My first couple of years as a homeschooler, I decided I would follow the public school schedule. We started the same day the public schools started, took our vacations when they did, and ended when they did.
I started out so excited on that first day of school but ended up miserable! The children were cranky. They had forgotten things from the previous year, and it was too hot in the afternoon to send them outside. I was super stressed and did not get half as much accomplished as I thought I would. I wanted our school year to start out great, not with everyone in tears, so I decided I needed to find a better way.
Set Your Own Schedule
My first big realization was that we didn’t have to mimic what the public school did. In our state we have no regulations on how many days we need to school or how long each homeschool day needs to be. Homeschooling gave me the freedom to tailor the curriculum to the child, so surely it could give me the freedom to tailor the schedule to the family! We moved to a four-day per week schedule and started to school year round. I chose a lighter schedule in the summer, working about an hour per day on core skills such as reading and math and some fun hands on activities. Our regular curriculum would start in August and end in May, and we took several breaks throughout the year.
Ease Into That Schedule
Instead of jumping right in to a full schedule for the new year, I decided we would start easing in and gradually work back up to our 3 -3 ½ hours of school a day a little at a time. It is still pretty hot when we start our school year, so we spend the first few weeks outdoors in the morning and start back to homeschool with afternoon classes.
The first week we start with math and do one assignment each day. Week two we continue with math and add in reading and spelling. Week 3 we continue on with math, reading, and spelling and add in writing and grammar. Starting in week 4 we add in our morning school work, starting with P.E., Bible, and a family read aloud. By week 5, we are at a full schedule with history and science on alternating days, art once a week, and all of our afternoon classes in full swing.
Changing our schedule and easing into the new homeschool year has worked out so much better for our family. The children aren’t shell shocked from the transition of no school at all one day to a full school day the next. It makes it much easier for me to make the adjustment as well and make changes to my expectations as needed. Rather than dreading the first day of school, we enjoy it and look forward to adding in new things each week. It also helps us end our regular curriculum each year a little more smoothly. Instead of rushing to get everything finished by a certain day, we finish our subjects gradually and have more time to get things done if we fall behind during the year.
Homeschooling should be a joy and not a chore. If starting back to homeschool is stressful for you or your children, think about making adjustments to your schedule or easing back into it a little at a time.