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A Stress-Free Approach to Scheduling Your Homeschool Year

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If you homeschool, you’ve probably fallen behind at some point. If you’re a working-from-home homeschool mom like me, you’ve probably fallen way behind. Seriously behind. The kind of behind that makes you want to cry, hide, and panic. Not necessarily in that order. My first year of falling behind it was due to three bad rounds of the flu in a row.  It bothered me so much that I had books propped up next to my kids’ sick beds, “just in case” they felt like picking one up (they didn’t).

The second year that we fell way behind, it was due to pregnancy. I felt like a failure when everyone else was finishing school at the end of May and we still had a whopping 9 weeks left. I call that year, “year-round-school by accident.” It was a year of school without the awesome breaks we get when we intentionally take the whole year to complete school. It was also the summer of, “Mommy, can we go to the community pool?” “Sweetie, Mommy messed up our school year. Don’t you want to do math instead?”

Needless to say that wasn’t a fun summer. What I wanted to do was channel Scarlett O’Hara and dramatically declare, “Tomorrow is another day!” and pretend we weren’t having such a hard time keeping up. What I needed to do was realize that life happens, and year-round school is a necessity for our family.

The way I plan our school year might drive some moms crazy, and might have some of them singing The Hallelujah Chorus: I only plan my school year one month at a time.

Kind of crazy, right? I love my planner, I love scheduling, and I love having everything planned in advance. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that life with four kids can be too crazy to plan way ahead.  So I plan general ideas instead: 3-4 weeks off in December, the entire month of July, and then 6 or 8 weeks as-needed.

This means that we buckle down and work until we need a break. Or we work until someone gets sick. Or we work until we have a trip scheduled, or something fun to do. Regardless, we more than complete our state requirements, and planning one month at a time means that I have ZERO stress about falling behind, or not staying on schedule.

Of course, it takes effort to make sure that we are actually working and accomplishing school when we are able. And sometimes we have other things to stick on the calendar (like the week I had all of the kids in the dentist on different days) that end up meaning a whole week off. But staying focused when we need to, and taking much needed breaks when we need to, ensures that we will finish school sometime in the month of June every year.

Year-round-school has saved my sanity. No joke. When the kids get sick, we take time off so they can get better! In the impossible month of December (anyone else have a hard time getting school done during the holidays?) we take the whole month off. When Daddy gets the chance to surprise us with a special trip or project, I can be enthusiastic, knowing that we will not fall behind at all! I’ve found tons of benefits of schooling year-round. For one thing, we don’t burn out as easily. We get to take days off for great weather, and schedule school for bad weather when we’d rather be inside. We don’t have a summer loss of listening skills. We don’t have to review as much because we’re not taking a huge three-month block of time off. We are also able to be home doing school when traditional schools are out; meaning less crowds and hassle.

On the flip side, that means we also get to be out and about when parks and other fun places are virtually empty. Do you school year-round, or take summer months off? Have you found a way to eliminate homeschool stress?


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  1. I can’t plan way ahead-tight rigid schedules makes me stressed, lol. Like you, I like to plan for a few weeks at a time but leave some wiggle room for the unexpected. We school year round, taking chunks of time off when the weather is best here in Minnesota. Thanks for sharing. ~Blessings~

  2. What a great suggestion, thank you for writing this post! I stress when I have my year all planned out and life happens. We are moving to a more year-round schedule starting this June. I am already feeling better about it. 😉

  3. I have had my kids, now almost nine, experience (unwillingly to a degree) the whole gamut of learning environments: private school with very few kids per class, homeschooling (one year), and now public school. All I have to say is I admire their easiness in adapting to anything new.
    Now, we live in the sate of NY. The one year I home-schooled, my biggest source of stress stemmed from two sources: regulations and paperwork, on the one hand, and on the other, my inability to balance schooling and work. I wish I didn’t need to seek to provide an income to supplement my husband’s but that’s not realistic right now. However, I’m hopeful and pray I can go back to do it next year…
    How do I reconcile homeschooling year round with the type of reports I must submit annually to the state?

    1. Hi Nilsa! I have to say I’ve never lived in a state that requires reporting like that. I do know other families who submit their hours and “final grade” for the school year when the state requires, even though they aren’t quite done. You could also plan to start your school year a full year before the report is due. I definitely understand the struggle of working at home and homeschooling – we are relying on the small income generated by this blog, which means I get up at 4am and work until 9am, then work again during the kids’ nap time and on weekends. I am working towards at least cutting down a few hours a day, though, so I can get more sleep!

      I hope you get to make school choices that benefit your family the most. ❤️ I do recommend Plan Your Year at pambarnhill.com – it helped me to organize our school year and reporting for a lot less stress!

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