There are no hard and fast rules on exactly how you should organize your family’s homeschool year. That’s the underlying beauty of homeschooling, creating a schedule for the year that fits your family’s needs.
If your state or province requires a particular amount of hours or days of schooling, that is where you can start planning your schedule. For example, if you are required to have 180 days of school, then divide that by the number of days per week you plan to “do school”. Now you know how many weeks of schooling to arrange in your schedule as you see fit.
How many days of schooling each week should you complete? Depends on the age and academic maturity of your children. Younger children may only need two days a week of formal schooling, where older, more independent students can handle 4 or 5 days. Do you have music lessons or homeschool co-op programs to attend? Don’t forget to add those to your schedule.
I happen to live in a state with no required amount of days, so I use the 140 lessons in our math textbooks as the foundation for our schedule. Our family completes the “book work” portion of our schooling for 4 days each week with Fridays saved for informal learning , so now I know that I have to have a minimum of 35 weeks of school to schedule.
When do you want to start your school year? In the US, many families like to start after the Labor Day holiday, when most summer travel and activities have ended. Outside of the US, many start the new school year at the start of the new calendar year. Start your school year when it best fits the needs of your family. We started our new school year the first week of August, because it was too hot for outdoor activities. For us, that means we can enjoy some breaks when the weather gets cooler.
Be sure to add some room in your schedule for catching up and the unexpected. Every 4-6 weeks I add a “catch-up” week to our calendar, where no new lessons or very few lessons are planned. If no catch up time is needed, we have the option to get ahead if things are going well or take a break if needed.
What if a new baby joins the family or an illness, move or unexpected event throws your schedule off kilter? What if you are not finished with your science curriculum and the schedule says the school year is over? Don’t feel pressured to continue if you and your family needs a break. The science curriculum will be waiting when you return. Enjoy family time with baby, or unpack and settle in, get some rest and start fresh when you are ready. Remember that a homeschool schedule is simply a helpful guide to keep you on track. Don’t let it become a harsh taskmaster.