What to Do; What to Do?

Apple FarmsI am not one to procrastinate. In fact, I am probably the exact opposite of a procrastinator. I tend to work years into the future, if at all possible. Why wait, right? During this holiday break I find myself in the same position. Is this year’s routine working for us? Should we change things up next year?

I think most of my pondering is due to, what seems like, a long pull of learning between August and November with no breaks except for weekends. I have been inspired by other home schoolers and bloggers to perhaps rethink our methods.

Although our children have never set foot in a public school classroom, I have noticed I tend to build our yearly schedule around the local school system. This helps with their non-home school friends being able to visit and keeps me aware of when police and social workers (hey, you never know) might be on the lookout for truancy.

Recently, I have begun to wonder why. Why do we do this? We don’t have many friends in the system and working around that would be easy enough. We never take the summer off, so why do we stick to the system’s routine?

This year we were a little brave and planned three weeks for our Christmas break. While we have yet to get there, I can already tell this is going to be a positive move on our part. This leads me to believe that perhaps a few more changes might be beneficial in next year’s schedule.

California Science Center

To start with, I think we are going to begin our “year” a little early; by a week at least. This will allow us to take a week off between our first and second quarter. Second quarter will run until Thanksgiving, we will take a week off, and then finish up the remaining weeks before Christmas break. Christmas break will mark the end of first semester. Second semester might be more of the same. We would do third quarter, take a week off, school fourth quarter for six weeks, take Easter break, and then finish the school year.

My biggest internal debate right now is the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. Would it be more beneficial to start our year even earlier and once Thanksgiving comes have the remainder of the year “off” (not doing book work, but learning through other means) or is that too long a break from things like algebra, which need constant refreshers?Β Perhaps we could just do a one day session of “speed drills”, per week, to keep them up to pace during the break. This would clear up our routine, but also keep them at the ready.

Hmmm… See my dilemma? (Okay, so it’s not really a dilemma; more of a puzzle.)

No decisions have been made quite yet, except for starting at least two weeks earlier for our mid-semester breaks. The rest is up for grabs at this point; lots of thinking and prayer still need to be done. At least by starting early, I have plenty of time to work it out.

How do you handle the holidays with learning? Do you take off from Thanksgiving to the New Year or do you take a Thanksgiving break and resume school for a few weeks before Christmas break?

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18 thoughts on “What to Do; What to Do?

  1. This is our first year, so we’re playing it by ear. But we’ve already said we’ll be HSing year round to allow for many breaks and HS lite weeks. Like this week was half HS lite and half off. I think having a whole summer off is unnecessary and doesn’t allow for enough breaks through out the rest of the year. We probably will have a big break or more breaks and HS lite weeks during the summer so they can play with their public school friends though. We’ll probably be doing a good bit of HS lite days around Christmas for sure. Meaning reading time, their extra math stuff they do on line, any memorization stuff they’re working on, art stuff, piano, that sort of thing. No workbooks pretty much.

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    • Essentially we DO homeschool all year round, but change up our routine for the summer; we all prefer it that way.

      However, for PSP purposes, I need to file paperwork with a certain number of school days listed. So, I am trying to find a comfortable balance between the two. Growing up in the system, I got set in a certain pattern. I think it might be time to break that just a little bit. πŸ™‚

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  2. Great Post! We HS all year round and take breaks when it fits our schedule. We started with a very strict schedule and that was just too stressful. My daughter is off when my wife is off so that they can have maximum time together. Since my wife has different days off every week we just rotate my daughters days off to match.

    We make gifts for each other on holidays and the week or two before any holiday date we are watching how to videos and crafting. By homeschooling all year round with no large breaks we have the flexibility to take a day (or 3 or 6) off with no stress attached. We have been Homeschooling for 9 years and for the last 4 years we have been able to do more work than the law demands and have more time off than our Public school counterparts. I hope this helps someone.

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  3. Last year we had a “Christmas Term” which was wonderful! We kept the Latin, Math and Science (on a slightly relaxed schedule), but I put AO history and lit on hold, and we read Dickens, Van Dyke, O Henry, and a few others, and focused on Christmas poetry, music, baking, and gift making. We will do the same this year. There are so many beautiful paintings, poems, stories and music that celebrate the immanence of God in Christ – I consider taking time to learn about and enjoy this season to the fullest extent one of the many “perks” of homeschooling!

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  4. We homescooled around the weather. Since the winters are so beastly here – we never had school from the first of June to Labor Day in September. It just seemed too cruel to keep them indoors for even a portion of the day when the sweet summer days are so few. An entire week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks for Christmas, and one week for Easter. And when I say off – I mean really off. No “learning opportunities,” or even library trips. (I did, however, make them get dressed and make their beds) Besides that, there were no other “official” days off, like Columbus, or President’s Day. The only other time off was unscheduled for sickness or field trip.

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    • We don’t get drastic weather on the west coast, but I could see how that would be a factor elsewhere.

      I tend to only take major holiday breaks, myself. We take Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and then two short breaks during the summer. The rest of the year we are doing some form of learning, either indoor, outdoor, or field trip. Even during the summer, the kids like doing learning activities, we just change them up to be a lot of hands-on, outdoor type of activities. πŸ™‚

      I think it might be time for just a slight change in the first “semester” routine though. One week won’t break the system. (laughing)

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  5. We are “new” to the game as well. I’m very structured by nature so we tend to follow the school system for several reasons incl. ease of bi-annual review (benign as it is) and weather considerations. For the sanity of all we have a 4 day school week, leaving Fridays for field trips, getting library books, occasional tests, or loafing around. Our co-op breaks just before Thanksgiving and resumes after the New Year which frees us up to lighten the load even more during that time (our co-op meets Mondays from 9a-12p and we still do math and lang those afternoons). Looking forward to having lighter mondays for the next few weeks! Still in all I frequently toss around the idea of incorporating more breaks but I have trouble getting my boys motivated/focused after too long of a break so that is a concern for me. God bless you all who school through summer…that would be torture for us πŸ˜‰

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  6. Pingback: Repost From: The Homeschool Mom Blog Title: What to Do; What to Do? | Fading Leaf Design

  7. I think it’s good for homeschoolers to live according to their own schedule, as much as possible. So I think you should just go for it πŸ˜‰

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  8. We decided to start three weeks before the local schools this year (our first full year of home-schooling). It was SOOOO hot at the end of summer that we didn’t want to be outside anyway! That gave us lots of flexibility for the rest of year to take random time off when the weather was more to our liking. We also like planning camping trips etc. when others are in school as most places are far less crowded during those times. I love the schedule and freedom we’ve had to take extra time off during the year whenever we feel like it/need a break. I think we’ll do an abbreviated summer again next year. When I taught full time my FAVORITE schedule was called a “Modified Traditional.” We had school for 9-10 weeks then had a two week break. Summer was then 7 weeks. That’s loosely what we based our schedule on this year. It’s been wonderful.

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