Finding a yearly homeschool schedule that works for our family required some trial and error, a little tweaking, and thinking outside the box. We spent the first couple of years of our homeschool journey trying different methods to schedule our school year until we found a way that incorporated the advantages of different types of schedules and minimized the disadvantages. You can read more about that journey here.
A New School Year
We start each new school year on a Monday in mid-August, right around the time the local public schools begin theirs. This marks a new school year and a new grade level. We begin with new curriculum, and new school supplies. We make the first day back to school exciting–complete with a new outfit, pictures and a special breakfast. We will do school five days a week, Monday through Friday, for about six weeks.
Our first school break takes place in late September or early October, in which we will take a full week off. We typically enjoy a family beach vacation during this week, taking advantage of off-peak season crowds, rates and great weather. When we return we resume our five days a week schedule until Thanksgiving, approximately seven weeks away.
For the week of Thanksgiving we take a full week off. This gives us time to shop, bake, relax and prepare for the holiday. We resume school the following week for three weeks, until our Christmas break begins. Depending on when Christmas falls, we typically have a full week off before the week of Christmas for holiday fun and preparations. Our Christmas break lasts for three full weeks.
A New Year
We resume our school year about a week after the New Year, on a Monday. This marks the beginning of our second semester which means we are about half-way through our traditional school year. We school five days a week for about six weeks. So far, our school year looks fairly traditional, but with a few more days off.
We take a week long winter break about mid-way through February. I have learned through experience that this is hands-down the most difficult time of the school year. It’s cold, it gets dark early, the holidays are over, and we still have a long way to go before the end of the year (or a holiday for that matter). Homeschool burnout is common during this time of year and planning a break is one way to anticipate it and combat it. I try to use this week to relax, do something fun with the kids, and just get away from the books and routine. I have found that our 100th day of school falls right around this time, and if I plan it just right we can kick off our winter break with a 100 day celebration and a fun field trip.
The Easter holiday typically falls about six to eight weeks after our winter break, and I try to plan our spring break week around this time. Depending on exactly when the holiday is, I will plan spring break the week leading up to or the week immediately after Easter. We also take a week off for another family vacation in late spring for a get-a-way, again, enjoying off season rates, crowds, and weather!
Last Day of School
I like to have a celebratory last day of school each year to officially ‘promote’ my kids up to their next grade level. Our last day of school is usually the week prior to Memorial Day, but could be earlier depending on when we take our spring family vacation. Memorial Day marks the end of our traditional school schedule, but technically we are not quite finished with school.
We begin our first summer break around Memorial Day. We can usually get three full weeks off in early June. This works well for us because June is our busy month with birthdays and special occasions. My kids also get to celebrate the kickoff to summer with their peers. We get to enjoy our summer like everyone else, taking time to head to the pool, visit local kid fun zones, and sleep in a little.
After our first summer break we start summer school. Summer school is an abbreviated form of our typical school year routine. I use this time to finish any curriculum or projects that were left undone from the school year, focus on trouble areas, review and prevent summer learning loss. I loosely schedule two to three light school days over the course of a week. We have all week to complete the work, whether we stretch it out over all five days or get it done in two is completely up to us and how that particular week is stacking up. Some weeks during summer school we accomplish everything by Tuesday, enjoying the rest of the week for fun and relaxation. Other weeks we do a little school here and a little there as long as we are caught up by Friday. Summer school lasts about five weeks, but this can be adjusted based on what needs to be accomplished. It is a flexible season to keep moving forward academically while finding some time to refuel and refresh ourselves. FYI, if your state requires a certain number of school days, we will have typically completed 170-180 days of school by now. That’s about 32 full weeks, plus the partial weeks in the summer. If your state doesn’t care…then who’s counting?
Once our summer goals have been accomplished we take our second summer break. This is three full weeks off from late July to mid-August. This is my crunch time to plan and prep for the coming school year (although in reality I have been doing a little here and there and have most things already crossed off my to-do list at this point). This is the time to start back to school shopping for basic school supplies (pencils, crayons, first day outfits, etc.), but curriculum has already been purchased by this point. We also have our last bit of summer fun and say good-bye to the long lazy days of the season. But lets be real, here in the Southeast we still have the hot, humid weather for at least another month or so.
Another Year Begins
You can find a free downloadable calendar of our yearly homeschool schedule here, including blank calendars for planning your own schedule. I have included three different school years as examples to help you get the flow.
I hope you find our Balanced Yearly Homeschool Schedule helpful. Please do not feel like you have to follow our schedule, simply use this information to help you tweak your schedule for what works best for your family, season of life, and preference.