How to Plan Now for Year Round Homeschooling

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I know most of you have just finished the last school year and haven’t even fully immersed yourself in summer vacation yet. For that matter, many of you may still be working to wrap up your school year. However, I often have people ask me about year round homeschooling and, well, now is the time to start planning for it if you’re not already year round homeschoolers.

Year Round Homeschooling

I should probably first offer the disclaimer that although we’ve successfully homeschooled year round for several years now and love it and often sing the praises of the benefits of year-round homeschooling, for the first time in many years, my kids have already started talking about wanting a longer summer break this year.

Because they are both working independently now, I told them both that I would work up some schedule ideas to make that happen. (Because if they still needed my daily involvement, there would be no way I’d be willing to give up my week break every six weeks! We’ll see if they’re really willing to give up theirs.)

Regardless of what we end up doing next year, I want to offer you my tried-and-true tips on how to plan for year-round homeschooling.

Figure out the schedule

Year round schooling with a six weeks on/one week off schedule typically involves starting school by mid-July, depending on how long you want to take for Christmas break. We like to take off from Thanksgiving until New Year’s so that we can enjoy the holiday season without the added stress of trying to keep up with a full course load of schoolwork.

For some families, that would be entirely too much time off. For me, the simplest method of figuring out our start time is to count backward from Thanksgiving. We need to complete three six-week school sessions before Thanksgiving, and we take one week in between each. That generally means we start the Monday after the July 4th holiday.

If you want a shorter Christmas break, you’ve got a couple of extra weeks to play with in July.

Consider your summer plans

One question that people always have about year round schooling is how to make it mesh with summer activities. I’ll be honest – that was what kept me from trying year-round school for so many years. My husband’s birthday is in mid-July, and he usually takes the week off. Our local curriculum fair is typically the 3rd week in July which meant I’d need time off from school, plus we might not have all our curriculum for the year earlier in the month.

I finally decided just to jump into year-round homeschooling the summer after we began using Trail Guide to Learning. We started mid-year, so we still had half the year’s curriculum ready to go in July. The bulk of the kid’s summer activities were in June, and we didn’t actually do anything (such as vacation) on Brian’s week off in July. He liked just hanging around the house relaxing.

Deciding to take the leap into year-round schooling was one of the best things we ever did for our homeschool. I know it can be tricky for many families, though, so my suggestions would be:

  • Do light schooling in July. Work the basics, such as math, reading, and writing, around your remaining summer activities.
  • Consider if your kids’ summer activities can count toward their educational requirements for the year. Josh is going to be taking a driver’s education course one week in July from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. He’s definitely getting credit for that. Maybe your kids’ drama or art camp can count as part of their fine arts credit. Perhaps their sports camp can provide P.E. credit for the summer months.
  • Have make-up days. If you already work on a 4-day schedule for your core classes with a built-in catch-up or enrichment day, you may be able to work around summer activities. You could also make up a little bit here and there on the weekends or your week off, doing a light week instead of a week completely off.
  • Skip the first week off. Last year, when July was packed with extra activities for the kids, we worked through our first break week. We missed it, but it was worth it to all of us for the kids to be able to do their summer activities.

If you really want to do year round schooling, don’t let a busy summer schedule hold you back from giving it a try. There are still ways to make it work.

How to Plan Now for Year Round Homeschooling

Psych up the kids

The trickiest part of our first year of year round schooling was convincing the kids (and myself) that starting school in mid-July wasn’t the worst idea ever. After all, we’d just finished a more typical school year that did not involve a week break every six weeks and we were tired. That was a hard sell that first year, so be prepared to really talk up the concept to your kids.

Focus on how nice it’s going to be to have a more flexible schedule with more frequent breaks and, if applicable, a long Christmas break. Let them know that you can still keep some afternoons free for swimming or keep some mornings open for cheap summer movies or park dates with friends. It helped to assure my kids that we would still make plans with friends at least one or two afternoons a week.

It also helped to point out that in our area it’s so hot in July we might as well be inside doing school in air conditioned comfort and save our time off for the cooler days of fall.

So, go ahead. I know it’s still early June, but print off some school year calendars and start penciling in some ideas for a year-round school schedule. It doesn’t have to be six weeks on/one week off. There are many ways to get in your state’s required days or hours. Find a schedule that works for your family and give year round schooling a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

Do you school year round? What’s your family’s preferred schedule? If you don’t school year round, what are your hesitations? (“I want a 3-month summer break” counts. {grin})

This post is linked to 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 type of year round schooling. We have 200 school days and school for 50 then have a 2 week break. Breaking our school into days rather than weeks works with our relaxed schedule where we may only have 3 or 4 days of school each week one week and 6 days the next. After all 200 days we take 3 weeks off including a 4 or 5 day vacation before starting again. We finished June 1st and will start again on the 29th with a 5 year old, 8 year old and 11 year old-so already reading kindergartener, a 3rd grader and a 6th grader.

    1. I think that’s really the key – working the schedule out in a way that makes sense for your family. That allows you to enjoy the flexibility that homeschooling offers, while maintaining accountability to get in the days you need to. Great idea!

  2. We started year-round homeschool last year 2013-2014 and it has been absolutely incredible since then. We have a long Christmas break (6 weeks) that starts the week of Thanksgiving and we start back the Monday after New Year’s Day. The kids LOVED it. We take 6 to 7 weeks for summer and start back the Monday after my daughter’s birthday July 11th. Each child gets a three-day break for their birthday. We also take a spring break. It gives us time for “free days” or “we just need a break” days. There aren’t many, but at least we have the time when we need it. In July, we work on reviewing concepts to make sure they have them down so we can go on to the next level.

    It has been such a blessing. I wish we had started with year-round schooling from the beginning. Thanks to you, we discovered how great of an idea it is. Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us who read your blog.

    1. I love that, Bethanie! That’s such a great idea to use July for reviewing and nailing down concepts. I always tell people that summer is a great time to shore up any weaknesses before the upcoming year, but that’s a great idea to build that right into your school year!

  3. This will be our first year schooling year round, and I for one am looking forward to it! We will take off the months of July and December and have a one week break every 6 weeks. And you are right, where we live in middle Georgia, it is too dang hot in July anyway, so we may as well be inside doing school work. 😉

    1. I bet you’re going to love it. It was truly a sanity saver for us – or, at least, me. It helped alleviate that feeling of burnout I used to feel every winter, too. I wish we’d done year round schooling from the beginning.

  4. This is our first year doing year round. It started mostly out of necessity from this difficult pregnancy but also because I wanted to be able to include more fun and free learning that wasn’t just from our text books. I found that by stretching out lessons it gave us all more freedom to really explore topics without the pressure of needing to finish the books before summer, and more time to do other activities. The continued phonics, reading and spelling lessons really help my young readers as well. I plan to take off 2-3 weeks once baby is born as well as all of December. We’ll do a week of Easter break and probably days here and there when we need a break. The kids and I are just really enjoying the fun and freedom it’s brought so far.

  5. Great tips! Due to the Arizona heat, I think that our homeschooling will take place over the summer with the winters off. Better weather. 🙂

  6. This is our first year homeschooling but this is our plan. Year round just makes sense for our family’s needs. My boys were in public school previously and we always supplemented their education during breaks…ESPECIALLY during the summer. So they are used to having schoolwork to do during summer plus we are so used to having some kind of schedule too long of a break would drive me bonkers.
    So we started the Monday after 4th of July and we’ll do six weeks on, one week off. We will also take off three weeks in January (winter break) to cover New Years and my two youngest children’s birthdays (the 8th and the 17th) and take two or three weeks for summer break at the end of June. The other off weeks cover birthdays and everything else perfectly so no need to adjust those. I have a feeling I am going to love this schedule.

  7. I’m not homeschooling yet, my son is only 4, but I’m interested in year round homeschooling when he’s 6. My question is, how many days of “school” should there be? I understand to figure out when you’d like to start and end. Then with 365 days a year, subtract the weekends. Then for those who prefer 4 day teaching weeks, subtract Fridays. Next is the holidays. Then after that how do you figure out how much is too much/too little? Also, is it ok if you don’t choose the 6 weeks on , 1 week off schedule? If my son amd I are willing to move forward I’d prefer to use that time as an extra vacation at the end if the year. Do I make any sense? Lol

    1. How many days of school there should be often depends on your state’s homeschool laws. In Georgia, it’s 180 days per school year. Within that frame, you can structure your schedule however you like and with whatever rotation works best for your family. That’s the beauty of homeschooling!

  8. I am a first time homeschool mom. I would like to use an alternating 4 day schedule that works with my husbands off days. Following my association guide lines, I will have to have 180 days and last day to turn in grades/attendance is May 21. Thinking 45 weeks with 3 weeks vacation split between holidays, leaving a 4 week summer break. We would end up with school starting in the last week of July, if I figured it right. Does that sound doable? Im a South Carolina Mom too 🙂

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