I am a planner. I mean I like to have things planned out. I don’t have to be locked into the plans and the plans frequently change but I need to have structure. I need to have a frame or map to get me started. As part of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop I am doing a series of posts about planning. What do I plan before we head Back to Homeschool: planning the calendar, planning our course of study, and using both paper and digital planners.
When the girls were very small I didn’t stress too much about calendars. We have have always leaned more towards a year-round approach taking time off as needed. We would just start the next math book or the next level of whatever subject when we finished the first one. I did take the time to put in specific breaks such as federal holidays that Honeybear is off and scheduled breaks at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Our first day of School would be in late August or early September and we would aim to be finished by Memorial Day. Then I started just planning on us finishing mid June. There was lots of margin built into our more relaxed approach.
As the girls grew and we hit high school, I realized we needed a bit more structure. I also realized I really like having more of a summer break. Tailorbear likes having a summer break. We can only take off so much time during the year before we start losing valuable learning time.
So when planning out the school year, I start with the school calendar. I use 180 days as my standard for school days. We do not do school on Saturdays or Sundays. Let me rephrase that. We often do “field trips” or other educational activities but I don’t schedule lessons or classes for those days. So that means I need 180 weekdays and I like to keep those weekdays from September to June.
I use Homeschool Tracker Plus (which is no longer offered for sale but I recommend checking out Homeschool Tracker Online) and I use the School Year Calculator. You can just do this with a regular calendar but I love the SYC feature! I tell tracker that my first day of school is September 1st and that my last day of school is August 31st and that I want 180 minimum school days.
There is a place for me to input holidays and vacations and it will subtract those dates from the available school days and tell me how many days over and above my minimum. Those extra days are my margin: a few extra days “Just in case we need a day off.”
Tailorbear specifically asked for one day a month, not pre-planned, for a “I just don’t want to go school. It’s raining out and I want to play games or read a book.” I love that she’s taking responsibility and that my high school students wanted input in the school year calendar. Thanks to federal holidays there is nearly one day off every month. Yes, it’s planned. And it works out that there are enough days for most months to have an unplanned day off. It will work out that November, December, and April will not have an unscheduled, unplanned available day off but those months already have lots of planned breaks for holidays.
This can be done using a regular calendar. It isn’t necessary to use a computer program. I do think it helps morale for both teacher and students to have both scheduled, planned breaks and to have unscheduled wiggly room. The advantage? If you don’t use them you can finish your school year early. We always use ours though. Do you plan out your calendar and breaks in advance?
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Dawn @ Double O Farms
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler
Lexi @ Lextin Academy
Karen @ My Harbor Lights
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker
Joanie @ Simple Living Mama
Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
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Check out this week’s letter!