If you have experienced homeschool burnout in the past, perhaps now is a great time to consider a scheduling method called Sabbath Schooling for the upcoming school year. Sabbath Schooling is not what you may be thinking. No, we don’t homeschool on the Sabbath; it really has nothing to do with a particular day that is set apart for the Lord.
This homeschool scheduling method could be a real game changer for you! You do not need any software or to purchase anything – just a notebook and calendar!
Back when my oldest was in fourth grade (she graduated our homeschool in 2018) we experienced major homeschool burnout. She was the only child at the time and I was pregnant with our second. Things were really tough and I was ready to throw in the towel, so it was time for some major changes.
After I identified that her learning style did not jive with the curriculum we were using (heavy worksheet load, primarily), we changed things up a lot to use notebooking for several subjects. The other thing we radically changed was the way we scheduled our homeschool year.
The great thing about homeschooling is that you can adjust most anything to be a perfect fit for your particular homeschool. Sabbath Schooling is the same.
The idea of Sabbath Schooling is to homeschool for six weeks and then take a week off. This follows the Creation example of how the Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, but even secular homeschoolers could adopt this method of homeschool scheduling.
When my oldest hit high school it wasn’t practical for her to take a week off, mostly because she was not good at time management and was always behind in her schoolwork, so we ceased Sabbath Schooling. We are going to be starting it back up in the fall and I have the perfect schedule for you if you want to try it out too.
I provide an example 2019-2020 schedule below which shows how to get 180 days in (if necessary), while scheduling 5 planned weeks off throughout the year, taking the whole month of December off, AND getting summer break!
We normally start school in mid August and I scheduled it out below to homeschool for six weeks, taking the seventh week off. You can modify this to fit into a four-day school week if you take Fridays off and don’t have attendance requirements. You can also homeschool for seven weeks and take the eighth week off. It’s very flexible and you can work it out however you need to.
I planned it out to take our spring break during our Sabbath Week – which fell during the week of Easter, and we even hit our next Sabbath Week during Memorial Day week and will finish on time for the Fourth of July!
This rotation takes us through November, adjusting as needed so that we are scheduled to be off the week of Thanksgiving. To fit our Sabbath Weeks in where we wanted them, we will homeschool for eight weeks right before taking Thanksgiving week off. This actually made our Sabbath Weeks the rest of the year fall perfectly where I wanted them!
In the past we took the entire month of December off and instead of going back to a full workload for a week after Thanksgiving and then taking off again (it’s really difficult to do that!), we did fun projects and unit studies that were about the Pilgrims, Native Americans, or Christmas. One year we did a hymn study that incorporated Thanksgiving hymns and Christmas hymns. This year Thanksgiving week flows right into December, so there is no extra “in-between” week.
Taking the month of December off allows time to re-group for the second half of the year, as well as spend quality time with family baking, Christimas shopping, decorating for the holidays, etc.
We resume the first Monday in January after New Years Day. Actually, I think one year we started ON New Years Day, but obviously you can decide how you want to work that out for your own homeschool. Our schedule of six weeks on and one week off resumes through the first quarter, taking our spring break during the week of Easter with our sights on summer vacation that will come in July.
Our homeschool will go through the end of June and then we take the full month of July and beginning of August off, leaving us about a 6-week summer. This is perfect for us because taking a break any longer results in having to review a lot when we start school back up.
The idea behind scheduling our homeschool like this is to spread out the school year a bit instead of cramming everything into a typical 9 month schedule. It makes it easier to schedule things like dentist and doctor appointments, errands, and even lesson planning! I like to spend the seventh “week off” evaluating where we are in our curriculum and make adjustments to lessons, etc.
Benefits of having planned weeks off throughout the school year:
Something to look forward to for both MOM and children.
You know that feeling come April deemed “end of the year”itis” when the end of the school year is in sight but you are ready NOW? Some families are so brain-friend from an exhausting school year that this starts for them in February or March! When you schedule time off throughout the school year it helps both you and your child(ren) avoid burnout. It gives you something to look forward to short-term. The light at the end of the tunnel is always in sight because it is right around the corner.
The Sabbath Week can be used as leverage for getting schoolwork completed in the six week chunks.
When we first started implementing a Sabbath School schedule in our homeschool, my daughter really didn’t know what to expect, (neither did I). We met the first week off with much enthusiasm, but then she took it for granted and slacked when we resumed school. The second scheduled Sabbath Week came and she was behind in her math lessons, so while I took a week off, she had to do math each day. We started using Teaching Textbooks that year and since it’s an independent math curriculum, she didn’t need me to help her with it. I will suffice it to say she learned her lesson and stayed on track for the rest of the school year!
Time for lesson planning.
We used a very broad, laid back lesson planning system with a notebook and pencil back then. I spent one of my off days reviewing our lesson plans to see where we were with our curriculum and to make sure we stayed on track to finish the school year on time. Now we use Homeschool Planet and it does all that for me, so it isn’t really necessary for our homeschool, but if you still prefer handwriting your lesson plans, this is a great way to avoid excessive erasing throughout the year.
Organizing your homeschool portfolio as you go.
Have you ever waited until the end of the school year to put together your homeschool portfolio? I am jumping and raising my hand. Each state has its own requirements, but in Florida we don’t have to keep everything. During your Sabbath Week you can spend an hour or two getting your previous six weeks organized and purged. It makes the end of the year so much easier to manage. You can use our free portfolio planner as you go too.
Planned breaks can help with curriculum evaluations.
Many homeschooling families run into poor curriculum matches at one point or another. Instead of waiting until December when it’s time to take a break and think about the second semester, you can spend some time during your Sabbath Weeks to evaluate how your homeschool curriculum is working for your family and make changes accordingly. You have a clear head because you are not completely burned out.
Taking a break from homeschooling helps both teacher and student avoid burnout.
Homeschool burnout happens. We get tired, weary of the struggles associated with homeschooling, and often times get cranky – both moms and kids alike. Taking a breather during Sabbath Weeks throughout the school year helps to avoid burn out and give us all clear heads. It’s easier to maintain a sense of calm when you know that a break is just around the corner!
The planning of home projects can be worked into your schedule easier.
Do you have a home improvement project you want to tackle? How about spending a week canning your harvest? Maybe you are planning intense spring cleaning? Any of these tasks can be planned to take place during a Sabbath Week!
A shorter summer means less boredom and memory lapse with math.
I don’t know about you, but I have seen my children regress in their knowledge if we break entirely for two months or more in the summer. They have to review so much math because they forget everything. We have had to start over with some grammar concepts because they forgot how to use the more advanced punctuation, such as semi-colons. A shorter break means they retain more of what they previously learned.
Sabbath Schooling offers a very flexible schedule.
If your spouse has a scheduled vacation time, you can easily plan your Sabbath Week around it by making a simple adjustment, like we did for Thanksgiving by schooling for eight weeks then taking our Sabbath Week on week nine instead of week seven. If a child becomes sick and you take a whole week off, you can simply cancel you next Sabbath Week or just add a week on at the end of the year, OR if do you not have compulsory attendance requirements, you can just write it off as a week lost.
This method of homeschool scheduling can really make a huge difference in the atmosphere in your homeschool. If you have experienced burnout in the past and want to try something new, I highly recommend considering Sabbath Schooling.
An example of how Sabbath Schooling will look for our 2019-2020 school year:
- School starts 8/12/19 = homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week 9/23/19 through 09/27/19
- School resumes 9/30/19 and continues for 8 weeks (to adjust the schedule for Thanksgiving) = homeschool for 40 days
- Sabbath week 11/25/19 & December break
- School resumes 1/6/20 =homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week 2/17/20
- School resumes 2/24/20 = homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week/spring break (falls on Easter week) 4/6/20
- School resumes 4/13/20 = homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week (Memorial Day week) 5/25/20
- School resumes 6/1/19 and ends on 6/30 = homeschool for 22 days
- Summer break starts 7/1/20
This schedule will result in 182 days of scheduled homschool, 5 planned whole weeks off, the month of December off, Easter week being your spring break, having Memorial Day week off, and completing your homeschool year just in time for the Fourth of July!
I am excited for a stress-less homeschool year that will prevent homeschool burnout for our family. It will be my youngest child’s first experience with Sabbath Schooling.
Carrie is the owner & operator of Homeschool Giveaways. She has been homeschooling for over a decade and has successfully graduated her first homeschooler. She has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.
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