This coming fall I will head into our 16th homeschool year. I have learned a lot along the way about what works best for our family and how we can bend our schedule to our needs so that we avoid homeschool burnout. If you have homeschooled ever, you have likely experienced burnout along the way. If you haven’t, you are my hero and I want to be like you one day.
If you are looking for a way to schedule your homeschool year and keep the joy and freedom of homeschooling alive while avoiding burnout, you need to check out our homeschool scheduling method.
Many years ago I read about a homeschool scheduling method coined Sabbath Schooling that was quite appealing to me. The prior year had been a bit difficult in terms of staying on track and upbeat all year long. A few weeks in and I was already looking forward to Thanksgiving & Christmas breaks.
This method of scheduling has nothing to do with our faith in the Lord as you might think when you hear the term “Sabbath.” Some families call it year round homeschooling, however my kid would die if I called it that.
This way of scheduling our homeschool was a real game changer for us! If you want to learn how to schedule your homeschool in a way that keeps you energized and free from homeschool burnout, read on. I even share our Sabbath Schedule with you so you can use that as a springboard!
All you need is a notebook and a calendar and an idea of what holidays you want to take off or vacations you have planned.
Back in 2010 our homeschool was filled with tears and trepidation as we tried desperately to navigate our curriculum. It wasn’t working for us and was causing a lot of dysfunction in our homeschool.
After I learned that my daughter was not thriving with worksheets and tests (that is putting it mildly), we made changes to our homeschool for many subjects. The other thing I drastically changed was the way I scheduled our homeschool year.
My favorite thing about homeschooling is that you can adjust pretty much anything to be a perfect fit for your homeschool. Sabbath Schooling works the same.
The concept of Sabbath Schooling is to do school for six weeks and rest during the seventh week. This follows the Creation example of how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, but the only thing that is “religious” about it is the term Sabbath.
Secular homeschoolers can also adopt a schedule like this in their homeschools (and even call it whatever they want or nothing at all). I mean, it really doesn’t need a name.
When my daughter got into high school, Sabbath Schooling didn’t work for her because she was terrible at time management and did much of her work independently. During this time I slacked on implementing a homeschool schedule like this with our other daughter, but have since gone back to it (much to her delight!).
I provide an example 2020-2021 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 typically start school in mid August and as you can see in our homeschool schedule below, I scheduled it out to homeschool for six weeks, taking the seventh week off. This can be modified for a four-day school week if you take Fridays off as long as you don’t have attendance requirements in your state. 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.
How to Make Your Calendar Work for You:
Starting school on August 10 (for 2020) and breaking after 6 weeks will take us through most of September. Since we take off Thanksgiving week and the entire month of December, our second stretch of homeschooling goes 2 weeks longer for a total of 8 weeks. Knowing that you have an extended break after that will keep you and your children motivated, I promise!
We normally take the entire month of December off instead of going back to school for a week after Thanksgiving and then breaking again (who really wants to do that?!). During this extended time off we like to do projects and unit studies centered around the Pilgrims, Native Americans, or Christmas. We’ve also done a hymn study that incorporated Thanksgiving and Christmas hymns one year.
Taking the month of December off allows you time to evaluate your curriculum choices to see if you need to change anything up for the second semester. You can also plan family gatherings, bake cookies, and do fun things with your kids.
We resume the first Monday in January after New Years Day. Our schedule of six weeks on and one week off will start back up with some minor adjustments so that our spring break becomes our Sabbath Week, which I move to fall on the week of Easter.
I schedule our homeschool to go through the end of June and then we take a wonderful 6-week summer break and start back in early-mid August. I find that longer summer breaks means more math review the first few months because everything that was learned the previous school year had been forgotten. Six weeks is a perfect break for us!
Spreading out the school year instead of cramming everything into a typical 9-month schedule makes it easier to schedule things like doctor appointments, errands, and even lesson planning! I like to have a little time to myself on that seventh week to evaluate how our curriculum is working and do some deep cleaning and organizing (I know, not much of a break!).
The Benefits that Come with Planned Time Off:
Something to look forward to
When you have an end in sight, it’s easier to get through your homeschool days (for both parents and children) because everyone knows a break is coming soon.
Encourages better work habits
I have a general idea of where we should be at the end of each “session.” For topics like math, it’s important that my daughter stays on track in order to complete the curriculum in time for summer break. Other subjects have more leeway in my opinion because my daughter cannot handle doubling up on math if we fall behind. She knows that she will not get a full break during our Sabbath Week if she falls behind in math. Since we use Teaching Textbooks for math, I can still take the week off because the curriculum does the teaching!
Plan your homeschool lessons
I use a “plan-as-I-go” planning sheet to keep a record of daily work, but if you like to plan your lessons out, the Sabbath Weeks are perfect times to do that. In the past I tried to plan my whole year out…that didn’t last long. I prefer to jot down what we did after we did it so I have a good record for our homeschool portfolio.
If you are looking for an online homeschool planner, using Homeschool Planet is a great way to avoid excessive erasing throughout the year as plans change; it adjusts everything for you on the fly!
Time to organize your homeschool portfolios
In the past I have waited until the end of the year to compile my homeschool portfolio. That is not so much fun, unless you love paper cuts. Each state has its own requirements, but in Florida we don’t have to keep everything. During your time off, you can gather up all the work from the previous six weeks and get it organized and purge what you don’t need to keep. It makes the end of the year so much easier to manage. You can use our free portfolio review checklist to make sure you are staying organized and keeping what you need.
Re-evaluate your homeschool curriculum
I bet every homeschool family I know has run into a curriculum mismatch one time or another. Let’s face it, not everything works well for every child. What may have been awesome with my oldest can make my youngest cringe. Instead of waiting until December between your semesters, spend some time during your off weeks to talk to your children about what they like and dislike. See if you can take something you are already using and modify it if it’s not working. If you know you need to switch to something else, don’t be afraid to make the change. Your kids will thank you and your homeschool will be more pleasant.
Avoid homeschool burnout
I think every homeschooling family I have ever met has, at one time or another, experienced burnout. Let’s face it, homeschooling can be difficult at times. It can be hard to keep the cranky out of your homeschool when burnout creeps in to the mix. When you have a week off to look forward to right around the corner, it can help you keep your cool and maintain a sense of calm (and even anticipation!) in your home.
Tackle your home projects
Have you been putting off that home improvement project? Is your garden ready for harvesting? How about some deep cleaning? So many neglected things can be planned to take place during your Sabbath Week!
Shorter summers mean less boredom
Am I the only mom who hears “I’m bored” during the long and lazy summer months? With a six week summer you can plan fun outings and family adventures while taking an extended time off of homeschooling…but not too extended. Longer summers have never been our friend. My children seem to forget everything they just learned in any period longer than six weeks. It’s long enough to feel like a full summer, but short enough to prevent boredom and memory lapse.
Flexible schooling and breaks
You can plan around your spouse’s vacation time by moving around your Sabbath Week, like we do for Thanksgiving and Easter below. If someone gets sick and you take a few days off, make that your Sabbath Week (you may hear some whining about that, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do). If you don’t have attendance requirements, you can just write off your sick days too! In our schedule below our homeschool days come out to 183, so if you use this as a guide and you have to follow attendance requirements, then you have 3 days you can write off anyhow.
Sabbath Schooling can truly make so much difference in the demeanor of your homeschool. If you have been a victim of homeschool burnout in the past, you should consider giving it a try.
An example of how Sabbath Schooling will look for our upcoming 2020-2021 school year:
- School starts 8/10/20 = homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week 9/21/20 through 09/25/20
- School resumes 9/28/20 and continues for 8 weeks (to adjust the schedule for Thanksgiving) = homeschool for 40 days
- Sabbath week 11/23/20 & December break
- School resumes 1/4/21 =homeschool for 30 days
- Sabbath week 2/15/21 through 2/19/21
- School resumes 2/22/21 = homeschool for 25 days
- Sabbath week/spring break (adjusted to take off Easter week) 3/29/21 through 4/2/21
- School resumes 4/5/21 = homeschool for 35 days (because we shortened the last session to accommodate Easter)
- Sabbath week 5/24/21 through 5/28/21 (this is my birthday week!)
- Alternately you could take the following week off if you prefer not to do school on Memorial Day OR just take off Memorial Day as well!
- School resumes 5/31/21 and ends on 6/30/21 = homeschool for 23 days
- Summer break starts 7/1/21
This schedule will result in 183 days of scheduled homschool, 5 planned whole weeks off, the month of December off, Easter week being your spring break, and completing your homeschool year just in time for the Fourth of July! If you take Memorial Day off then you still fit in a whole school year.
I like having a few extra days “scheduled” because there will no doubt be illness, vacations, as well as “I don’t feel like doing school today” days. I hope that this method of homeschooling brings joy back to your homeschool!
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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