Monday, October 28, 2013

I've Found a Homeschool Schedule! {*Wild Celebration Ensues*}

For the first several years of our home education journey, I have not had a set yearly schedule - i.e. a pre-set schedule of start dates, end dates, and vacation times. I simply did what many people have told me that they do - go until you want a break, and then take a break.

Thus, we simply "did school" until I was so burned out that I couldn't take it any more, and then I'd throw up my hands and declare a holiday. It worked. Sort of.

But there were many disadvantages to this system.

Firstly, I am an organized-type of person. I like having a plan and knowing where I am. And with this random type of schedule, not only was there no plan (which always makes me uneasy), but I have had no idea of whether or not we're ahead, on schedule, or behind with our books.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, not having a schedule has robbed me of many joys - the joy of anticipating a vacation, the joy of having a vacation time that is well-planned (with crafts, activities, outings, etc.), the joy of celebrating the beginning of a vacation. Instead of coming to a Friday and being able to celebrate the beginning of a break, for example, with perhaps a special dinner and dessert and an outing, it's been mainly a matter of waking up on a Monday morning (with school previously planned) and realizing that I am too tired and worn-down to continue. Thus, we end up with vacations that are half-wasted and completely unprepared-for.

I needed a schedule!

As we go through our school years, I am realizing that a "Sabbath schedule" seems to fit our needs. This is basically a six-weeks-on, one-week-off type of schedule - it seems to be what comes naturally.

Last week, therefore, I sat down with my Outlook calendar and started marking down weeks on and weeks off to see what I ended up with, and I actually came up with what seems to be a wonderful schedule based on the Sabbath schedule model. It consists of six six-week terms, with a one week break in between each - except for summer break, which is six weeks, and Christmas break, which is four weeks.

Additionally, because I prefer to take our break-times during our more temperate Phoenix fall-winter time, our "summer" is in March/April rather than actual summer (when it's too hot to do anything outside around here!).

There is some additional tweaking I'd like to do - our summer break is still too late in the year for my liking, and I'd like to move some of our off-time to October (our most beautiful month!). Additionally, I'll have to give this schedule a whirl for a year or two before I'll know if it truly works.

But for now, here's what I've worked out!

Two additional benefits of having a schedule are (1) knowing my approaching deadlines, such as when I need to have year summaries written and lesson plans completed, and curriculum ordered, and (2) knowing how well we are keeping up with where we need to be in our books. For example, in figuring out (based on the schedule below) that we are now two weeks into our fourth term of the year, I find that we're just a wee bit behind - nothing to worry about, and nothing that we can't quickly make up. That was quite reassuring, and much to be preferred to the "I have no idea where we're supposed to be, and I sure hope we can finish before the end of the year" way of doing things!

Hopefully this chart is fairly clear - I have given the approximate dates of each term, then the length and timing of each subsequent break. For example, the first line shows that our "First Term" of the year is a six-week term occurring during May/June, ending in a one-week "Summer 1" break that will be in June.

Going by this calendar, our first day of school for the 2014-2015 school year will be May 19th, 2014. I may try to move that up a bit, so we'll see how it goes!!

 Term Dates, approx.
 Term Length
 Approx. Date
6 weeks
Summer 1 (1 wk)
6 weeks
Summer 2 (1 wk)
6 weeks
Fall (1 wk)
7-8 weeks
Christmas (4 wks)
6 weeks
Winter (1 wk)
6 weeks
SUMMER (6 wks)
April - May

Homeschooling friends, I'd love to hear about your schedules! What have you worked out for your family? What works, what doesn't?

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