There are so many different ways we can approach homeschooling. Beyond picking out methods or curriculum, there is also a matter of the scheduling. The three most common yearly homeschool schedule types are traditional, Sabbath, and year-round.
But once again, the wonderful thing is that we are free to choose what best fits our families’ needs at any particular time. And we can even try them all! I have used all three approaches so far in our journey and have found each to have its positive and negative points. But having tried them all, I also have a clear favorite. At least for me.
Here is a breakdown of my pros and cons. And in which order, I prefer these yearly homeschool schedule types.
What I call traditional is, in fact, the schedule used by schools. This is often the schedule adopted by first-time homeschoolers. (I’m raising my hand on this one. Anyone else?) It follows the typical 5 day week. Usually, there are lessons both in the morning and the afternoon though times may differ.
In my case, I had originally decided on the following the French school system’s schedule because of our inspection.
Since I was unsure how we would be judged, I decided to stick as close to the typical system as possible. To show them we were serious about our children’s education.
- You are able to get a lot of things done in the day.
- If you do have regulations to follow, it is easy to document.
- It is easily regimented.
- The responsibilities of school are clearly labeled apart from regular home life.
- It is restrictive.
- There isn’t room for much spontaneity.
- It is aggressive for the attention span of the child.
- The school year itself has periods of intense work followed by long breaks with no learning.
- It associates learning with set times of the day, week, and year.
Following the traditional schedule can be helpful in some instances. However, overall, it is not very conducive to learning in children (or adults for that matter).
It is too restrictive in some senses with days that are too long for most children. And though it allows for breaks in learning, it is uneven. Having stretches of up to two months of school every day followed by nothing for two months, learning is not cohesive. It creates an unnatural ebb and flow of knowledge. And makes it difficult for smooth growth in learning.
If you are unfamiliar with this type of schedule, it basically follows the typical Sabbath week. Instead of 6 days of work and one day of rest, there are 6 weeks of school and 1 week of rest.
I used this for a short while after traditional schooling proved too aggressive for my daughter. She got tired quickly and bored with school to the point where it was a fight to get her to work and stay focused. This plan allowed for frequent rest which helped keep her on track.
- It is easy to document.
- It is easy to regulate.
- The responsibilities of school are kept separate from home.
- There is plenty of time for rest.
- It is pretty flexible (can be used year-round or with longer breaks for summer and winter).
- It is still restrictive enough to hinder spontaneity in learning.
- The schedule still associates learning with set times of the day, week, and year.
- It doesn’t always work with family schedules.
- Some children or some seasons of life do not work for this schedule.
This is my favorite of the yearly homeschool schedule types. In theory. However, it did not really work for us. The children’s weekly activities follow the traditional French school system. We would often find ourselves in a rest week but unable to use it properly because they still had their daily after-school activities to attend.
Because my husband works for the French school system, he would often be on vacation the weeks we were schooling and vice versa. It is mainly for this reason that we stopped the sabbath schedule after only a few months.
This is kind of my own invention. At least, I’ve never heard it used before. Basically, though I follow the Charlotte Mason method and have a set schedule for their lessons, we tend to go with the flow of the day or week.
What I mean is that I schedule our school year to start at the end of August following the Ambleside Online 36-week schedule. However, I take into consideration the vacations of the French school system and our own family needs.
Sometimes we will work half-time during vacations, sometimes not at all. We are free to take a week off from work if something comes up and we need to focus on another part of our life. But even on an “off” week, we may still do some schoolwork.
I don’t plan on finishing their 36-week schedule at the usual time in spring. Instead, we finish when it works for us. Sometimes that is in spring, sometimes not until late summer. Sometimes we bring the schoolwork on into the next year.
- There is absolute freedom in the school day.
- We don’t feel guilty if we “get off track.”
- They associate learning with everyday life.
- There are no long breaks between learning sessions when the kids can forget their lessons.
- Fits better with our lifestyle.
- You have to be intentional with the freedom. There is a tendency to neglect all schooling if you don’t pay attention.
- The children still like to have routines. It can be hard to find a balance between routine and freedom.
- It is not easily documented for state regulations.
- Responsibilities are not easily defined.
At this time in our life, with young kids not yet of school age, this type of schedule makes sense for us. We are planning on a major change in the coming months and need the ability to focus more on that at times.
However, it still allows us to impress on the kids that learning is important. And it keeps them focused on their studies periodically. Contrary to how it sounds, we still want them to learn responsibility. It is important to know how to adapt our lives to fit the things we must do with those things that we want.
It allows me to follow a schedule while fitting it into our priorities. And it teaches the kids that learning can happen anywhere, at any time.
One of the most wonderful aspects of homeschooling is its freedom. Each family has the ability to choose for itself the method, the subjects, the curriculum, and even the scheduling. But it is also this very freedom that can be overwhelming. The trick is knowing which one works best for your needs.
But we must also realize that just because one way works at the moment, it may not always. We need to be ready and willing to adapt and change.
We just need the courage to try. And if you other yearly homeschool schedule types, I would love to hear about them.