Monday, June 27, 2016

How to schedule your homeschool year

Yeah, that title makes it look as though I know what I'm doing, and after 18 years, you would think I did, huh? I've done different things over the years, but much of it involved doing a more traditional nine month school schedule with the summer months off. Well, actually, what I planned was a nine month traditional schedule with a very light schedule in the summer, thinking if we didn't quit completely those first few days back wouldn't be quite so torturous. What really happens is that the "lighter" schedule last all of a few days and then we totally let things slide and fully embrace a non-academic summer.

This schedule isn't bad, and I know that the children and I can use the mental break, but here is what has always bothered me about it. By the middle of summer, the idea of completely structure-less days have lost their shine a bit and people could use a little mental stimulation. This usually happens long about the time I am knee deep in books planning for the next school year and so while I have the structure that I have been craving, there are feral children prowling around the edges of the book castle I have barricaded myself in.

It is a bit of a relief when our regular school schedule starts in again. For a while. We do great for a few weeks, but then everyone is kind of ready for a break long about the four or five week mark, but our schedule says to keep going. We do, but with less enthusiasm. Now, if you are homeschooling, it is true that it takes precedence over other things, say, keeping the house clean. We do pick-up, but that really heavy organizing and cleaning is put off. Thus by the time the actual break in the schedule happens, the house is in a rapidly declining state of disarray. This entropy does not help with anyone's enthusiasm about school, because, frankly, it's hard to think in the midst of chaos.

I have always thought that the perfect schedule would be four or five weeks on, with two weeks off. I don't know why I've never tried it. Yesterday, I counted and five weeks on, two weeks off still gives the legally required number of attendance days. (Though, since my children are learning all the time, even when they don't have a textbook open, I find the whole idea of a homeschool attendance day to be, shall we say fluid? at best and ludicrous at worst.) I might toy around with on and off weeks, particularly around the holidays, but it actually seems workable. I think we may actually try it this year.

As I think about it, it would give us one summer term, where we would finish the things from last year. The first half of 2016 was not calm and peaceful, and sometimes school was put on the back burner in favor of mental health. There are still some things I'd like to cover before we move on. Then we would have a break right around the time when others would be going back to school and be able to take advantage of the empty museums and beautiful weather. September in Chicago is possibly the very best weather month in the entire year. I might even play around a bit with the five/two ratio and change it each time. This would be for more me, as I seem to tire easily of routine.

So, that's the plan for now, I'll keep you updated as to how it goes. Plus, I get to play with stacks of books sooner. I like books. I like making schedules. It's my own little geeky version of summertime fun.

1 comment:

Donna said...

I have felt that same agony of the long school terms, and somehow we always lost momentum way earlier than we needed to. So two years ago I came up with a 6 week on, 1 week off schedule, with a longer break at Christmas. Eureka! Six weeks was long enough to really make headway, but that week of kept everyone motivated because it was easy to see the weeks tick down. We still got sidetracked now and then, but kept at it for the most part and it was the first year that school actually ended at the planned time (instead of mid-August because we were so far behind). Good luck!

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