Top 10 Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Calendar

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I’m one of those people who plans out our school year calendar every year before we get started. Our state requires an 180-day school year, so I want to make sure I’ve got a plan for getting them all accounted for in a way that suits our family’s needs.

For example, I’ve always made planned our calendar so that we’re finished before May 26 each year since that’s Brianna’s birthday, and birthdays are school holidays around here. And, no, we don’t make those days up. They are scheduled days off. {I’m looking at you, crazy lady from Chuck E. Cheese a few years ago.}

If you’re new to homeschooling and not sure how you want to schedule your year, or you’ve been at this for awhile, and you’re ready for change, I’ve got some ideas for you.

homeschool calendar schedules

1. Six weeks on/one week off

Although we decided not to use it this year, my family and I were particularly fond of a six-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule for several years. We would typically start school the week after July 4, and do six weeks on/one week off until Thanksgiving. We’d take off the week of Thanksgiving until the week after New Year’s, then go back to six weeks on/one week off. That brought us to the end of May and allowed for a six-week summer break.

2. Labor Day to Memorial Day

Many of our friends prefer a more traditional school year schedule. They like to start after Labor Day, enjoying a full summer break. I notice this tends to be our friends with pools. {grin}

Some of our friends who do this school until Memorial Day while others go into the first couple of weeks of June. This schedule allows for a:

  • 3-month summer break
  • One-week fall break
  • Two-week Christmas break
  • One-week spring break

It also leaves room for 3-4 one-day National holiday breaks (or your kids’ birthdays!)

3. Four weeks on/one week off

If you need a more consistent schedule, prefer more frequent breaks, or have kids who don’t do well with longer breaks, a four-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule may appeal to you. You can adjust your break time to allow a two-week Christmas break with a long summer break, a shorter summer break with December off, or random breaks throughout the year, as needed.

4. Semester and quarter schedules

A nine-weeks-on/two-weeks-off schedule is ideal if your family (or your homeschool curriculum) follows traditional semester and quarter schedules. A 36-week school year can be divided into four 9-week quarters with a 2-week break between each. Additionally, two of those 9-week sessions can be combined into fall and spring semesters.

5. Four-day school week

For those who prefer an actual year-round schedule, four-day school weeks may work best. This allows for a completely year round schedule with the flexibility of a few weeks off, as needed, during the year. Additionally, a year round, 4-day school schedule can be the ultimate sanity-saver when it comes to scheduling appointments or co-op, or making up unexpected days off.

Top 10 Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Calendar

6. Split it up.

If you’re just looking for a regular routine, you can split 180 days into 12 months. That gives you 15 school days per month, each month, in whatever way you’d like to schedule them.

7. Track-as-you-go schedule

Many homeschooling families prefer simply to track their school days as they occur, taking time off as needed. That would so not work for our family because my kids would be trying to make every day an off day. However, I am trying this technique with my homeschool planning for some subjects this year, logging what we do in my homeschool planner each day, rather than trying to plan out the entire week. So far, so good!

8. Public school calendar

Families with another child who attends public (or private) school or a spouse who works in the school system may prefer the simplicity of following that school’s calendar so that everyone is on the same schedule. Planning couldn’t be easier since it’s already done for you.

9. Calendar year.

I have known homeschooling families who schedule their school year within a calendar year (January – December). I confess that I would find that method confusing because it’s so out-of-the-ordinary and so different from our state’s required reporting dates. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for other families, so it’s worth mentioning.

The method of schooling 15 days each month could work well with a calendar year schedule.

10. Completely customized.

I am one of those people who needs a certain rhythm and routine, so this suggestion would probably not work for me, but you could completely customize your schedule based on your family’s needs. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. You can do 4 days this week, 5 days next week, take a week off for a family vacation, and come back to a 3-day week. The only requirement (depending on your state’s homeschool laws) would be ensuring that 180 days (or whatever your state requires) are met.

You can pick up more great tips for planning your homeschool year from Blueprint Homeschooling by Amy Knepper. (You can also read my review of Blueprint Homeschooling.)

How do you plan your homeschool year? Leave a comment so other homeschooling moms and dads can get some ideas.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. We do a six week on/one week off modified. Since our state doesn’t require a specified number of days, we usually go 4 days per week with actual class time. On Mondays he has independent reading/projects so my husband (who is a stay-at-home dad) can use that day to study Sunday School lessons or work on his blog without having to fight over the computer. We take off from Thanksgiving to New Years and the entire month of June. Last year we tried to take days off when we needed them and found school to be a battle.

  2. We do a 6 week on, one week off schedule with the younger kids, and a more traditional school year with the high school age kids. This allows us to start school for several weeks with the younger kids before also having to work the older kids in. Our state also requires 180 days. My evaluator is very laid back, though, and firmly believes that if a child is awake, they’re learning, so I don’t actually count the days that we’re doing “school work,” because to my evaluator (and me), every day is a school day.

  3. We have traditionally gone M-F from the last week of August until the first week of June, taking a week off for Thanksgiving, 3 weeks at Christmas/New Years, and a week off in March. However this year we are trying to be more relaxed/ child led/ project based as the older children (13 and 10) have requested it. The younger one(7) seems on board with it too- as long as she can keep doing Math U See(which she is). So my plan is to start counting school days next week, requiring atleast 3 school days a week (school days will consist of math, independent reading, and work on the project/interest of their choice). The projects must involve atleast 1 subject (English,Math, Science, Social Studies/History, Foreign Language) and the idea must be presented to me the week before it begins. Obviously this is more for my older 2, the youngest chooses an interest we will work around. For their first projects/ interests- 13 yo: wants to create a scrapbook of sorts focusing on geography, environment,language and culture of countries around the world in the form of travel plans. I suspect this whole project will take a good portion of the year but her first country will be Brazil, due to the current Olympics. 10 yo: wants to create a book of orginal poetry and illustrations with a wide variety of genres. 7 yo: Her current interest is penguins. So we will be reading lots of books about penguins, learning about their habitat and their anatomy and creating penguin art.

  4. At first we did a more traditional schedule (#2) but my youngest has autism and other medical needs and thrives on routine. So now we school 4 days a week, every week, taking 3 days at Thanksgiving and about a week at Christmas as well as birthdays. Fridays are spent at speech therapy, the psychologist(every other week) and OT. We try to schedule any other appointments (doctors, dentist, haircuts) on that day as well. My daughter often takes a few weeks off in the summer to participate in summer camps.

  5. I usually schedule from June-May. In the summer, we school a bit in the morning and then swim in the afternoon. If it’s raining and we don’t have plans, we do more. If it’s sunny or we are meeting up with friends, we do less. We end up taking 4 weeks off for various activities in the summer as well – although it’s been more this year. We take a few weeks for Christmas and 2-4 weeks for a winter vacation. We aren’t required to keep track of days, so I figure that as long as we are advancing reasonably well, it’s fine. I guess that puts me as option 10. 🙂

  6. This is a great overview of the flexibility we have! I’ve decided to organize seasonally, with three-month quarters. We will definitely go year-round. In my state we have reviews so I mainly have to make sure I’m covered for that. For me the planning is pretty loose and the documentation of what we actually did is more concrete! I’m planning to write a post on planning… soon 🙂

  7. Our school year is fairly customized. We usually start in late July or early August and go through May, taking days off as we want to. But they are scheduled days off like birthdays or play dates. We don’t just wake up and decide not to do school. 🙂 Oh, and we take days off when my husband doesn’t work and when family comes to visit.

  8. Our family uses a year-round approach now because it most closely resembles how things are in our lives. We only do school a few days a week and we’re always done before noon. However, we also take off tons of days in the spring and fall when the kids can play outside a lot. We don’t want to miss the fun! Taking a break from Thanksgiving til New Year’s seems to work for us too. I’m just not that motivated to school in December. Which type of schedule do your kids like best, Kris?

  9. We do our “summer break” in the month of April due to the awful heat as we live in the desert! I love having that part of the year off to enjoy the nice weather. It gives us opportunities to really enjoy hiking and family picnics. We like to have Bible study under a tree whenever possible.
    @Amy I am also not king on home school Decembers! Ughh, it seems to be such a hustle and bustle… Thank goodness for online shopping during the holidays. My kids are older now though and I’ve run the idea by them to get away from the commercialized Christmas experience, focus more on the true reason behind the birth of Jesus, and move on with either an outing (a short trip during holiday), or one major item. They prefer the idea of having an outing. Yay!
    I have a question I’d like to ask my fellow home school moms about: Do any of you have non-profits? I was thinking that this would benefit us so as to raise funds for our supplies (especially tech and STEM items). At the same time, supplying home school literature, curriculum links, resources etc… online.

  10. I am a mom of 5 boys ages 13,11,10,5,and 3. My only girl is 1year. I am struggeling with planning our homeschooling schedule for a few reasons! Number one. My husband has Mondays and Wednesdays off instead of weekends. I am struggeling with weather to take these days off from studying to have family time or make it a study day! Why? well, it seems that my husband has too much stuff he desires to do or needs to do instead of family interactions, unless it involves eating out of course! If he is not waxing a car, doing laundry or taking trash to the dump, he’s outside or on his phone, really void from doing family activities. Should we just make this a school day anyway? Also, my kids attend a public school with me that sees the parent as the primary educator. We attend amazing classes. My 13 year old son has voluntarily chosen to take ballet and loves archery! My 11 year old really loves woodworking and make and play banjo, The last is my 9 year old who loves science and is taking 3 science classes! They each take take 5-7 classes at school a week. I have been laxed about forcing them to practice their things at home for progress. They gripe too much when I say, time to practice your instrument or any other onsite homework. I dont see tge teachers reinforcing homework or practice at home. The kids say, well the other kid ds dont practice they just check off days they did when they didnt. I am caught up in the same thing! Guilty oh yes! I am not a firm believer in homeschooling that makes your kids feel like pushing away but there should be practice of a subject in order to advance! I had to do alot of homework and practice when I attended public school for 12 years plus. I may not of liked it then but because of all the practice in say, math, I am able to recall and teach my oldest son algebra after 13 years of being out of school, and that makes makes me feel good. If I said to the boys go practice car racing on the xbox they would bolt up the stairs and hop to it! So, back to the point. I need help getting kids to practice- incentive Ideas that work for boys to encourage them to not need to talk me into faking a practice log, just to save from my own embarrasement of the truth! Secondly, which days should truly be our homeschooling days. The week follows now as this. Monday husbands day off, Tuesday-pub. school from 10-4 with too much extra time in between classes and too noisy for concentration to study offsite homework and 2 hour total drive time to get there.Wednesday- my husbands day off and I run errands with less kids and pick up the house from the week. Thursday school pub. school 10-4 another 2 hours drive time. Friday pub. school 10-4 2 hour drive. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, most of the time home by 5:30 pm and too tired to study with the boys after getting dinner for my kids, cleaning up the house, babysitting my now one year old girl who is climbing stairs now, yikes! My 3 and 5 year old boys tugging at my skirt to play with them hotwheels cars. Saturday is open day where we just go with the flow! Sunday is church, library, and walk or shop with one older kid amd 3 littles. I have been suffering with organizing all of this and I could use lots of help! Most help on the internet asks for money. With this many kids, I dont have it! Sorry this post was so long. I felt it detrimental to the understanding of my predicament!! Any suggestions are welcome, thankyou!!!!

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