If you're just joining me for the 10 Days to a Flexible Homeschool Plan series, then be sure to read the previous posts:
Yesterday we talked about planning for change and how having a plan can provide more freedom and less stress.
Today, I will show you how I determine our school year and how putting this on paper provides yet another level of freedom and flexibility to our year.
Year-Round School = Maximum Flexibility
The first time I heard the idea of year-round homeschooling I cringed. Who the heck wants to do school 52 weeks per year?
Not me! (Pretty sure my kids would high five me on that one)
The truth is, I didn't really understand what it was or how it would set us up for amazing flexibility during our year.
So what is year-round homeschooling?
Basically, it just means being open to "do school" anytime during the year, including those three months typically reserved for "summer break."
Once I understood what it really was I took full advantage of all the idea has to offer.
We live in the South where summers are hot and muggy and miserable, not to mention the mosquitoes. They're everywhere! Most days in July and August are unfit for man nor beast! I prefer to remain indoors where the air conditioning is, and so do my kids. What better time to tackle school work? Daddy is at work, it's too hot to breathe outside, and there's not much else constructive to do.
On the other hand, fall and spring in the South are glorious! Because we complete several weeks of school during those two miserable months in the summer we can take days off during these more mild seasons and have fun outings.
It didn't take long for me to realize that year-round homeschooling meant we had more flexibility in our year to enjoy holidays, vacations, field trips, brain breaks, or anything unexpected that might pop up.
Create Your Calendar
That's all well and good, you say, but how do we go about actually creating a calendar for our school year?
Let's break it down - and if you're a more visual learner you can scroll down to the video instructions below. But first, here's a free printable yearly calendar you can use.
Step 1: Choose your start date.
There's no right or wrong way to do this. You'll just choose the date that you want to begin your school year. Highlight it, circle it, mark it however you'd like on your calendar.
We always start on the Monday after July 4th.
Step 2: How many days are required?
Check the laws in your state to determine how many days you are required to "school." Write the number down somewhere on the calendar so you'll have it close by.
In our state, we complete 180 days.
Step 3: Decide how you want to break up your year.
Public schools (at least in my state) mostly use a 9-week schedule with two 9-week terms per semester. Think about how you'd like to break up your year and write that down as well.
I use 6-week terms for our year. We school for 6 weeks and then take off one week, except in the winter when we just school straight through because it's too cold to do anything else!
Step 4: Set holidays, vacations, breaks, etc.
Take a minute to think about and jot down the holidays your family observes, vacations you'll likely take, etc. Go through your calendar and mark all of those dates.
On our calendar, I mark our break weeks as well as holidays and birthday that aren't part of our regular breaks.
Step 5: Set your end date.
If you're required to have a certain number of school days then begin counting on your start date, skip all the days off that you've marked, and stop when you reach the required number. Circle that date.
That's it! You've just created your school year calendar. The beauty of this calendar is that there is built in flexibility!
This school year is scheduled to end on April 30th. The likelihood that we'll actually finish school on that date is slim to none. In fact, we've never finished a school year on its scheduled end date. Something always happens to push that date ahead.
If I'm sick, or one of the kids, and we don't feel up to schoolwork for three days, no problem. I mark those three days as time off and push our end date out three days.
You can do that for anything that comes up that keeps you from school work, no matter what it is.
Here's a video walkthrough of how I determine our school year.
Don't forget to grab your free printable yearly calendar if you need it.
Join me again tomorrow when I'll show you how to find a routine for your day that provides both structure and flexibility.