So, we are officially done with this past school year. Those of you August-to-May homeschoolers among you are undoubtedly horrified. :) But we do homeschool year-round. It started off by accident. The first year, we pulled Maria out of "real school" half way through the school year. I was working full-time and planning a June wedding, so things ran into well into the summer. The second year we moved in October and purchased, some would say unwisely, a fixer-upper. I also became pregnant that January and spent the first trimester teaching between naps on the couch. So we ran well into the summer. The third year, also in October, Jack was born. And again,,,we ran into summer. The fourth year, which was this past year, I thought, "Why am I trying to fit school into the whole 'August-to-May' thing again?" So, I didn't. And it has been a good fit. Here's our benefits to schooling this way...
---Learning becomes a lifestyle, not something we take big breaks from. Even during our shorter breaks we continue to read, add to our timelines and nature journals, write, craft...and the kids learn not to blink and eye when their mom declares a "beaver unit study" and say "Mom, there's no school during summer!" (Maria did this kind of thing the first three years of homeschooling anytime she smelled me drumming up a "learning opportunity".)
--It lets us plan our school year around the liturgical year. We can celebrate the church year to it's fullest when we have plenty of time off around Christmas and Easter, as well as take the day off for smaller feasts.
--It let's us enjoy nature more as well. Summer in Arkansas is yuck. It's hot and humid and we probably spend as much time indoors during the summer as yankees spend indoors during the winter. It gets so hot and humid and miserable that the kids sit inside and complain about being bored far more often than they do in the winter. Many winter days are suitable for going on a day hike, exploring a nearby cave, or going to the zoo. Fall and spring are mild and beautiful...outdoor learning prime-time. Why waste them all inside?
--It let's me plan around family events with more flexibility...like that move, that pregnancy, that birth, ill and hospitalized extended family, deaths in the family, and visits to family that live out of state...not to mention the stretches in January where everyone has the flu one after another and no one is well for three weeks.
So, we have our own calendar. We start our school year in September. Labor Day is in fact our first day of school. Weird, I know, but it's a "fun day"...we pile up all our cool new books and fun supplies, look through them, do some fun activities that I'm sure I'll be describing here in a few weeks, and then go to Chuck E. Cheese for our "not going back to school party". The next day starts our school year for real. I aim to get through 12 weeks of our syllabus. We have school 3-5 days a week. The syllabus plans 4 days a week, 32 weeks a year, but we just do them as we get to them. It's usually four, but sometimes it's an odd week. Depending on illness, field trips, co-op days, Holy Days, and various unplanned factors, we stop in early to mid December and take off until after Epiphany.
We start up again the second week in January and school anywhere from 10-13 more weeks are so depending on where Easter falls that year. This time seems to be a bit slower-paced than the fall activity-wise, but it's also the most likely time to lose kids to illness for several days at a time. In any case, we stop by holy week at the very latest...preferably a week earlier to leave time for spring cleaning chores. We take four weeks off, no matter what. We are usually feeling fried and need a long break by then. Then we pick back up and finish up our school year for as long as it takes, or until the end of July, whichever comes first. The spring is usually pretty busy with activities, but then when May comes things slow down again and we can lay heavy on the books and finish up.
So, that was our plan last year. And it's our plan for the coming year. I have received my pretty new planner in the mail and mapped out our plan for the year. We have our books and syllabi and we are ready to start....well, kind of. I mean, we *could* start, but I have a lot of organizing to do in the school room and some things to set up for Jack before September comes...