How to Create A Year Round Homeschool Schedule
So, you’ve decided to try year round homeschooling. This is a great decision! I applaud you for taking control of your schedule and not letting it control you. Intentionally telling your calendar who’s boss, will help you get back some time so it doesn’t just flow like water through your fingers. So grab a cup of coffee, tea, water, and let’s schedule our year together!
You may be asking yourself all the questions right now:
How do I schedule my homeschool year?
How many hours a day is recommended for homeschooling?
What should a year round homeschool schedule look like?
Don’t worry! I have all of your scheduling questions answered right here! I also have some printables just for you.
Benefits of a Year Round Homeschool Schedule
All families are different. What works for me, may not work for you. However, I have been homeschooling for so long–21 years now–I’ve gone through many seasons and life crises.
Those inconveniences have taught me a lot about homeschooling, especially when it comes to scheduling. Our year round homeschool routine has definitely helped keep us on track more times than I can count. I have been very thankful to have margin built into my life in this way.
Homeschooling year round is a blessing and can free you up in more ways than you may think!
There is a rhythm created here, a year round heartbeat that keeps our school alive, moving. I prefer rhythms and routines to strict time schedules, although it hasn’t always been this way.
I’ve finally found a balance between them and this is one aspect that moves us through our time together.
Some of my favorite reasons for this type of year round homeschool calendar are:
I love that I can take almost an entire month off in the spring to plant my garden.
We also take off time right before our county fair to get ready.
Vacations can happen without the stress that school isn’t getting done and if something unexpected comes up, like a crisis or illness, the schedule flexes with us. I can push back our off time, add another week to our school time, shorten it–anything I want based on what life is throwing at me.
This schedule helps us in more ways than I can count! And my kids haven’t minded as much as they thought they would.
Read more about making this all work:
Types of Year Round Homeschool Schedules
Six Weeks On, Three Weeks Off
For our family, doing a 6 week on and 3 week off homeschool schedule has been the best. It is flexible enough that we can do life outside of school, yet firm enough that we get things done and I am held accountable.
I don’t know about you, but I need that.
Of course, you don’t have to use this type of framework for your year round schedule. You can try other ideas, such as:
- 6 weeks on, 1 week off
- 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off
- 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off
- 3 months on, 2 weeks off
These are the most common types I have found. You have complete freedom to make your schedule however it works best for your family.
That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
Try them all and see which one you like the best. I am going to keep referring to what I know best and teach you how to do it. Take what I’m offering here and adjust it to meet your own scheduling needs.
Making Your Year Round Homeschool Calendar
Step 1: When do you want to start?
You can “start” your school year whenever you would like. Some homeschoolers start in January, some after labor Day. You can choose what’s best for you.
But picking a starting date is important because you will use that date to create the rest of your homeschool schedule. It may sound counterintuitive to have a start date for a year round schedule, but for your own administrative purposes, it makes things easier to have a date in mind to begin.
We start school very early, usually right after fair, or the second week in August. Starting school actually works for us well here. We may not start until Wednesday that week, giving us a few days to rest after fair, but we start that week.
We’re always so relieved to have a huge chunk of the school year done before the holidays invade into our school time and I never feel like we have to rush at the end of the year to get it all in.
Once you have your start date, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Fill in all holidays and breaks
The first thing I do is find a calendar that shows me the entire year at a glance. You can use your computer calendar or a printable. I prefer a printable because I’m going to highlight and write on it.
But you can use a Google calendar or whatever works for you.
Starting with an overview of the entire year is the easiest way I’ve found to get started.
With your calendar in front of you, go through the entire year, all 12 months, and fill in any holidays, breaks, or other instances where you know you will not be able to do school.
Here are my dates:
- Last week of July-first week of August is our county fair.
- Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year
- Basketball tournament at the beginning of March
- Travel dates for my husband
Go through all of these dates and decide how long you want to break for.
Do you want to take 2 weeks at Christmas? Are there any family vacations coming up? When do you want to take a vacation and for how long?
Asking yourself these questions will help to solidify your plans when you start working through your calendar.
Other things to think about are more hidden questions. Examples of these are:
- Am I cooking/hosting thanksgiving? Do I need extra time because of this?
- How many days do I need for traveling, not just for the actual vacation or holiday?
- Will I want to do school in the car or while we’re on vacation?
- How many days will I need afterward to recover, clean house, put away decorations?
Other possible school conflicts that you would know in advance, could be:
Do you always go to your mom’s during the summer for several days? Do you have a conflict that occurs yearly that takes you away from school?
An example of this for our family is our county fair. It’s a big deal for us and we spend pretty much an entire month preparing for it.
Are you expecting a baby? Do you have an older child getting married? Are you moving?
Go through and look at your year and find all of the major holidays, life experiences, and other conflicts that you know are going to make it next to impossible to get school done.
Spend the time now to really think through these questions and be realistic with yourself. It’s better to take an extra day off of school than to be stressed and crabby. Ask me how I know! 🙂
Step 3: Start Counting Weeks
Our fair starts in late July/early August and I know I want to take off most of July to prepare for it. So I’m going to start my school year the week after fair.
To stick with our 6 weeks on, 3 weeks off, I’m going to count 6 weeks from Aug 3 (our fair ends Aug 2nd), which puts us at September 7.
Labor Day doesn’t mean much to us in terms of vacationing, but if it does for you, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
So the WEEK of Sept 7 will be our last week of school and our break will start on Sept 14, the following Monday.
I will then count 3 weeks from Sept 14, which brings us to Sept 28th as our last week of break, making Oct 5th our first day of school. Just continue this until you get to the holidays.
The holidays can be tricky. You’ve got Thanksgiving and Christmas, both major holidays, within a month of each other. Not enough time to have a full 6 weeks of school in between.
We do just 2-3 weeks of school, take a shorter break at Thanksgiving and only 2 weeks at Christmas. This helps me to move through the holiday season.
But since I started so early, I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing school and we can enjoy the holidays without the added stress of getting school done. It’s getting done during the school weeks.
Again, your situation is going to be different than mine. But since we’ve already figured out when you’re leaving for Christmas, when family is coming, or at least have a rough idea based on past experiences, this is going to be easy peasy!
This is also where the flexibility of year round homeschooling comes into play. I love that I can extend our school time to 7 weeks, shorten it to 5 weeks, extend the break, or whatever I want to do to make it through the holiday season peacefully and productively.
If this sounds confusing, I have a printable already planned out for you! You can either use this for your own homeschool, or just as a reference.
Once you get through the holiday planning, the rest is pretty easy unless you have other conflicts. For us, I just do a regular 6 weeks on, 3 weeks off.
I make sure I have some time in April to get my garden in. But January to July is pretty much extreme focus on school and our year round school schedule helps us all work hard when we need to, yet with breaks built-in so we don’t get burnt out.
Last year we took a spring break early in March when it coincided with my college daughter’s spring break time.
This year we have no vacations, but our 3 week break fell at the end of February and into March, which is burnout time for homeschoolers, and it was a nice relief to not have those emotions to deal with.
We were taking a guilt-free break!
Read more about homeschooling in the summer
Step 4: Put it on your homeschool calendar
Once you have all of your dates figured out, it’s time to write them all on your calendar, planner or however you keep track of your life.
I use a Happy Planner for general life appointments and such. I write my break and school start dates on my Happy Planner calendar. I don’t use a separate homeschool calendar, but I used to. I kept it in my teacher binder with my other important homeschooling paperwork.
However you keep track of life, write out your year long homeschool schedule on your calendar.
I just write the day we start break and the day we start school.
This will help you keep track of how many weeks are left, how much time you have, how long your break is and can help to motivate you to buckle down and get school done.
Balancing Homeschool and Life
I would like to remind you about balance here.
I talk a lot about being intentional, working your system, how kids don’t learn by osmosis and how to make any system work. When you write something on your calendar, it’s set in plaster.
Not concrete, but plaster.
It’s ok to be flexible, it’s OK to have things come up and have to reschedule your appointments, dates and school.
However, if you find yourself always pushing school to the side, you need to rework your priorities. School should be number one and it’s OK to say no to things to protect that time.
So by writing your school schedule on your calendar, it’s set firmly in plaster, but not so firmly (like concrete) that it can’t be changed when absolutely necessary.
I overplanned my days at one point in my homeschooling career, and my kids were miserable, they weren’t learning and it was rough. I finally learned to say no, set some boundaries and things got better.
Even though I’m down to one child now, I still fiercely protect my homeschooling time, saying no to almost anything that comes up during that time.
However, since it’s set in plaster and can be changed, it’s perfectly fine to change things if needed. Not forgetting the 3 weeks you’ll be taking off all year round, if school absolutely has to be sacrificed for something else, being flexible is part of being human.
Life throws us crazy events and needing to move our schedules around becomes necessary from time to time. Just be careful not to make it a habit.
An example of this that came up recently for us:
My daughter has been showing some interest in working out at the YMCA. She’s 12 and even though she’s in sports, she doesn’t want to go to the Y unless it’s to swim. Our family is an active family, so it was a matter of time before she wanted to do this. The rule at our gym is that she has to take a class in order to be able to work out on the gym equipment. All of my kids took this class at her age, so it’s just something we need to do. All of the times they offered were very inconvienct for us except a week long class in the morning. It was our second week back to school from being on our break and I really didn’t want to give up school that week, but nothing else would work. We don’t do school in the afternoons. This class was important. So I switched our schedule around and made it work.
Our schedule then looked like this:
3 week break as normally scheduled
1 week school
1 week break (for the class)
4 weeks school–only doing 4 here instead of 5 because it’s spring and I need to get my garden in.
So being flexible is just as important as developing a routine and structure. But don’t sacrifice your structure to be flexible. It’s all about balance.
Want to hear more about this concept? I talk about this over on TikTok!
The Glorious 3 Week Break
As much as I love teaching my children, lighting up the bulbs for them, exposing them to new ideas, shaping and curating their experiences, I equally love our 3 week break time.
This is when we do everything we can’t get to during school. We are a non-stop family. Between all of the appointments for my special needs kids, activities and school, I have no time for the house or other parts of our life. I do most of this during our break time.
I have 3 full weeks of absolutely nothing to do but get things done that normally get neglected and it is such a glorious feeling for the Type A in me!
Depending on the time of year, I will do things such as:
- Go Christmas shopping
- Plan meals
- Plan school, buy curriculum, read up on current literature pertaining to my children’s education
- Clean out closets, change over seasonal clothes, take things to donate
- Get ready for fair, gather supplies, plan meals for fair
- Get ready for baby chicks, goat kids, other animal things, clean the barn
- Plan and plant my garden, canning, freezing
Sometimes I will just take a day for me and do nothing, go shopping, spoil myself. But I can do it guilt-free because I know nothing is being sacrificed for me to have that time.
We need to make sure we’re taking time for ourselves. It’s not selfish, it’s a gift to our family. We can come back refreshed and ready to be all we need to be.
The 3 week break in your homeschool, also gives your kids to this time. They can also work on things they normally might not have the opportunity for.
Some of these include:
- hanging out with friends
- working on 4H projects
- working longer hours at their job for more money
- cleaning their bedroom, painting, reorganizing
- catching up on homesteading duties
- playing with the animals or any babies we may have
- reading a book for fun instead of for school
There are so many things you can do with a 3 week break from homeschool!
It goes by very fast for me, though. I do have a general plan of what I want to get done during that time, so it’s not all wasted with feeling overwhelmed.
I just write it on a sticky note and put it on my calendar. Sometimes I’ll write down each day what I want to accomplish to help keep me focused.
Here’s a cute checklist you can use!
One thing I would like to remind you of, is to not forget about your structure during the break time.
This is not a free-for-all.
If you completely scrap your routines, it will be much harder to get back into things when it’s time.
I don’t let my older kids sleep in all that much. Maybe an extra hour, but they would sleep until noon. No.
Also, we still have a homestead to run and the animals need to eat, so that helps keep us structured, too. The kids are still expected to do chores, inside and out, during this time.
We also keep the same lunch time and supper time, even if it’s flexed a bit. For example, if we are gardening and need to finish up first, we’ll eat lunch at 1 pm instead of noon. But we won’t eat lunch at 3 pm, or a time that’s way off of our normal routine.
Bedtime is the same, any naptime is the same.
Keeping your general structure in place is very important to your kids, especially when they’re younger. You worked hard to develop all of your systems, routines and now this year round homeschooling calendar, so stick with it.
You can do this!
Momma, I hope this helps you in some way. The homeschooling days can be hard, but as I see the end coming into view, I am reminded of my life spent doing this and how it is worth any stress it may cause.
The babies don’t stay babies for long and we all come to the last day of this journey.
I hope you and I can look back on these days with fondness because we got a hold of our homeschool schedule and didn’t let it rob us of memories or precious time.
Please remember that we are all different. You have to find your rhythm, your balance, for your family. I’m just here to give some ideas and cheer you on. I know without older and wiser homeschool moms in my early years encouraging me, I might not have kept going.
That’s what I hope to do for you here, in this space on the web.
Thank you for spending time here with me.
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