Planning! Now that I’ve done this for a few years. It has become one of my favorite tasks.
Let me interject. This is something that helps me to keep us on track. I know there are some Mamas who use a tally sheet to keep track of school days and that works for them. I am not that Mama. I need a concrete plan. This is how I make that plan.
I’ll warn you that it can be a bit tedious, but stick with me.
First, get a calendar. Figure out which days you want to use as holidays, special family days, or vacation days – mark those out.
Next, decide if you want to follow a traditional school calendar, or if you will follow a year-round schedule. If you are going for a traditional schedule, go ahead and mark off the months you will not be doing school. If you do year-round, mark off weeks that you know you want to take off.
I know that we will continue our year-round schedule. For the most part our schedule is 4 weeks on, 1 week off, with longer breaks at Christmas and in the summer for church camp and scout camp.
So this is when I start labeling weeks weeks.
My main curriculum choices (Sonlight and Math-U-See) have their material divided into 36 weeks. I know I have to plan for 36 weeks. If you have material that schedules things differently, or if it allows you to schedule it all. Figure out how you can divide your material to distribute it evenly over the year. Also, if your home school requirements include a certain number of school days be sure that you use that information to help build your calendar.
I keep track of the number of school days because I’m a nut. There is no stipulation in Texas that home schoolers have to school a certain number of days, but I feel better knowing I am doing at least the same number, if not more than, our local school district. Is that a requirement? Nope. Just me being OCD.
Another slightly OCD thing, I prefer to have at least half of our material finished before Christmas break. Sometimes, I will work backwards labeling weeks that we will do school, and weeks that we will take off until I get it distributed in a way that will work for us.
If I notice that we have too many consecutive weeks of school planned, I tweak it and move a break. I know that we do best when we school about 3 to 4 weeks and then have a week off.
Sometimes things get rearranged. This year, for example, we had a last minute opportunity to visit Hubby’s family out of state. We took off and enjoyed our week with no school. Once we returned home, I altered our September calendar to make up for our unexpected week off.
For the record, there is no perfect calendar. I use it as a guideline, not my master. It is a tool that helps to keep us on track for our yearly goals.
- We are in Texas. And I don’t know about you, but here, our summers get HOT. When the days are just plain oppressively hot, we can stay inside and do school. Then when we have those lovely fall and spring days, we can take off to enjoy the weather.
- We love people, but… We’d rather not vacation with all of them at the same time. We tend to take our family vacations in the fall and spring. This allows for better weather, and we rarely have to wait in line with the rest of the world.
- Year-round works very well with my husband’s schedule. He has certain commitments in which we are able to assist him. Because we can plan our school breaks for those times, it’s like added family time.
We have tried both calendars through the years. I have to say, I really love the freedom the year-round version offers us.