There are so many choices you can make when it comes time to figure out your homeschool schedule, and for many new homeschoolers, the first question asked is, "Do I have to follow the public school schedule for my district?"
Ah, the mysteries of the homeschool schedule. One of the first things I had to adapt to after becoming a homeschool mom was to let go of the traditional public school schedule and find what works best for my family. Along the way, I've met many homeschool moms who have all created unique schedules for their homeschool that fits perfectly with their family needs. What I've learned over the years is that we are all unique and so are our schedules, which was the number one thing I had in mind when I sat down to design the original undated Homeschool Planner and Essential Organizer.
It's not unusual for non-homeschooling families and those who have just switched to homeschooling to assume homeschool has to look like the public school schedule. In fact, many people who think they can't homeschool because of their own busy schedules, just haven't realized that a homeschool schedule can be created to fit around each family's needs. And you have much more flexibility than you may realize.
The Homeschool Year
We all know traditional school in most states starts between August and September and ends between May and June. This is why most teachers and academic planners on the market run from July-June. That may be perfect for teachers and students of traditional schools, but it was frustrating for me and many other homeschoolers who had no other options when shopping for school planners during the back-to-school season.
While some homeschoolers like to follow along with the local public school schedule, many other homeschoolers have created unique yearly schedules. Some homeschoolers like to trade their long summer vacation for a long winter holiday vacation, so instead of being off June, July, and August, they take off starting Halloween and don't return till after the new year. Some prefer year-round schooling with many breaks at ideal times all throughout the year. Some will take a week or two off every 6 weeks as well as some holiday vacation time. As long as you get the required amount of school days in, it really doesn't matter where they fall. It's completely up to you. Sit down and mark off all your ideal vacation days, as well as how long you think you can school before you need a break, and see what you come up with. Check out this post about nailing your year's schedule in no time.
It didn't take me long to figure out my perfect schedule and I've been using it ever since. For my family, we are "year-round" homeschoolers. I like to start right after labor day since my youngest's birthday is at the end of August and I don't want the distraction of a birthday popping up right at the beginning of my school year. We then take a very generous holiday break to enjoy the nice weather and the holiday season.
Our next generous break is around Easter. I like to take at least 3 weeks off around this time to enjoy the perfect spring weather and plant our warm weather garden. Our summer break is shorter than the traditional summer break, only 3 weeks. Since our summers are too hot and wet to really enjoy the outdoors, the kids would get bored really quickly being stuck indoors on their vacation for 3 months in the tropical season. 3 weeks work perfectly for us. On top of all this, we also take a week off every six-week term so that my kids get a curriculum break and I get a teacher's in-service week to plan out my next term.
The Homeschool Week
This is another area where many people at first assume school has to be Monday - Friday with weekends off since that's the traditional schedule. But for homeschoolers, these rules don't apply and each week can look drastically different from the next, depending on the family and their needs.
For many families with oilfield dads who work 7 days of the week followed by 7 days off, or 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, homeschool is on while dad is working and off while dad is home. They repeat this schedule all year, being "year-round" schoolers but maximizing their family time together.
I've seen the same with many police officer families. Police officers many times will work 2 days, then are off 2 days, then work 3 days through the weekend, then start over the next week ending with a 3 day weekend off. These families sometimes follow that same schedule as well to maximize their family time together. The school week might be Monday and Tuesday, then Friday -Sunday with Wednesday and Thursday off, and looking completely different the next week.
And, some other homeschoolers only school 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5, because homeschooling takes less time than traditional school and you can get it all done in just a few days if you want to.
This is the reason I didn't write in the M-F on the weekly lesson planner of the original undated Homeschool Planner and Essential Organizer. Knowing each family is different, some schooling Tuesday - Saturday, Monday - Thursday, or every other day, or any other combination you can think of, it just made sense that homeschool families should get to choose which days of the week they are schooling without having to cover up the M-F in their "teacher planners".
The Homeschool Day
The homeschool day is also unique for each family. One thing's for sure, you don't see homeschoolers waking up to an alarm clock, rushing breakfast then rushing their kids out to catch the bus, or wait in the long drop-off lines at school. Nope. Many of us wake up when we wake up, which means we are well-rested and ready to make a nice breakfast and start our day.
The homeschool day can last anywhere from under an hour, to just a few hours, or last till dinner. In homes where both parents work, homeschool may begin after dinner, and last about as long as the average time it takes a public schooler's "homework" to get done. Homeschoolers are able to spend way less time on their work because they are in an environment that is catered to their personal needs, not the needs of 30 different kids in a classroom, which is what slows things down so much in the public school setting, and part of why it lasts all day. Parents are able to spend 1:1 time with their kids to help them through their assignments and then they and their kids get to move on with their day.
Remember, Your School, Your Rules
So, what's the best way to schedule a homeschool? The short answer is whatever is the best way that works for your family. So if you are new to homeschooling, or thinking of homeschooling, and the homeschool scheduling was a point of confusion for you, I hope you can relax knowing that there are no rules but the ones you make. You can try on any schedule you see fit, and you can even change it up week by week if that's what you want. As long as you are meeting your state's requirements, you are good! The most important thing is that your kids are learning and that your family is spending quality time together that you wouldn't normally get if they were in public school all day. So relax, grab yourself a warm cup of tea (or coffee), open your planner, and plan out your best homeschool year!
The Homeschool Shirts featured in this post were created by me and are available on Amazon here:
You can see all my Homeschool Planners HERE. My planners come in the Original Undated version, a Dated version for the current school year, a Faith Edition, and a Full Color Edition.