One of the most popular questions I’m asked about homeschooling is how do I plan or schedule our year? By all means, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. However, many families choose to follow the traditional school year. Sometimes they choose this because they’ve pulled their children from a private or public school system and it’s routine. Sometimes that’s what works best for their family, but other times it’s because they aren’t aware of other options. Starting in August and finishing in June is just something they’ve never given much thought to not doing.
Scheduling plays an important role in homeschooling, particularly when you’re teaching special needs students. I want to share some advantages to consider if homeschooling year round is a good fit for you. Largely, a common misconception is that burn out is more likely to occur when you school all year, but what if I said it could actually be beneficial or make for a more relaxed learning environment?
If you haven’t ever considered it or are looking for a new plan, consider these benefits:
1. Flexibility: The most famous word in homeschooling, second only to socialization. There is so much more flexibility when you are planning to school all year. You have more weeks. Period. 52 is bigger than 36, and that means you have more buffer time for life to happen, whether it’s the positives like field trips and vacations or possibly illness or emergencies. You seem to be able to get it all done without feeling rushed or behind.
2. Continuity and Pace: It might sound as if you never get a break, or the kids never get a break, but that’s deceiving. The breaks are just scheduled differently and in smaller chunks. Say goodbye to that long period of reviewing after extended summer break. When I think about year-round schooling, the phrase “slow and steady” comes to mind; a continuous flow of learning. If your curriculum is set up to be completed in 30 lessons, an intellectually impaired student might need to move at a slower pace. If you are working with an accelerated or gifted student, you may need less time.
3. Less Transitioning and Anxiety: If you battle with transitions, it’s a big factor in how you manage your homeschool. Often by having a plan that flows consistently through the year, your student will go through less sharp peaks and valleys than a traditional school year; thus, minimizing anxiety and relieving pressure. There’s really no start or end to constantly have in your mind. You might choose to take a small break when you finish “3rd grade or year” before you pick up the next.
4. Seasonal School: Taking an intentionally seasonal approach to your education can have amazing benefits. Kinesthetic learning is especially advantageous and it’s easily incorporated with life skills and situations. Capitalize on discounted travel and field trips in the off-season. School if it’s too hot to play outside in July or play in the cool autumn leaves because it’s perfect. How you adjust your plan with the weather is up to you!
Although this may seem like the most rigorous approach, you might find it to be the converse. You might eliminate the need for over planning subjects to fit into a specific amount of weeks or find yourself more truly embracing what homeschooling means to your family. It seems to be a less conscious, more natural blend of school and home where the two combine for a common purpose to create a gentle, constant state of learning.
To my family, year-round schooling means doing as much as we can when we can and living in the moment. Not sweating the small stuff and looking forward to the big stuff at the same time. Overall, just doing the best we can. What does your homeschool schedule and style say about you?
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.