I’m a fan of year-round home education. After all, plenty of learning happens in homeschools even when the books are closed. To work better for my family’s needs and schedule, we decided to change our official academic calendar from the typical September through May school year to January through December.
NOTE: Hip Homeschool Moms offers FREE printable calendars for your non-traditional school year! You can get yours in the article The Benefits of Homeschooling Year Round. You’ll find calendars for school years beginning in January, July, and/or September.
Our basic schedule is:
- We start a new school year in early January and study for six weeks before taking a one-week hiatus in mid-February.
- Then we study for roughly six more weeks and take another week off in late March or early April, adjusting as necessary each year so our vacation week coincides with Easter.
- We take a third week off in mid-May and then study through the end of June before taking our summer vacation for the month of July.
- We start school again in early August and extend our study weeks to seven or eight in a row–taking a week off in late September.
- Then we begin school again in late September and take our next week off for Thanksgiving.
- After that, we study for a week or two more before breaking for most of December as our winter vacation. (In other words, we finish our school year in late November or early December and are done for the school year until our new school year begins in January.)
All in all, such a schedule amounts to about 190 official school days, though we log closer to 200 when counting field trips and other incidental educational activities that occur during our hiatus weeks and on some weekends. (Keep in mind that schools include field trip days as school days, so we also include them.)
This schedule works very well for my family for a variety of reasons.
- First, it motivates my children. I aim to make their bookwork as engaging as possible, but the fact remains that all kids enjoy free time. So when my daughters realize they get a vacation every six (or seven or eight) weeks, they more readily focus on their lessons.
- Second, having shorter vacations enhances learning and memory because they never take more than a few weeks at a time away from their formal academics.
- And third, it prevents boredom. Our longest hiatus is four or five weeks long, and for at least two of those weeks, my kids are occupied with church camp and our annual family lake vacation. They readily occupy their time during the remaining weeks and never reach the point of feeling they have “nothing to do.”
- Additionally, it eases my workload. I plan in six-week increments instead of feeling the need to organize a semester or even a whole year ahead of time – thus eliminating much of the potential for burnout.
- And, finally, it illustrates for my sphere of influence the truth that there is nothing sacred or magical about the typical public school calendar. In fact, the way things are done today is very different from public school calendars in earlier eras. So by being different, we demonstrate that today’s typical school calendar is simply one option, not “the way” to do things.
One beauty – among so many – in homeschooling is that each of us has the freedom to do what makes sense for our particular family. When the “norm” is not our preference, we can do something different. We can go against the flow.
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