Challenge the Norm – You Don’t Have to Follow a Traditional School Year Schedule

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One of the major rewards of homeschooling involves an absolute sense of freedom when it comes to our children and their educations. Of course, we have to follow the guidelines set forth by our respective state laws, such as what types of subjects our kids must study and how many days our school must be in session, but beyond that, we get to choose how they study those subjects and when our schooling takes place. Many of us, I dare say most of us, grew up in the traditional public-school system that begins in late August and ends in May. This “traditional” calendar came about when our society was mostly agrarian and was a great way for the families to have their children at home to help with the harvesting needs of that lifestyle. It has become ingrained in us so deeply that many a new homeschooling mom would never dream that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Indeed, there are no strict guidelines on your academic calendar – save for the number of days your school year must contain and – in many states – the number of hours per day. You are absolutely free to create your academic calendar around your family’s needs and today we are going to explore just a few ways some seasoned mamas like to set up their school year. Ultimately, the choice is absolutely yours and what works this year may not be the best fit next year. The beauty is in the freedom!

Traditional schooling.

This is pretty self-explanatory in that this calendar will closely mirror your local public school’s calendar. Many homeschoolers choose to follow a traditional calendar for a variety of reasons, but often times it works best if you want your kids to be on a similar schedule as their neighborhood friends or extended family members. Some families may have a child who opts to attend public school instead of being homeschooled with their siblings, so these families may find that following a traditional schedule makes the most sense.

Year-round schooling.

This is becoming a popular option for parents who prefer to keep their kids mentally stimulated during the “dog days” of summer. Year-round schooling does not mean the kids are in school every day all year long, rather that the schedule is flexible throughout the year to take days off when the weather is nice, or to allow the family to vacation in the “off” season. Many parents will schedule extended breaks around the holidays and then continue the school year into June to make up for the time off. It really is up to you and what works best for your family, though you definitely want to keep in mind your state requirements for any testing or documentation that needs to be turned in.

Calendar schooling.

Calendar schooling has become a great option for parents who want a truly non-traditional calendar. Many of these parents choose to start their new school year in January instead of August (*gasp* can they do that?! You bet they can!). This tends to work very well in places where it’s too hot to enjoy the majority of summer (here’s looking at you, Georgia!) and the kids tend to be indoors anyway. An added bonus to schooling in the summer is scheduling lessons in the morning and having what feels like an entire day of leisure afterward. Summer days are notoriously long, after all! Then, the family is free to take their “summer” vacation in the late Fall/early Winter when the weather is infinitely more pleasant and there’s all the holidays to attend to. A novel idea, indeed, but as mentioned above, do be sure to keep abreast of your state’s requirements for testing or documentation.

Term schooling.

Term schooling is certainly not new, but it is getting a bit more attention nowadays. In this calendar system, the schooling takes place six weeks at a time with a week off in between, for a total of six terms. This system works especially well for mothers that want time to catch up on their own projects or just like to allow time for less structured learning activities and free play. As an alternative to the 6/1 term, some parents opt for a 9/2 term, with four 9-week blocks of schooling with 2 weeks off in between.

So, there you have it! This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways you can structure your home school calendar, but I hope it at least gives you a few ideas and allows you to think outside the traditional calendar box. You have the absolute freedom to school how and when you wish, why not flex those freedom muscles and see what kind of flexibility you can discover in your own home school calendar? Remember, no two families are exactly alike so this really is all about what works best for YOU!

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