A few years ago, a friend introduced my family to the idea of a year-round homeschool. We had been homeschooling a couple of years on a traditional school schedule, and I was feeling very burned out. My friend shared how a year-round homeschooling schedule had helped her family, and, after some prayer and consideration, my husband and I decided to give year-round homeschooling a try. It was a complete game-changer for our homeschool, and we’ve been doing it now for four years.
It’s hard to homeschool and keep up with all your other responsibilities such as laundry, housecleaning, cooking, medical appointments, etc. If you are struggling under the pressures of these and other obligations, you may want to consider year-round homeschooling too.
What is year-round homeschooling?
Generally, year-round homeschooling means that you are homeschooling throughout the entire calendar year. It doesn’t mean that you are homeschooling 365 days a year—it just means that you are spreading your breaks throughout the year instead of having one long break during the summer months.
Is homeschooling year-round right for you?
- Homeschooling year-round may help you avoid homeschool burnout. Homeschool burnout is a real thing. Any homeschool mom will testify that there have been days when she wanted to quit, when she didn’t think that she could homeschool for one more day. Spacing out your breaks throughout the year means that a break is never too far away and homeschooling rarely feels unmanageable.
- Homeschooling year-round may help your children avoid summer learning loss. An article by the Brookings institute reported that students generally forgot a month’s worth of academic content over a typical summer vacation. You can avoid this learning loss by planning shorter, yet more frequent breaks.
- Homeschooling year-round may help boost achievement levels for students with special needs. These students are most at risk for summer learning loss and need extra time to master concepts.
- Year-round homeschooling allows your children to keep the familiarity of a routine and helps them avoid boredom. My children enjoy getting a break from homeschooling, but after about two or three weeks, they are ready to get back to their school routine. By that time, they have usually exhausted their vacation bucket list and are coming to me asking for ideas for how to spend their time.
- Year-round homeschooling allows you to plan vacations during the less-expensive “off seasons” and take advantage of those less-crowded destinations.
- You are doing school when other families are not. It might be difficult for your children to settle down for a day of homeschooling when they can hear the neighbors down the street splashing around in their backyard pool. Or maybe your child gets invited to a special activity on a day when local schools have a holiday, but you’ve planned a homeschool day. If you’re not careful, your children may come to resent your homeschool schedule.
- School supplies may be more expensive or hard to find when you need them. Stores are generally well-stocked with school supplies (and often deeply discount them!) right before the local schools start in August or September. But they are not so readily available if you start your new school year in January or June.
- It may be easy for you to justify unplanned days off. Fifty-two weeks sounds like a long time. It may be easy to look at an opportunity and think “We can take off. We have plenty of days left to make it up.” If you’re not careful, you may end up doing a lot less school than you initially planned.
How to Plan Your Year-Round Homeschool Schedule
How long is a homeschool year?
The number of required days in a homeschool year varies from state to state. I live in South Carolina (a “moderately” regulated state according to HSLDA), and I am required to homeschool for 180 days each school year. Other states have different requirements, so be sure to find out what the law requires in your state.
What does a year-round homeschool schedule look like?
There are several scheduling options for a year-round homeschool. Here are some homeschooler favorites. You can combine any of these yearly schedules with other daily scheduling options such as loop or block scheduling.
- Sabbath schooling. Sabbath schooling is based on the pattern seen in the Creation week of six days of work followed by a day of rest. Some year-round homeschoolers take this pattern and plan six weeks of homeschooling followed by a week of rest. If you are homeschooling 5 days a week, you are able to add some additional breaks into your schedule too.
- 4-day homeschool week. My family homeschools on a 4-day a week schedule (typically Monday through Thursday). This schedule gives us a lot of flexibility every week, and we have an additional 7 weeks of vacation time that we can schedule throughout the year.
- Pre-defined terms followed by predictable breaks. One of the great benefits of year-round homeschooling is that you can arrange your calendar how you want to. You could schedule four 45-day “terms” followed by a fifteen-day break at the end of each term. Or you can schedule three 60-day terms followed by a twenty-day break at the end of each term.
No matter how you arrange your calendar, you will want to schedule most of your break time in advance. Doing so will help you stay on track and help you avoid burnout.
When should you start the homeschool year?
When you start your homeschool year is ultimately up to you, but here are some things that you might want to consider when you are deciding on your start date.
- Your ideal end date. Your start date affects your end date. If you need or want to be done with school by a certain date, you will want to take that into consideration when planning your start date.
- Local school schedules. Some families like to start a new homeschool year around the same time as the local schools. School supplies are on sale, and there is less confusion when it comes to grade-related activities.
- Climate. Some families like to take their longest between-school-years break when the local weather is typically the nicest.
- The calendar. Some families like to have a long break around the holidays and start their new school year the beginning of January when everyone feels fresh and motivated.
When does the homeschool year end?
You may choose to end your homeschool year when you have completed the required number of school days that your state requires. However, some families go beyond that number of required days in order to finish all the lessons in their planned curriculum.
How many days a week do you homeschool?
Most year-round homeschoolers homeschool five days a week for 36 weeks out of the year. Some homeschoolers (myself included) choose to homeschool only four days every week for 45 weeks out of the year.
How to Schedule Year-Round Homeschooling in the Homeschool Hub
It’s easy to plan a year-round homeschooling schedule in BJU Press’s Homeschool Hub. When you initially assign a course from the Courses Page, you can enter the course start date, choose how many days a week you plan to work on that course, and what type of schedule you will generally follow. From the calendar page, you can schedule your break times by clicking the “Add Event” button at the top of the page. And, if you need to take an unexpected day off, you can re-arrange your lesson schedule with just a few clicks. There are many options available in the Hub for setting up your schedule.
Year-round homeschooling has been a huge blessing to my family. By giving us a more relaxed schedule, it has given us the time to homeschool joyfully. Instead of trying to cram our 180 days into nine months, we get to spread it out throughout the whole year and spend more time building relationships, developing character, and making memories—some of the very goals that drove us to homeschooling in the first place.
But I know that homeschooling year-round isn’t for everyone—one of the great things about homeschooling is that you can decide on the schedule that works best for your family, whether that is a traditional or a year-round schedule. As long as you are meeting your state requirements, there’s no wrong way to plan your homeschool calendar. So embrace your homeschooling freedom and enjoy your homeschool journey!