After the last homeschooling post, you may be wondering why we’ve already chosen curriculum for next year when it’s only January. Do you really need to get it figured out 8 months ahead of time? Well, there are a couple of reasons we’re looking at choices now. The first is that since every curriculum is different, there will be pieces (especially in math) that we may not have worked on with our current curriculum but were already covered in the 1st grade level of the new. This means we’ll need to add those concepts in to what we’re currently working on. The second is that we hope to switch to a year-round model, which means that we’ll be starting the new school year in the middle of July.
WAIT. You’re going to do school all year? Well, no. We won’t be spending 52 weeks on school work. There are a lot of different reasons people choose to school year round, and a lot of different ways to make it work. By doing 3 days of lessons each week instead of 5, some do spread 36 weeks worth of work out over 52 weeks . Others choose to work through the summer so they can place their “summer vacation” in the fall, when the weather is more conducive to outdoor time and travel is cheaper. Another family may use a year round option to take an extended break around Thanksgiving/Christmas, allowing for a more relaxing holiday season.
Our plan is to work on a 6/1 week schedule, with 6 weeks of school followed by a one week break. The length of each term may vary from about 5-8 weeks, but the general idea is that a six week period is short enough to avoid burnout, but long enough to cover a decent amount of material. A “rest week” gives a kid who may have been struggling with a particular concept some time to take a step back and hopefully return to it without the stress and anxiety they may have been feeling. That same rest week will give Mom (and Dad!) a chance to catch up on the little things that tend to pile up when a large portion of your day is devoted to school. (Things like cleaning under all the beds, organizing the kitchen cabinets, cleaning out the basement. Or maybe catching up on a book, or planning a day trip.)
Another reason to use a 6/1 schedule is that homesteading can be a sort of “boom and bust” cycle. Early spring is going to be very busy, with babies being born and a new garden to establish, while late spring and early summer bring jam making sessions. The rest of summer should be less hectic, with just general weeding and barn chores needing attention. Then in the fall, there will be harvesting and canning, both from our garden and apple picking. And winter, with the exception of busyness around the holidays, is much more relaxed. Instead of frantically cramming in school work during busy times, we can use our ‘break weeks’ to enjoy the process of putting in gardens, putting up preserves, and playing with baby animals!
The theory of this type of scheduling is that it helps to eliminate the feeling of always trying to play catch-up. We haven’t tested it out for ourselves yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!