That's right, I said WEEK, not day, a nice full week.
This is something I started doing a few years back and it's been the best thing I've ever done in my homeschool scheduling. Now if you have no desire to break from the public school traditional schedule, this will not be for you, but if you are open to being flexible with how you schedule your year and if you are looking for any new ideas in scheduling your year, read on.
Breaking The Year Into Six Week Terms
When I was still in school, many MANY years ago, we had 6 "six week" terms, and at the end of each term is when we got our report card. Now I've heard some places do 9 week terms instead, and if that's how you like it, you can do that too. Six weeks works perfect in my home so that's what we use. But instead of a report card at the end of the six week term, it's a much needed week off for my kids, and a week of planning and catching up for me. This "teachers in-service" week is where I plan out my next six week term. Taking it term-by-term helps me plan in bite size chunks through the year, often enough to make any necessary changes as I go.
What My In-Service Week Looks Like
First priority is to plan our next term. Since we like to use unit studies, I use my time picking our topics, gathering all our books and resources, planning any projects, adding all links to online resources in advance in our OneNote account, and scheduling everything in my planner.
My next priority is to play catch up with any other mom/adult responsibilities that fell behind during our school term. Sometimes between business, school, and my massive gardening hobby, the house ends up needing a little extra attention. So I catch up on chores, food prepping, organizing, decluttering, shopping, anything that just needs to get done but keeps getting put off. This is my time to knock it all out.
Finally, if I have the time, I take a nice little break myself. Because I need it just as much as the kids. When our week is over, we feel refreshed and ready to conquer a new six week term. This method has helped prevent burn out during the school year for both me and my kids. I really can't recommend it enough.
What My Kids' Week Looks Like
Do my kids just get a whole week off, weekend style? Not usually. While I want them to have a break from their routine and their scheduled curriculum, I don't want them sitting around watching tv or playing on the PlayStation all week. I usually let them have lots of outside playtime, indoor art time, educational game time, and time to socialize with friends.
For my youngest, we use Osmo educational games. They don't feel educational to him and when I set it up he gets extremely excited. He also gets lots of time to color and draw, or even paint with watercolors. Another favorite activity for them is our slime sand kit. It's basically kinetic sand but with slime added to keep it from crumbling everywhere. We set up relaxing music and the kids really emerge themselves into this activity. Getting extra time to run outside and play when the weather is nice is also a huge bonus for them for the week.
My daughter spends most of her time working on art projects. She wants to be an artist, so I have been giving her as much time as we can for her to develop her skills, experiment with styles, and find her art direction. She also gets extra time to facetime her friends during that week.
How I Work It Into My Schedule
So by now you're thinking:
"That totals up to 6 weeks off during the school year! How do you make room in the schedule?"
Well, I plan my schedule around it. We don't follow that public school traditional schedule of starting in august and finishing at the end of may. Having an entire summer off really makes no since for me. It may work for the public school system but not for my home.
For one thing, the summer-break ends up being a lot of "bored" time for my kids. Our summers are hot, like sub-tropical hot. And very wet, it's constantly raining. No one wants to go outside. And it's a tragedy to waste our few "good weather" days focusing more on school than free outside time just because the public school schedule says so. One of the first things I had to get used to when I first started homeschooling, was that homeschool isn't public school, and we are free to make our own schedule. As soon as I got used to this idea, planning our schedule became a huge breath of fresh air. And the freedom we have experienced since then has been totally worth it.
Another reason summer-breaks don't work in my house is the kids forget too much from the school year. Their brains need to exercise all those connections that have been building though the school year or the connections weaken, and we end up wasting too much time in the new school year having to re-learn things they already knew months before. I'm all for breaks, as you are about to see, but too much can be detrimental. Because the brain is like a muscle, if you don't use it, you start to lose it.
So we are technically "year round" schoolers. Meaning we have no huge summer break. But we do get a "long enough" summer break. And an even longer spring break, and a nice and long winter holidays break. Plus all our six week term breaks too. We love taking breaks, so we are taking plenty of them through the year. Long enough to feel refreshed and ready to return, but not long enough to forget any important skills.
What My School Year Calendar Looks Like
Here's what my year round schedule looks like. This is a spread from my Homeschool Planner and Essential Organizer that shows a basic idea of what my year can look like after filling out this spread. There are two spreads, a full 12 months of planning, and it takes just a few minutes for me to complete my entire school calendar this way.
So what do you think about taking a week off after each term? Is this something you plan on trying? Do you already do something similar? Let me know in the comments below!
Love the Mug? Get it here!