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High 10 Methods to Schedule Your Homeschool Calendar

January 20, 2024
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One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility it offers, and one of the areas in which we get to enjoy that flexibility is how we schedule our homeschool calendar. I’m not talking about your day-to-day schedule (that’s a whole other level of flexibility), but, rather, how we schedule the overall homeschool year.

I’m one of those people who plan out our school year calendar every year before we get started. Our state requires a 180-day school year, so I want to make sure I’ve got a plan for getting them all accounted for in a way that suits our family’s needs.

For example, I’ve always planned our calendar so that we’re finished by Brianna’s birthday at the end of May each year since birthdays are school holidays around here. And, no, we don’t make those days up. They are scheduled days off. {I’m looking at you, crazy lady from Chuck E. Cheese a few years ago.}

If you’re new to homeschooling and not sure how you want to schedule your year, or you’ve been at this for a while and are ready for some changes, I’ve got some ideas for you.

schedule your homeschool calendar

Different Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Calendar

1. Six Weeks On/One Week Off

Although we decided not to use it this year, my family and I were particularly fond of a six-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule for several years running. We would typically start school the week after July 4 and do six weeks on/one week off until Thanksgiving.

We’d take off the week of Thanksgiving until the week after New Year’s, then go back to six weeks on/one week off. (You read that right – one of the best ways to homeschool during the holidays is no school for the whole Christmas season! Talk about a stress reliever!) That brought us to the end of May and allowed for a six-week summer break.

2. Labor Day to Memorial Day

Many of our friends prefer a more traditional school year plan. They like to start after Labor Day, enjoying a full summer break. I notice this trend a lot among our friends who have swimming pools. {grin}

Some of our friends who follow a general Labor Day to Memorial Day schedule stop on or before Memorial Day while others go into the first couple of weeks of June. This homeschool calendar schedule gives you room for a:

  • Three-month summer break
  • One-week fall break
  • Two-week Christmas break
  • One-week spring break

It also leaves room for 3-4 one-day national holiday breaks (or your kids’ birthdays!) scattered throughout the school year.

3. Four Weeks On/One Week Off

If you need a more consistent schedule, prefer more frequent breaks, or have kids who don’t do well with longer breaks, a four-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule may appeal to you. You can adjust your break time to allow for any of the following:

  • a two-week Christmas break with a long summer break
  • a shorter summer break with December off
  • random breaks throughout the year, as needed

4. Semester and Quarter Schedules

A nine-weeks-on/two-weeks-off schedule is ideal if your family (or your homeschool curriculum) follows traditional semester and quarter schedules.

A 36-week school year can be divided into four 9-week quarters with a 2-week break between each. Additionally, two of those 9-week sessions can be combined into fall and spring semesters.

5. Four-day School Week

For those who prefer an actual year-round schedule, four-day school weeks may work best. This allows for a completely year-round schedule with the flexibility of a few weeks off, as needed, during the year. Additionally, a year-round, four-day school schedule can be the ultimate sanity-saver when it comes to scheduling appointments or co-op or making up unexpected days off.

6. Split It Up

If you’re just looking for a consistent routine, try splitting the required 180 days into 12 months. That gives you 15 school days per month, each month, in whatever way you’d like to schedule them. 

7. Log-as-you-go Homeschool Schedule

Many homeschooling families prefer simply to log their school days as they occur, taking time off as needed. That would so not work for our family because my kids would be trying to make every day an off day. However, I am trying this technique with my homeschool planning for some subjects this year, logging what we do in my homeschool planner each day, rather than trying to plan out the entire week. So far, so good!

8. Public School Calendar

Families with another child who attends public (or private) school or a spouse who works in the school system may prefer the simplicity of following that school’s calendar so that everyone is on the same schedule. Planning couldn’t be easier since it’s already done for you!

Even if you don’t have kids or a spouse in the public school system, you may prefer following their schedule for any number of reasons. You can usually find your local school’s calendar on the county department of education website.

9. Calendar Year

I have known homeschooling families who schedule their school year within a calendar year (January – December). I confess that I would find that method confusing because it’s so out-of-the-ordinary and so different from our state’s required reporting dates. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you, though, so it’s worth mentioning.

The previously mentioned method of schooling 15 days each month would work well with a calendar year homeschool schedule.

10. Completely Customized

I am one of those people who needs a certain rhythm and routine, so this suggestion would probably not work for me, but you could completely customize your schedule based on your family’s needs. That’s the beauty of homeschooling!

You can do 4 days this week, 5 days next week, take a week off for a family vacation and come back to a 3-day week. The only requirement (depending on your state’s homeschool laws) would be ensuring that 180 days (or whatever your state requires) are met.

Whatever homeschool calendar scheduling method you decide to use, I encourage you not to be a slave to your schedule. Field trips are school days. Getting lost on a rabbit trail on a topic that interests you or your kids is a school day. Lying in bed reading all day, attending a homeschool party with your friends, or curling up on the couch watching documentaries because your kid is sick are all school days. Learning happens all the time, not just when the school books are scattered on the dining room table. 

You can pick up more great tips for planning your homeschool year from Blueprint Homeschooling by Amy Knepper. (You can also read my review of Blueprint Homeschooling.)

How do you plan your homeschool year? Leave a comment so other homeschooling moms and dads can get some ideas.

Featured image by Gustavo Fring

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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