The Burnout Busting Guide to Year-Round Homeschool {www.boldlytanya.com}

Burnout is my secret talent. I do it really well. Not intentionally, mind you, but consistently.

I habitually throw myself into things, whole-heartedly giving my all until there is nothing left to give. Inevitably, my nothing left to give point comes well before the finish. Instead of pacing myself, I sprint from the second I hear the gun.

But homeschool is a marathon. There is no place for a sprinter in this race.

From the moment we decided to do this, I knew I needed a failsafe to combat my inclinations. The answer came in an unorthodox form: year-round homeschool.

By the numbers, we need 180 days or 36 weeks of school each year.  This time easily splits into six six-week chunks. That leaves 16 weeks off. We wanted a bigger break in the summer and around Christmas. So we planned on two six-week breaks during those times. Then, only four weeks remained, which happened to fit in nicely after the four remaining six-week periods. (Does this make sense to anyone but me?)

This six-week system fits into the calendar like magic. Start counting from the first Monday after the Fourth of July. Count six Mondays and mark the next as a break week. Do that twice.

Now, count off the third six-week sessions, but this time, count off six weeks for our break (vice the one week like before). Typically, this takes us to the Friday before Thanksgiving. So, our time off begins the week of Thanksgiving and goes through New Year’s Day. (Holiday’s off? Yes, please!)

Now, starting on the Monday after January 1st, repeat the same pattern as before, counting Mondays and marking break weeks. This time, after three six-weeks sessions, you should land somewhere toward the early end of May. That marks the end of the school year for us.

Here’s a breakdown:

Six weeks of school. (Beginning the first Monday after July 4.)

One week off.

Six weeks of school.

One week off.

Six weeks of school.

Six weeks off.  (Winter Break)

Six weeks of school. (Beginning the first Monday after January 1.)

One week off.

Six weeks of school.

One week off.

Six weeks of school.

Six weeks off. (Summer Break)

This system is easily modified to accommodate your needs. For example, we vacationed to California this summer, but Husband’s time off wasn’t conducive to our school schedule, so we broke up our summer break, taking three weeks off, doing six weeks of school starting in June, and then taking another three weeks off for our vacation. Then we resumed our normal schedule in August.

Keys to making this year-round schedule work

There are some hard and fast rules I follow to make this work for us.

1. No school on break week*

We observe sabbath every week, utilizing Sunday as a rest day. But we also use break week as a true break from school. This means no planning, no grading, no catching up, no math drills, no science projects, no required reading, no recitation. Nothing school related.

Instead, we focus on tasks we typically sacrifice for school. Disclaimer: we will spend Monday in our jammies watching movies, eating junk food, and doing nothing. But the rest of the week, we do constructive things. We spend a day deep cleaning, and another going somewhere fun. We try to squeeze in various check-ups or take the car to be serviced. Anything is fair game as long as it has nothing to do with school.

*This rule doesn’t apply to the six-week breaks. That is when I do most of my planning, and the kids do a few easy things to reinforce what we have learned.

2. Plan three sessions (at least) at a time.

When the school year starts, I have scheduled all lessons and assignments for each child for at least the next three six-week sessions, if not the entire year. There are three main reasons. First, I’m a sprinter. It is in my nature. Second, I do not plan lessons during our break weeks. Third, I need to see what we have to do.

Of course, I cannot predict everything and I amend the schedule as needed while we are in the thick of things. Sometimes, I completely scrap classes or curriculum and change things up mid-stride. But I like having an idea of what we need to do, and I like to get planning over with so it isn’t lurking out there waiting to pounce.

3. Front load the schedule

We complete most of our work on Monday and reserve Friday for tests and quizzes only. The workload tapers as the week continues. This provides built-in wiggle room for sick days or whatever life throws at us. Also, it helps us relax. Stress doesn’t have to build because we know the week will get progressively easier.

Similarly, most of our curriculum supports a 30-34 week schedule. But we do not stretch it out to accommodate 36 weeks. We work straight through as designed during our scheduled sessions and leave the extra time at the end of the school year as a buffer to compensate for anything unforeseen. So, at the beginning of the year, there may be nothing scheduled for the last week of school, but having that cushion is essential for flexibility.

4. No other breaks

We don’t take time off for Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Lincoln’s Birthday or any other holiday not falling during a break. The only way our schedule works is by sticking to it. That means we still plug through on days other people have off. We will find ways to observe the holidays that are important to us, without sacrificing a school day.

5. Do not do everything every day

We do something every day, but not everything every day. There are subjects we only do a few days per week. There are some subjects that we touch on every day, but we don’t do entire assignments. We may do reading one day and the worksheets the next, or we may just do flash cards instead of a full-blown lesson.  Make sense?


Honestly, we could not manage homeschool without the ease of this schedule. The built-in breaks are vital to fighting burn out. They serve as a reset button, allow us to pause, breathe, reflect, and then move forward.

 

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