It might seem intimidating to plan an entire year all at once. Trust me, I get it. It’s hard to plan something two weeks from now, let alone twelve whole months, but hear me out.
When you are homeschooling, you need to have a homeschool calendar for the year. You need to have your year mapped out in a general way so that you know you’re making forward progress.
It’s also even more important if you live in a state that requires a certain number of days of “school”.
You do not need to be married to your calendar. You can be flexible and move days around. But you do need a general map of your year, and that’s what we’ll be creating today.
6 Simple Steps to Creating Your Yearly Homeschool Calendar
Consider Your State Homeschooling Requirements
This is the very first thing that you should do. Every state is different, I’m not an expert at all, and I’m also not a lawyer. (Though, I definitely know what “malum in se” and “malum prohibitum” are because I have an unhealthy Legally Blonde obsession.. Moving on.
Each state has it’s own unique homeschool laws, and it’s really important to follow them. They may dictate things like:
- How many days you must homeschool
- How many hours you must homeschool
- How many hours each subject must be taught
- What subjects must be taught
- What months count as a school year
Obviously, the way your state laws are written will dictate how you schedule out your homeschool year. If they state that a “school year” must be September-June, you may not be able to school year round, even if you want to.
Consider Your Family’s Lifestyle
This is a big one. You know your kids, and you know yourself, and you know your family’s typical rhythm.
Do you like to take long summer vacations to spend every day at the pool? Year-round schooling isn’t for you, and your goal should be to end as early as possible.
Is it incredibly hot in your state during summer, so you can’t go outside to play anyways? Maybe you want to take extended spring breaks and work through summer.
Are holidays your favorite thing? Maybe decide to take off Thanksgiving-New Year every year.
The point right now is to think through your family’s natural rhythms and what times you definitely want off versus what times you know you’ll want to be working. Then we get to the next step..
Choose a Rough Homeschool Schedule
This is where you pick a rough homeschool schedule for your year.
Some popular examples are to follow the public school year of August/September to May/June, year round schooling, or “Sabbath schooling” which is doing school for six weeks and then taking a week off.
Pick whichever option you think will fit your family best and fits within your state’s homeschool laws.
For us, we school almost year round. We typically start the first week of August and we end whenever we end, though we do try to finish up by July. I’ve even been known to decide we’re done with our books at the end of June while there’s still a few lessons left.
We also typically take a long break for the holidays, and we take random days off throughout the year.
Mark Out Your Family’s Holidays
Now you’re getting into the nitty gritty. You need to mark off holidays to take off. This may have been done a bit in the last section, especially if you take long holiday breaks. But there are more holidays than just Christmas (shocking, I know!).
Think about all of those Monday school holidays, will you take them off or keep schooling? Consider whether you have public school neighbor friends who will be knocking at the door to try and play!
Do you want to school on birthdays or take the day off?
You have complete control over how your homeschool handles the holidays.
Add in Catch-Up Days
This, my friend, is non-negotiable.
Every homeschooling mama needs some catch-up days. I like to add a catch-up day into at least every month, but I also build mini-catch up days into every week.
Why do you need catch-up days?
- Because there will be days that your kids refuse to get lessons done.
- Because there will be days you’re too sick/exhausted/whatever to get lessons done.
- Because there will be science experiments that take too long to get the rest of lessons done.
- Because sometimes you’ll have to take time off to focus on a heart issue.
- Because if you have it and you don’t need to catch up on homeschool, you can catch up on laundry. Or Netflix.
- Because sanity is important as a homeschool mom, and catch up days give us our sanity.
Do I have you convinced? Good. You absolutely need to add catch up days to your homeschool schedule. Period.
Reviewing Your Homeschool Year Calendar
This part is really important. We’ve focused a lot on marking off the days that you won’t school. That’s really important, but it’s also important to see how much you are schooling.
Again, keep in mind how many days you’re required to “do school” in your state. For me? I need 180 days.
(Well, technically I don’t have to do anything until the boys are eight, but I’m getting in the habit early!)
Because we need 180 days, I like to have 200 days on my schedule. Why? Because life happens a lot as a work at home mom with chronic migraines and four tiny humans 6 and under.
Make sure that you have enough days scheduled to meet your state’s requirements (with a buffer!), and then call it good.
You’ve officially mapped out your homeschool year calendar, and you’re getting closer to the end of back to homeschool prep!