Whether you’re planning your homeschool calendar at the start of the calendar year or the school year, this is a great way to do it.
Creating your homeschool calendar can seem like an overwhelming task.
But it doesn’t have to be!
In this article we’ll go over four simple steps to help you create the perfectly customized homeschool calendar for your family!
We’ll do this by
- identifying holidays, vacations, birthdays, and any other reasons you may take off from school
- discussing the pros and cons of the four most common yearly homeschool calendars
- doing some mental work to help you let go of the mental need to follow a public school calendar
Free Resource Library
Before we get into specific details, I need to make sure you know about the Free Resource Library here on the Reluctant Homeschool Mama!
Inside you’ll find resources to help you organize your homeschool and enrich your kids’ education – and it is all completely FREE!
The content is password protected, so click on this link or the image below to get access to the Resource Library.
(And yes, there’s a yearly 2021 calendar page for you there!)
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you click through or purchase at no cost to you. For more information, click here.
Let’s get into the process of creating your homeschool calendar, shall we?
Choose your calendar
First (and obviously), you’ll need a yearly calendar!
I am absolutely over-the-moon about the gorgeous Spaces Planner. It is perfect for busy moms because it is so easy to customize.
Following each monthly page are weekly spreads that contain 12 boxes. Five of the boxes are labeled: personal, housework, errands, health, and relationships.
But the other 7 boxes are left completely blank so you can customize them as you need to! (You can bet that one of my blank boxes will be labeled “homeschool” every week.)
If you aren’t a planner-lover, grab any calendar where the months are large enough to make notes on individual days.
Here are a few great options:
2021 Monthly Calendar book. This one by At-a-Glance is great because it has a durable faux-leather cover, is super simplistic (no weekly pages – just the months), and lays flat.
2021 Desk Calendar. If you want a desk calendar, this one is really affordable and there are tons of pretty, decorative options.
2021 Wall Calendar. This simple calendar could end up holding a lot more info. I love that every date has a lined box to make it look neater.
Identify dates you won’t have school
The first thing you’ll want to do with your new calendar is write in important events like birthdays and other special events.
You’ll specifically want to decide what days you DON’T want to be doing homeschool.
Here are some dates you may consider marking as NO SCHOOL days on your homeschool calendar:
Our rule of thumb for holidays is to take the day off if either public school is out or my husband is home from work.
Birthdays (especially yours!)
Take advantage of the homeschool life to really celebrate the birthday girl or boy. Think special breakfasts, a fun outing, favorite books to read or movies to watch, looking at baby pictures, cake and presents etc.
Big family events
If you’re expecting a baby, about how much time do you think you’ll want to take off? Will one of your kids be getting braces in a few months and could benefit from an extra long weekend to recover? Will you be attending a big family reunion during the year?
Vacations and travel
Do you have any vacations or travel plans for the year? Remember – one huge perk of homeschooling is that you can more easily go during the off-season!
Local seasons and weather
Is there a particular time of year when the weather is especially pleasant where you live? Or on the flip side, is there a time of year that the weather is terrible?
For example, we’re in North Texas where summers are unbearably hot, but May and September are beautiful. So we do homeschool in June and July, but take off several weeks each in May and September to enjoy the beautiful weather.
Map it out
Once you’ve marked all the important dates when you don’t want to have school, map them out on a one-page year-at-a-glance calendar.
To make your life a little easier, there is a super simple Yearly Homeschool Calendar printable for you in the Reluctant Homeschool Mama Resource Library!
Four common homeschool calendar types
Now that you’ve got your days off penciled in on your Yearly Homeschool Calendar page, it’s time to decide which common homeschool calendar method you want to follow!
There are four main types of calendars that homeschool families typically follow.
1. Traditional school calendar
The traditional homeschool calendar typically follows a regular public school schedule. With a long summer break, the school year usually begins in August and ends in late May or early June.
This method is popular for many reasons and is probably the most common homeschool calendar type.
First, if you are new to homeschooling or have recently transitioned from public school, the traditional public school calendar will feel comfortable and familiar.
Also, if you aren’t homeschooling all of your kids and a few are still attending public school, this homeschool calendar method would be a good fit for your family.
One of the biggest negatives about the traditional school schedule is that it results in summer learning loss.
Summer learning loss, commonly called the summer slide, is the tendency for the majority of kids to forget some of what they learned during the school year during the summer months.
Recent studies show that kids in 3rd-5th grade forget 20% of what they learned in reading and 27% of what they learned in math during the previous school year over summer break.
2. Six weeks on/one week off
This common homeschool calendar type centers around doing 6 weeks of homeschool and then taking 1-2 weeks off.
There are several variations, such as a 4 weeks on, 1 week off, or 9 weeks on and 2 weeks off.
Many homeschool moms really like this calendar set up because it gives them built-in time to regroup and plan at regular intervals.
Also, because there is always an upcoming break to look forward to, homeschool mom burnout is less likely to take as strong of a hold as it can with other homeschool calendar methods.
The only real downside to the 6:1 homeschool calendar method is that it can take some serious discipline to start again after each break.
If you use part of the week off to plan for the next 6 weeks, hopefully your excitement for your new plans will motivate you to start school again on time!
My recommendation for using the 6:1 method would be to spend at least a few days planning for the next 6 weeks. If you plan to travel during the week off, take an extra day or two off to plan once you get home.
It can be really hard to feel motivated to homeschool right after getting home from a vacation! (Often we need a vacation from our vacation, right?!)
This homeschool calendar method operates on the idea that homeschool is simply what happens everyday.
If you like to travel for long periods of time in the off seasons, love a more spontaneous lifestyle or want to take time off to enjoy the best weather where you live, this can be a fantastic option.
One of the best things about this homeschool calendar is that your kids come to expect that school and learning happen everyday.
It is also excellent for anyone – mom or kid – who thrives on routine.
A year-round calendar can easily lead to homeschool mom burnout.
(And if you’re dealing with mom burnout, read this article ASAP!)
But if you look at your Yearly Homeschool Calendar and see that you already have lots of predetermined days off spaced evenly throughout the year, burnout is less likely to set in.
Another con about the year-round method is that you may need to keep careful documentation of your school days to make sure you meet any state requirements for the required number of school days.
4. Go with the flow/unschooling
This isn’t only a homeschool calendar system, but a complete homeschool methodology that focuses on child-led learning experiences rather than following a set calendar or curriculum.
Many of the pros (and a few cons) about unschooling can be found in this recent article from the New York Times. Many proponents of the go with the flow calendar mention how engaged their kids are in learning and how well they form their own opinions.
For one, unschooling or the go with the flow homeschool calendar system may not be legal in your state.
If unschooling is something you have considered, I highly recommend this well-written article from a mom of thirteen (!), who stopped unschooling after 12 years.
Finishing your homeschool calendar for the year
Once you’ve decided on the type of homeschool calendar you’ll be using for the year, block your school days out on your Yearly Homeschool Calendar sheet with a pencil.
It’s a good idea to check and see how many school days you end up with. (A good number of school days per year is at least 180-200.)
Once you have a good number of school days, finalize your homeschool calendar by putting your school days into your bigger planner!
Knowing your overall homeschool calendar for the year will make creating your daily and weekly plans so much easier.
Final thoughts on creating your yearly homeschool calendar
No matter what type of homeschool calendar you choose, remember that you can always make changes if needed!
One of the most wonderful things about homeschool is that you have the option to adapt to the needs of your kids, as well as your own personal circumstances.
Let me know if you have any questions about the common types of homeschool calendar systems. And don’t forget to download your Yearly Homeschool Calendar planning sheet from the Reluctant Homeschool Mama Resource Library!