhythm. That means we are schooling for seven straight weeks (6 weeks of CC, 7 weeks with LA & math). The first week of October is usually the week we take off for fall break.
- October-November: 6 weeks on. After fall break, we get right back into the swing of all subjects for the next six weeks, right up until the week before Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving-New Years: 6 weeks off. Yes we take off a full six weeks during the holidays…because we can. That time gets easily packed, and we want to slow down and enjoy it. We soak in the slowness. We make our Christmas season bucket-list, plan it out, and check off everything as we go. We are not rushed, we are not stressed, we enjoy every minute of it. We wake up leisurely, do our Advent time, bake treats and hot chocolate literally every day, play games, do some Christmas themed read-alouds, and simply connect. It’s glorious, and I am so thankful to have the freedom to not ascribe to the “hustle and bustle.” As a family, we reject that.
- January-March: 7 weeks on, 1 week off. Similar to our August-October season, we pick back up with LA & math the week before our CC community starts meeting again. We literally start back right after New Years, the first week of January. We make it till our CC Spring Break, usually the week before most school districts around here do theirs.
- March-May: 9 weeks on. This is our longest stint of the year. We finish up our last six week CC cycle mid-April (usually right around Easter). With CC over, we use those last three (ish) weeks to finish up our LA and math curriculum. I aim to be done by the first or second week of May.
- Mid-May-June: 4 weeks off. We take this time to celebrate all that Kai has accomplished thus far! Finishing curriculum is a HUGE deal, and we want him to be proud of the work he’s done. We take this time to rest, have fun, and start our summer bucket-list. He’s also done with gymnastics competition season at this point, so it’s like a big exhale for all of us.
- June-Mid-July: 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. In the summer, we keep schooling light. We don’t work on formal subjects, but we do keep a little structure. Typically what I utilize summer as a time for Kai to practice on something I noticed him struggle with during our main subjects, things we aren’t able to get to like language learning Japanese, fun science experiments and STEM activities he enjoys, and letting Kai pick something he really wants to learn about and run with it. We usually finish up mid-July so that I have two full weeks to prep for getting back into our next level of main subjects.
- August-Start Again: And now, we’ve come full circle! Back to where we started, we begin the next level of our main subjects, and look forward seeing our CC community again!
What We Do On Our Breaks
So, what do we do on these breaks, especially the long ones? The biggest thing to remember when homeschooling is that it is relationship over curriculum. No curriculum is worth ruining our relationship over. We need time to just be mama and child, not teacher and student. The mama and child relationship comes first. So, we have fun! We chuck out the to-do lists and simply play. During at least one of those breaks, we go on a family trip together, and on the shorter breaks enjoy lots of local outings. We see friends, we make our family a priority, we rest for busy seasons ahead. It also gives me time to re-group and decide, what is currently working with homeschooling, and what is not? How do I need to change that in the new year? I take a look at our calendar, make adjustments where needed, get feedback from Kai as he is the student and has a say in the matter too. What is he enjoying? What is he struggling with? If there’s one thing he would change, what would it be? It’s so important to have these conversations, because kids often don’t get a say in their own education. Homeschooling allows him a voice in it. I also take the longer breaks to clean out, and re-organize so we can start fresh.
Planning out our Year-round Curriculum schedule
The great thing about a year-round homeschooling schedule is you don’t have to do all subjects all the time. To me, that is really overwhelming. Kai is still at an age where our school time can be no more than an hour. One hour of structured school time per day (other than CC day which is about 4), is all he can handle at age seven. Remember they are always learning! Therefore, that is why I stick to two main subjects that are the foundation for him right now: Math and Language Arts. We do one math, and one LA lesson per day. We usually go over CC memory work in the car to and from gym, and the rest of our day is filled with that lifestyle learning. As he gets older (within the next couple of years), I know that school work will get lengthier, but right now we focus on those things (and do a ton of reading aloud). The math and LA are easy buys, I just move up to the next level when we complete them. Then I will look over what our next cycle for CC is, and start planning things that will compliment it (or prepare him for it in the summer). I typically buy our curriculum for summer and the coming fall/spring semesters by April. Then that in-between summer-fall week, I sit down and actually pencil lessons on the calendar for the year, always giving wiggle room for things to change when life happens or something needs to be re-worked. I use pencil as a general rule, because I typically don’t get Kai’s competition season schedule till late October, and I always leave room for breaks, doubling up on lessons when needed so we can take a day or two off after a traveling meet, leave birthdays open, etc. This helps me not feel stressed, and also gives me a vision for our year ahead and to look for fun additions and supplementations to what we are doing (ahem…that’s lifestyle learning!).
My favorite reminder from Sarah Mackenzie is that you are never behind. You are always exactly where you need to be. Sometimes, we need to sit and savor something a little longer. Other times, there are going to be emotions or needs that come up that deserve to be tended to, deepening the relationship that matters far more than the curriculum on a calendar. If you homeschool year-round, I’d love to hear how you do it!