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Getting Started in Homeschooling: Building Your Academic Calendar
Posted By Jessica Fisher On August 2, 2011 @ 12:51 pm In Homeschooling | 10 Comments
Years ago at an education conference, a homeschool attorney shared some of the basics to record keeping. I really appreciated his straightforward approach:
While you need to know what your state laws require , the basics as he outlined them are helpful even if you are required to do more or less, depending on your situation.
So, as part of my back-to-school routine, I create an academic calendar. One of the beauties of teaching my children at home is that I get to set the calendar. Our family can work our school around my husband’s work schedule, family events, and other activities in our life.
Here is how I go about it:
You can do this through a number of desktop publishing programs, like Publisher, or you can print the one available in my Homeschool Planning Pack . But, basically, you want a year at a glance, starting with August and ending sometime the following year.
For our family, we consider which days my husband has off from work. We designate those days as true vacation days or field trip days, depending on the season. I also keep in mind birthdays — no one has to do school on his birthday, not even me. So, we cross those off the list.
There are a number of factors to work into this as well as any number of combinations and theories. Simple Homeschool  presents a huge variety of ideas for creating a homeschool schedule and FiveJs shares about schooling year-round  and taking a low-stress approach. 
I don’t mean to hammer this, but if your state regulates the number of days of instruction, it’s good to follow that. See HSLDA for the legal analysis  of what your state requires.
I’ve always been of the mindset that I want my kids outside when the weather is nice. Let’s do school when it’s too cold or too hot to be outside. Snow days were never an impediment to their education when we lived in snow country.
If you have kids starting sports or lessons on a schedule that is not of your making, you’re going to need to accommodate those. No heading off on a vacation in the middle of hockey season. Keep in mind the schedules set by the other activities you’re involved in.
Last year I attempted the 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule , but that didn’t really happen after the first 6 weeks. And when I look back at the last few years, I start out with a creative scheme and then we drift into the same patterns. Why fight it? I want the summers free to play and I don’t mind having a more traditional schedule during the year.
So, our schedule this year:
That said, I also have a husband who embraces the flexibility of homeschooling and gets creative about taking vacations with a week’s notice. I’ve also learned to move things around mid-year if we decide to go to the beach or the mountains. We learn everywhere we go — and we tack on some extra days at the end of the year.
You can’t predict when illness or high stress times will strike, so it’s also important to give yourself some margin, and be willing to adjust the calendar to fit those days.
No matter how you build your calendar, it’s good to have one — and it’s good to be flexible when you need to be.
About this series - If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling , this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – Tooling Up .
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URL to article: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/08/getting-started-in-homeschooling-building-your-academic-calendar.html
URLs in this post:
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 what your state laws require: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/07/getting-started-in-homeschooling-knowing-the-laws-in-your-state.html
 Homeschool Planning Pack: http://lifeasmom.com/organizing-life-as-mom-redesigned-and-updated-ebook
 Simple Homeschool: http://simplehomeschool.net/creating-a-homeschool-schedule/
 schooling year-round: http://fivejs.com/switching-to-an-almost-year-round-homeschool-calendar/
 taking a low-stress approach.: http://fivejs.com/scheduling-a-low-stress-school-calendar/
 HSLDA for the legal analysis: http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp
 I attempted the 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/08/back-to-school-planning-for-a-homeschool-mom.html
 getting started in homeschooling: http://lifeasmom.com/features/getting-started-in-homeschooling
 Tooling Up: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/08/getting-started-in-homeschooling-tools-to-use.html
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