We’ve tried a few different homeschooling schedules over the years but our favorite so far is 6 weeks on, 1 week off.
It’s not a new idea but it was new to me a few years ago and I’m absolutely loving it!
Depending how the details work out, it’s not always exactly 6 weeks on, but the main idea is that we take a full week off of our usual school routine every 5-7 weeks. You can see how I schedule our yearly school calendar here.
Here are the reasons it works for us:
- We easily keep pace with the required number of school days. States range from 160-186 required days of school (last time I checked). Our state doesn’t require homeschoolers to hit a certain number but some states DO require a certain number of “official” school days. Even with the full-week breaks, we can easily hit the 176-180 day mark and…
- We still have a long summer break, too! We typically do a light summer routine that includes some daily learning activities, music lessons and fun-and-educational stuff but I wouldn’t consider it year-round schooling. We take a 100% break week after our last school-day (typically the first week of June) and another break right before school starts up again (usually one of the last weeks of August) and our long summer routine/break fits in between those.
- It’s a flexible framework. It provides a schedule to keep us on track but we can always revise as needed. One fall I realized our upcoming break week was light on fun stuff and the following “school week” was overflowing with field trips and play dates – so I just pushed the break week back a week to align better with our last-minute plans.
- One week breaks are perfect for us. Don’t get me wrong… If somebody’s handing out free 1-day breaks, I’d be the first in line! But given the freedom to choose our breaks (which, as homeschoolers, we HAVE!), one week seems to be ideal for us. Single days are okay but they tend to just throw off the remainder of the week. And breaks longer than one week get toooooo looooong – my routine-loving kids and I start slipping into bad habits and it’s harder getting back into the swing of things afterwards.
- I can catch up & get ahead on school prep. I’m generally able to get a head start on school planning and prep over the summer but it doesn’t take long before I feel myself falling further and further behind. Having a break week every month and a half or so gives me a chance to catch my breath, reevaluate what we’ve done and where we’re headed, tweak our plans, and even get ahead for the next couple weeks.
- I can focus on areas that need it. If we need to (and we usually do), we can take a day just to catch up on cleaning, quality time with a friend in need, or dedicate some time to a character issue with one of the kids. Break weeks give us a chance to focus on whatever area of life might need some extra attention.
- We can have guiltless playdates with other friends who have flexible schedules or days off of traditional schools. We
hang out with friendspractice our socialization on school days, too, but sometimes I feel like I’m rushing the schoolwork to fit it all in. On break weeks we can just relax more.
- I can be super-fun mom (for a week). This comes naturally to some but, for me, it’s always been tricky finding the balance between ‘fun mom’ and ‘responsible mom’. On our weeks off I can do extra fun-mom things that sometimes get pushed aside. We bake more, do more messy art projects, design cool contraptions and do more spontaneous outings than my Type-A personality would usually be able to handle.
- I can tackle looming projects. We have big chunks of time to work with on these break weeks so we can make progress on house projects and my ever-growing to-do list.
- It’s psychologically helpful. I’ve heard this “6 weeks on, 1 week off” schedule referred to as the Sabbath Schedule since the 7th week is a rest. There’s always a break in sight – we feel motivated and energized to work hard during the 6 weeks since breaks aren’t scarce and the week-long break is long enough to be truly restful.
Overall, this schedule allows us to JUST BREATHE!
And usually, with all the teachable moments and real life lessons they get during our breaks, our weeks “off” are just as effective as our “school weeks” anyway!
I expect I’ll have to adjust our schedule as they get older – heavier workloads and online or outsourced classes may begin to dictate our schedule more than they do now. But as long as it works I’m keeping these glorious break weeks!
While the traditional public school schedule works well for some homeschoolers, don’t be afraid to tweak it or even turn it on its head to make your schedule work for you!
And, if you’re scared to make a dramatic schedule change, just take a baby step. Try the new schedule for a semester and then decide if you want to stick with it or not. Over time you can narrow down the ideal schedule for your family.
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