Thursday, August 13, 2015

Our Year-Round Homeschool

When we abruptly started homeschooling three weeks into the second semester of Amber's fourth grade year, we had no concept of how to schedule a school year. We honestly took the schedule for the parochial school Amber had just left and adopted it for our homeschool.

We quickly determined we needed fewer hours per day as well as fewer days than the parochial school to achieve the required instruction time. By the beginning of fifth grade I was experimenting with schedules, trying to find the best fit for our life style.

Unexpected Homeschool: Year Round Homeschooling

Each summer between parochial school grades we encouraged Amber to continue learning so there was less slide between the grades. We had plenty of time to work on lessons indoors given the extreme summer heat in our region. Once we transitioned to homeschooling, it was natural to continue a few things over the summer. However, it wasn't until after fifth grade that we made it formal year-round school.

Why do we school year-round?

  1. Keeps both of our brains active and the information at the fore-front of our thoughts.
  2. We don't rush to finish books or topics by the magical end-of-school date. We start new books and topics when we are ready. Each subject flows seamlessly throughout the year.
  3. Models a learning life style. We don't take breaks from learning in our life and refuse to acquire information because of the season.
  4. Logistically, it allows us to take days or weeks off throughout the year when it suits our needs.
  5. Summer is HOT and HUMID in our region. We spend a good deal of time indoors over the summer and learning is a good way to ward off the summer boredom.
  6. Amber's health. We have many sick days or partial sick days throughout the year (similar to #4). Additionally, even when she's having a bad day the lessons help her to focus on something besides a flare in one of her conditions.
Unexpected Homeschool: Year Round Homeschooling
Fun times without the school guilt!
How we school year-round
The mechanics of year-round schooling are not as straight-forward for us as simply having school every available day of the year.
  • We still set official start and end dates of our school year. Those dates mark when we expect school days to be actual full days devoted to learning. Of course we take our vacation and rest days, but a school day is a full day of learning during those periods. Plus, we want the fun of first & last day pictures.

  • We don't always finish one level of a subject within the confines of a school year.  A topic is not completed simply because we've hit the arbitrary end of school year date, nor must we wait for the official first day of school to start a new subject.

    For example: Amber's math schedule does not line up with our school year because of her chronic illness. She may spend the majority of a school year on one math level, but we only switch when she is ready. She began Algebra 1 in December of 7th grade, and will start Algebra 2 in September of 8th grade.

  • Some summer days we entirely skip lessons for no reason other than we had a better offer. During the summer, many of Amber's friends are off of school entirely and she wants to spend time with them. I do not require school work to be completed in order to have fun. Our summer school is much more relaxed than the official school year.

  • We restrict summer school to only two subjects per day. This gives Amber plenty of time to relax and feel she had an extended break without the listlessness that occurs when she is given weeks of unstructured time. (Yes, we tried that over Christmas break and she begged to go back to school.) This doesn't mean we only work on two subjects all summer. It is simply two subjects per day.  In a week Amber may study math, science, writing, history, and literature.  She keeps all of her subjects going throughout the summer using only partial days of school.

Unexpected Homeschool: Year Round Homeschooling
Summer Learning - When it's too hot outside, or stuck on a long car ride.
Setting our Yearly Schedule 
Most years I've set a break schedule for the entire year during my summer planning. We've tried four day school weeks, 6 weeks on school / 1 week off, and 5 weeks on / 1 week off.  Each method worked great until Christmas when it all fell apart. I will say, the five weeks on school followed by one week off school was the most successful set schedule..

The last semester of seventh grade we opted to un-schedule the remainder of the year, and decided along the way when we needed a break. Good communication between the child and parent is necessary for this method, but it worked well for us. So much so, we are implementing the same plan for eighth grade. There are no days off in our outline for the year, except a vague plan to take an extended break at Christmas.

My schedule for school this year looks like this:
Official First Day: First Monday in August
Official Last Day: Last Friday in May
The remainder of the school year is scheduled as we go along. Because we are diligent, responsible and know we will not need a full 12 months to earn our required school hours, we don't worry about the number of days we take off during the year.

In the end, it's not just year-round homeschooling but life-long learning we are embracing.

(Click image for more Blog Hop entires)

For more fun and informative posts, please visit a few other participants in this year's Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.  Today I'll be visiting:


  1. We homeschool year round, too. We get a lot of work done in the summer when it's so hot here so we can relax a bit more in the fall when the kids are busy with extracurricular activities.

  2. Very good outlook on how you decide to homeschool. It seems like it makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere and learning environment while still having fun and taking it easy when needed. :)

    1. It really does make it easier to not stress out on days when we don't accomplish much, or sick days, field trips days, etc.