A lot of homeschooling parents are fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of folks. I guess I am, too – to an extent. When it comes to planning our school year, though, I am very much a planner.
Our state requires that we include 180 days of school in our school year. I like to have those 180 days mapped out so that I know what our school year is going to look like. I like to know when we’re doing school and when we’re taking off.
That doesn’t mean that I’m inflexible. Our calendar isn’t set in stone by any means, but mapping out our school year at the beginning of the year helps me to plan.
My older daughter is using Switched on Schoolhouse. I like to use their auto-assign feature. In order to do that, I have to plug in our school calendar at the beginning of the year.
Also, I like to make sure that we’re always giving ourselves room to finish school by the end of May – when Brianna’s birthday occurs. She likes being off school by her birthday – and I do, too, since mine is less than two weeks later. (For the record, the other kids’ birthdays are school holidays, too. Since Josh’s birthday is in December, we usually try to wrap up for Christmas break by his birthday.)
I like to use the school calendars on Donna Young’s site. I usually start by marking off my ideal school year. Then, I add up the days to see how close I am to 180. I usually wind up having to add 5-10 days. Once I figure out the best places to take a few less days off, I’m set for the year.
The upcoming school year will probably be a bit different. I’ve thought about year ‘round schooling before, but I never could quite work out all the details with holidays, summer birthdays, and our local homeschool convention’s late-summer schedule.
However, we’re using Trail Guide to Learning now and it is set up as six six-week units – perfect for a six-weeks-on-one-week-off schedule, with long breaks for summer and Christmas. I fully expected balking from the kids when I said the words “year ‘round schooling,” but all three of them have actually said that they like the sound of our proposed schedule.
Does that mean I won’t worry about a calendar this year? Nope! I’ve already been looking at the calendar, as a matter of fact – trying to figure out when we need to start to ensure the Christmas break lands where we want it to. I think I’ve got it figured out. I’m excited about this new possibility.
My suggestions for effectively planning your school year calendar include:
- Know how many school days are required by your state’s homeschool laws
- Mark off days that you know will not be school days – birthdays, holidays, family vacations
- Consider when you’ll want breaks – The middle of February tends to be a huge slump time for homeschoolers and public schools, alike. We took a four-day weekend in mid-February this year and that really helped alleviate a lot of the burn-out we’ve felt in the past.
- Leave yourself some wiggle room – On the forms that I have to file with our county school superintendent, I declare our school year from August 1 of one year to July 31 of the following year even though I always plan to be finished by the third week in May. That leaves me some catch-up room if we need it.
Do you plan your school year in advance? What tips would you add?