• Year-Round Homeschool Schedules: Exploring Your Options


    The word “schedule” is so tricky. Because, as we all know, the quickest way to ensure that everything will go off course is to make a plan, eh? What we can seem to sometimes accomplish, though, is to find a general outline for what we want to get done, and when. Finding the best homeschool schedule for your family can at least start there.

    In our years of homeschooling we’ve definitely tried it all in terms of how we scheduled out our year. Sometimes, we steadfastly followed the general school-year schedule of 180 days scheduled into roughly nine months of dedicated schooling with the summers off. Other times, we did a four-day homeschool schedule that seemed to push us more into a 10 ½ month run, with still about six weeks off for summer. And one year, we aimed for a three-week-on/two-weeks-off experiment throughout the whole year, just to see how that felt.

    One thing I discovered, though. Since we were always in the “homeschool mindset,” there really was never a choice about whether or not to homeschool year round. Learning seemed to happen even when we were devoutly “on vacation.” I stopped fighting this after the first couple years, and gave into the idea of year-round homeschooling. The trick was simply figuring out which approach was going to serve us best year-to-year.

    Here’s how different year-round approaches might look, and the pros and cons of each.

    Dedicated Summer Subjects

    With this plan, you keep a fairly traditional school-like schedule, but you save one or more specific subjects for the summer months. For us, the summer focus was science. We’ve always loved to do science outdoors, anyway! Leaving science for the summer meant a little more free time in our nine-month daily schedule, and then we could experiment our hearts out at least couple hours a day during June, July, and August.


    • fewer subject-focused hours during the traditional school year means shorter homeschool days
    • saving a subject kids look forward to for summer means no balking at year-round learning
    • if you’re using curriculum for all subjects, you can spread out your purchases across the year


    • this approach may only work for certain subjects; saving all your math, for example, until summer, might be overwhelming for parent and student
    • if the curriculum for your summer subject(s) is very structured, it may be difficult to complete it in three months or less

    Block Scheduling

    While we think of block scheduling more in terms of how to lay out a specific semester, it’s easy to use it to help design a year-round plan as well. If you aren’t familiar with block scheduling, the idea is to dedicate the same number of instruction hours to fewer subjects at a time. So, for example, you might spend 90 minutes on each course instead of 50, but a student would have no more than four courses going at any given time. With a year round approach, you would likely have four quarters of four courses each, with downtime/vacation time between each quarter.


    • with longer focused time on each subject you can incorporate complex projects and activities
    • students have less overall information to process in a given day
    • if a student dislikes a specific subject, he or she can take comfort in knowing it will only last one quarter


    • students with attention difficulties may find it challenging to focus for long stretches
    • if you get behind with your homeschool activities, it can throw a wrench in your whole yearly schedule
    • it can be difficult to cover all material in a single quarter

    Four-Day Homeschool Week

    A four-day homeschool week offers families a lot of flexibility. It means that they will always have at least one day of the week to take field trips, run errands, participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer, and fulfill appointments. For families where at least one parent works outside the house, this can also be a chance to adjust your schedule so that the working parent(s) gets to spend more time with the kids. The other thing to remember is that the day off doesn’t always have to be the same one each week if you need even more flexibility. Of course, a four-day homeschool week usually means a generally longer school year overall in order to complete all curriculum.


    • parents can use some of the the extra day for additional lesson planning and recordkeeping
    • long weekends can mean more chances to travel together as a family


    • three days off in a row can often mean a more difficult time getting back “into the groove” of school when you resume
    • can be tricky for kids who need more structure and a predictable schedule

    Nine Weeks On/ Four Weeks Off

    If the idea of never having more than nine weeks of dedicated schooling in a row floats your boat, then this is a schedule you’ll want to consider. Basically, you are breaking the homeschool year into quarters. If you were working on a full-year calendar that might look like:
    calendar-icon-png schooling from Jan 1 through early March with most of March off
    calendar-icon-png schooling from early April through May with most of June off
    calendar-icon-png schooling from early July through August with most of September off
    calendar-icon-png schooling from early October through November with most of December off


    • vacation is never more than nine weeks away
    • four-week breaks prevent some of the learning loss than can occur from longer vacation periods
    • less likely to deal with curriculum boredom


    • if one or more children is still in the school system on a traditional schedule, this makes it harder to sync time off
    • it can sometimes be difficult to complete long-term educational projects in nine weeks or less


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