When we first started homeschooling, it was mid school year and we just followed the same schedule as the school district. But, as the year progressed, I felt this leading to start our 2nd school year in the summer. So, I counted back the days, accommodating for holidays and vacations and we started school in June, rather than August. We went to school four days a week, taking Fridays off. We tried this for two years and at the end of the school year last year, I felt like I needed a break, since we had not been able to take a Spring Break because we took off some extra days here and there and did not want to fall behind in our studies. So, we took the entire summer off from school and started back when the public school children did.
It was very nice having the summer off, but what I found was that the children did indeed lose some of what they had learned over the summer. Just from not using it as they had during the school year, some of that information had made an exodus from their minds. The other drawback for us was that if we needed to take a day off for illness or something unexpected, it put us behind. Then I would constantly feel like I needed to double up lessons or squeeze more into each day we had. It was very stressful.
So, for this school year, we are giving the year-round schedule another try. We just completed our first two weeks of our new school year and so far so good! The main benefit of this schedule is that it is much more flexible than the five-day schedule. If we need to miss a day of school during the week, that Friday is there as a buffer, so we don’t fall behind in our studies. Plus, if we want to arrange a play-date, field trip, or even a fun day at the park, Fridays are the day to do it. We don’t feel like we have to miss out on something because we have too much work to do. That feeling is not only stressful to me, but it can also be stressful to the children.
If you have never tried year-round schooling in your homeschooling family, I have some advice that helps me stay organized and keep on track. First, I plan out my schedule out in advance. I like to plan the whole year out, so I am prepared, but maybe doing it quarterly or even monthly works better for you. You have to do what you are most comfortable with. Our school year is 45 weeks long (accounting for Christmas, Spring Break, a couple weeks in the summer, and Vacations). I also like to plan out my lessons for the whole year as a pacing guide, but again, that might not work for you, but it is the way I keep on track.
Now, the way I explained this schedule to my children was this: “We have school 4 days a week, but if you have not finished all of your work, then you will have to finish it on Friday.” I give my older kids a weekly schedule with their assignments on it. By doing it this way, they all know what is expected of them and they are allowed to at their own pace. For example, for next week, they have 4 math lessons. If they want to work ahead and be done with Math early, they can. Once they have completed what is necessary for the week, they are done for the week. That way they can have more time for reading (they have not been reading enough lately… lol) and playing and being with friends. Plus, more time for the kids and I to have some fun playing together.
To review, since I may have babbled on a bit :)
Year Round Homeschooling Tips
- Plan ahead – have your schedule and lesson plans written out in advance
- Be flexible – if you need an extra week off for vacation – take it – and pick back up on your schedule/lessons when you return
- Let the kids know they can have Fridays off if they do what they need to each day (or have extra time to play if they want to work a ahead a little in one subject or two) – Plus, Mom needs that time off too, even if it is just to get caught up on grading papers… lol.
- Breathe easier – year-round schooling can take some stress away
So, if you have never tried year-round homeschooling, I want you to know that you can do it. It is not as scary or mean as it sounds. Your children, if they are like mine, will even look forward to it. Once I had all their new school books and folders and everything set out on my shelf, my kiddos were asking: “When are we going to start?” They could not wait. Now that we have started, we are keeping the days light, with lots of review to build their confidence. By the time the end of the week sneaks up on us, we are done our work and have a day off to relax enjoy our time together.
Copyright © Alicia Tucker, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved
About the Author: Alicia Tucker is a homeschool mom of 3 children, after having worked in public schools in NJ and SC for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology, as well as a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Technology. Alicia is also Moms of Faith lead prayer warrior and columnist.