I usually start planning our next school year early in the spring. I’m just one of those Type-A homeschool moms who gets a thrill out of the planning part. (Until reality sets in, of course, that I cannot do ALL of things I want to. Then, I start scaling back and thinking about my actual daily energy levels and how many hours are actually in a day.) Texas does not have any requirements about number of days or hours for homeschoolers. We are completely on our own, but in a good way. I have met moms who do not have an official start date or end date, they just keep going and take breaks when they feel like it. I wish I could relate. I need a start date. I need an end date. I need structure and calendars with little boxes to check off and little lines to fill in. Like I said, Type-A.
My yearly calendar planning process is pretty simple. I find a yearly overview calendar online. I print off a few copies. I pick a start date, usually in July or early August, and then count forward 32-36 weeks, and add in breaks for a fall trip, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a spring break. With a ninth grader this year and trying a new all-day co-op for the first time, I selected a 36 week school year to give us plenty of time to get through the courses. Pencil works best at first for selecting these dates, but once I have decided, out come the highlighters. Here is what my plan for next year looked like earlier this week:
This week I created a form to list out our curriculum choices for each course and divide up the lessons by number of days per week to determine how many weeks we NEED for each. I did a sheet for the courses we will do together, such as Bible and PE. I also made individual pages for each child. Here is an example of one of the pages, classes we will do together:
After getting it all on paper, I determined we need at least 34 weeks to get to complete all of the lessons. Therefore, I am pretty confident that a 35-36 week calendar will allow us plenty of extra days for field trips and outings, four 9 week quarters. I may move the spring break so that we can plan a trip during a different month. (We do not go on trips during official spring break or summer breaks to avoid crowds. It is one of my favorite homeschooling perks!)
Now, I am trying to decide between August 2 and August 9 for a start date this year. Is an extra week of summer going to make much difference? Will starting sooner ensure we can get our trip scheduled when we want? Do we really need two weeks for field trips and extra days? It is these type of decisions that drive me crazy and make me wish I was a little more “go-with-the-flow” type of mom. Which brings me to a final point, that the end result of this process is a plan. Not a promised outcome, but a proposed overview of days that we will “do school”.
Next up, planning our our daily schedule!