As we approached our first year of homeschooling, my husband and I decided to stick with the public school calendar. Our boys' friends were going to be on that schedule, and we also thought that it would make it easier on them in case we decided to send them back to public school. After that first year, things started to change. I started to break away from the traditional mold of what school should look like and when it should happen. Well, maybe a little. My professional background is in special education, and I used to be a classroom teacher. I can't quite completely get on board with some methods of homeschooling that are much less structured than we are. But that's okay. What works for my family may not be what works best for another family. I do realize though that I need to loosen up a bit.
Last year, we decided to use our own schedule. The boys and I all agreed that during our first year we felt like we didn't have enough breaks. I didn't have enough planning time, and I didn't have enough time to get other work done. I'd get some done each day, but I never seemed to get caught up. The boys were stressed out, too. In our second year, we started taking whole weeks off. With some flexibility around birthdays and holidays, it works out to about five weeks on and then one week off. It worked great! After about five weeks into our school year, we really did need some time off. We needed some time to relax and decompress. I needed to get caught up on some of my tasks that got pushed aside throughout our weeks. The kids seem to be doing much better than I'd expected. And it's so nice to know that we have another break week coming up the next month!
As we approach the new school year, I'm finding that I continue to make new schedules for us. I've learned that I'm not someone who can plan an entire year and stick to it. I've learned that we need these longer breaks and that we really enjoy them. I've learned that we can ease into school. We're starting back next week with only about half of our subjects, the ones the boys will be doing more independently. This will allow them to get into a new routine working more independently and I can take the time next week to support them as they develop this skill. The following week, we'll be jumping back into the deep end with our full course load. We'll see how it goes. We can always make adjustments if needed.
One of the greatest benefits I'm coming to appreciate about homeschooling is the flexibility of schedule. We're trying something new right now as we seem to do every year, and it may or may not work out for us in the long run. But I have peace in knowing that we can do what works for our family. And you can do the same for your family.
If you have a creative schedule idea that you've used or wanted to try, please tell us about it. You know that homeschoolers are always looking for new ideas!