I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes

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I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes • homeschool fears

I recently heard the fears of a mom deciding whether to pull her kids out of school. Public kindergarten was squelching her daughter’s love of learning, and she wanted something different for their family.

But a significant worry from this mom’s own childhood was keeping her from embracing homeschooling. Her worry was that some homeschooled students from her hometown had seemed socially awkward and unprepared for the world. She was scared that if she homeschooled, her children might eventually be in the same place.

The fear of making mistakes—whether socially or academically—can keep a family from homeschooling.

Of course, this mom could have read up about homeschool socialization and discovered how homeschooling often provide a better socialization experience than the schools. She could have looked at the data about homeschoolers being prepared for college and careers.

Homeschooling is a Journey

But what really helped this mom was to hear that homeschooling is a journey. She needed to hear that she can and will notice problems and make adjustments as she goes.

She doesn’t have to keep the same schedule and homeschool environment that she implements on her first day. If her fears about her children’s social development start to come true, she and her husband will notice, pray about it, and figure out what they could do to help. They might decide to join a new activity, quit an existing activity, address potential sources of anxiety, or whatever they feel might be a helpful step.

In other words, when you start to homeschool, you are not just hopping on a train that has one set path. Instead, you embark on long journey that your whole family will walk together.

Homeschooling Allows You to Correct Course as Needed

Like all homeschool parents, you will naturally make hundreds of small adjustments along the way, just as travelers on a long journey do. If you find you are making mistakes, you will change course.

  1. If your daughter lights up when she studies science, you will naturally feed her excitement by giving her more opportunities to explore science.
  2. If your son struggles to read, then you will address that challenge at his own pace (even while you move ahead in other subjects, if you want).
  3. If discipline or character issues demand more of your attention for a season, you’ll do that.

You will change up the order of your daily subjects, adapt to changing family dynamics, speed up in one subject and slow down in another, add topics that interest your children, and seek out extra help when they need it. If the small adjustments don’t work, you will do what it takes to serve your children.

Seek God Among the Twists and Turns (and Mistakes)

I say all this to encourage you to be at peace right now as you do the best you can with the information you have now. Rest in the knowledge that God will be with you as you handle whatever happens in the future.

Go ahead and make long-term goals for your children and your homeschool. Keep your eye on those goals and adjust your course as needed to get there. But also hold the whole process with an open hand and know that sometimes you may need to adjust your goals. You will learn with your children along the way and discover their unique needs as you go.

So enjoy the adventure of homeschooling. Build memories and seek God among the twists and turns He has for your children along the way.

And along your journey, know that Sonlight is flexible enough to adapt with you as you and your family change and grow. You can always contact an advisor for help making Sonlight work for you.

I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes • homeschool fears

Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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Reading Aloud Without Squashing the Life out of Your Lively Child

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How to Read Aloud without Squashing the Life Out of Your Lively Child • homeschool reading tips

He bounces out of bed like a pogo stick, dashes outside to jump on the trampoline, eats breakfast while hanging upside down from the bar stool asking a minimum of 523 questions, and then—just when you think he’s worn out—he races back to his room to get his dinosaur so he can show you just how loud he can roar. And it’s only 6:30 a.m.

Did I just describe your kid?  If so, you’ve probably thought, “I’d love to use a literature-based curriculum, but my child would never be able to sit and listen during the read alouds.”

After all, you’ve already sat down with him several times and tried picture books.  How will he ever be able to listen to chapter books? You might be surprised. You can read aloud without squashing the life out of your lively child.

A few tweaks to your read aloud time will set your lively child on the right path for developing a love for read aloud time.

1. Keep Their Hands Busy

This is one of my top tips because my kids love to draw and create. Read aloud time is their favorite time to practice their craft. Handiwork keeps hands busy while minds can stay focused. Sewing, crafting, crochet, and building with blocks are all great options.

2. Engage Them in Discussion

Kids will listen much more intently if they know that we genuinely value their opinion on a topic. Look for opportunities to pause your reading and discuss themes and ideas raised in the book. Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guides provide an excellent jumping board of discussion starters for each read aloud.

3. Create an Atmosphere

In the winter, gather in the living room. Pile up on the couch with blankets and light a few candles.  Maybe offer your children a special read aloud tea or hot chocolate. In the summertime, grab a quilt and some lemonade and take your read aloud outside. Cultivate an atmosphere that connects reading aloud to warm, family memories.

4. Break it Up

Few people can sit still for two hours, listening to a parade of books. So spread it out. Take care of your longest Read-Aloud in the morning when attention spans are longest and then sprinkle in the rest through the day. Snack times, lunch time, and bedtime provide a captive audience when kids are more prone to listen.

5. Increase Reading Time Gradually

Your first read aloud session won’t be perfect, so don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting it to be. Plan for a short session the first time and increase it gradually as the weeks go by. By the end of the year, you’ll be surprised by how long they can listen to great books.

You probably just glanced out the window to find that your sweet, active child is hanging from a tree limb outside, right? Don’t sweat it mama. Good books fuel imagination and play for lively children every day.  Sometimes it just takes a little training and some outside-of-the-box thinking to coax your energetic boys and girls into the land of literature.

Ready to explore an educational option that will work for your lively kids? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

How to Read Aloud without Squashing the Life Out of Your Lively Child • homeschool reading tips
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17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

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17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

Welcome to summer! Whether you homeschool year-round or take a break in the summer, these next months can be rich times of getting outdoors, building family memories, and letting your children explore what interests them.

If you’d like some inspiration for intentional ways to make memories and expand your children’s horizons, try a few of these fabulously fun summer activities.

1. Let Your Kids Get Bored

First and foremost let’s remember that it is OK for kids to be bored this summer. It can even be good for them. Check out this article and scroll down for a motivating video about letting your kids pass through the stages of boredom that lead to creative breakthrough and reflective self-knowledge. (You could also check your library for Peter Spier’s funny and inspiring picture book called Bored, Nothing to Do.)

Now for the actual activity ideas …

2. Go to the Farmer’s Market

Head to your local market to explore the produce and talk to the farmers. Pick something new and prepare it with your children. Or give each child a few dollars to browse and buy whatever they want to share with the family.

3. Live Up the Picnic Season

Pack up some peanut butter and jelly, grab a blanket, and head to your backyard or a park. Add something unexpected to your bag, such as a Frisbee or sketchpads and pencils.

4. Head to a Summer Festival

Many towns have a special festival at least once a summer. Look up your options and put something on the calendar now so you remember to go if you want to.

5. Read, and Read Some More

Whatever you do, please read this summer! Read out loud to your children, keep the house stocked with good books for them to read on their own, and let them see you enjoying your own books. Of course, our Summer Reader packages are a great place to start.

6. Experiment with Science

Whether you missed some of the scheduled science experiments this past school year, or you want to find new ones to tackle, you might take advantage of your relaxed schedule to attempt a few experiments. Summer is the perfect time to take the mess outside so you avoid the worries of spills and disasters in your kitchen.

7. Get Out the Art

If you didn’t have time for much art this year, or if your children really love it, you might want to bless them with the opportunity to create. Provide some supplies, a vision, and be willing to let the kids make a bit of a mess. Check out ARTistic Pursuits or our other art materials for inspiration.

8. Find a Family-friendly Outdoor Concert or Play

From Shakespeare to a string quartet to your favorite bluegrass group, pack up dinner and make a night out of it.

9. Help Your Kids Build at Fort

Choose a locale in your yard, down by the creek, or anywhere that feels special and exciting. As you know, kids even love a simple blanket fort inside. (Stock it with books and a flashlight if you want!)

10. Get Ideas from Your Kids

Ask your children what they want to learn how to do this summer. Even if they answer with something outrageous, you still might let them give it a try and see where it takes them.

11. Tackle Home Improvement

Let your children help in the planning, budgeting, shopping and the actual work. It will probably take longer than if you did it yourself, but it will certainly be a learning opportunity for everyone. Your kids will feel so proud of the finished product.

12. Tour a Local Farm

Many farms are happy to have visitors–especially eager, “love to learn” visitors. Look online to see what your local farms have to offer by way of tours and visiting hours. Some even let you come and volunteer for a while! If you visit a farm now and in September, you’ll be amazed at the difference from the beginning to end of a growing season.

13. Go Camping

It’s the ultimate family-bonding, nature-appreciating, funny-story-generating adventure. We camped often when the kids were young. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything!

14. Look for Wildflowers

Do you have particularly good wildflowers anywhere around? Take a camera or some sketchbooks and go explore.

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream

What child wouldn’t be excited for the chance to make and eat real ice cream? Even without an ice-cream maker, you can definitely make it at home.

16. Suggest a Lemonade Stand

Inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in your children. If you want to add some real-life math and money lessons, have your children calculate the cost of all the ingredients they use for lemonade and cookies. Then have them pay you back from their earnings and calculate their true profit.

17. Marvel at the Stars

Look online to see if any meteor showers will be visible soon. Or just pick a clear night to go lay out under the stars somewhere away from city lights. You can be sure your kids will remember that special night for years to come.

Again, please don’t feel pressure to do more than you want to here. If you just need to relax, organize your house, and send the kids outside, that can be great too. But I also know from experience that if you do want to do some special activities this summer, it can really help to make some simple plans or write your ideas down now.

I pray you enjoy the next few weeks of summer with your family!

17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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How to Schedule a 5-Day Program in a 4-Day Homeschool Week

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How to Schedule a 5-Day Program in a 4-Day Homeschool Week • homeschool planning • homeschool scheduling

Sonlight offers a 5-day program and a 4-day program. Because the 4-day program has 36 fewer scheduled days in the Instructor's Guide, there are fewer books overall.  But what if you want to follow the 4-day homeschool schedule while reading the 5-day books and the notes? In that case, you have two options.

  1. You can order the 4-day curriculum and let the additional 5-day books be supplemental reading for fun.
  2. You can order the 5-day curriculum and adjust the schedule as needed.

Let’s look at both of those.

Using the 4-Day Schedule with Supplemental Reading

If you prefer to know exactly what you’re doing each day without much thought on your part, the 4-day schedule is going to be better for you. The assignments are already scheduled, and you don't have to make adjustments.

As for missing out on the notes for the additional books, yes, that might be disappointing. But it is also good practice for the rest of life, in which, if we want to know more about something, we go and look it up.

  • You can locate map points and identify events on the timeline.
  • You can look up words in a dictionary.
  • You can talk through what you like, what the characters could have been done differently, the ways that some characters demonstrated virtue, and so on.

Alternately, you could allow your family just to read the 5-day books for fun. Books just because you love them . . . it’s an enticing thought.

Using the 5-Day Program with a Schedule Adjustment

Once your children are working independently, this option can be more challenging. But if you are still directly involved with the homeschooling, making your own schedule adjustments can work especially well.

Basically, with this option, you adjust the schedule on-the-fly. Overall, you know that you want to get through about five days in four days' time. So you just modify the schedule:

  • read a few extra chapters in your Read-Alouds
  • reserve a few Readers for the summer
  • double up on shorter Science or History assignments

For example, in the World History Programs Sonlight B and Sonlight C, Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World takes longer to read than The Usborne Book of World History. Ideally, you’d double up on the Usborne book, and not double up on Hillyer. Or if you did double up on Hillyer, you wouldn’t also double up on Science that day.

This method works best after you can get a sense of which assignments will take longer, without stressing about getting every last bit on the day that it should be done.

To put it another way: this method works well if you can feel good about moving forward in all subjects, without feeling stressed about being in slightly different places in the Instructor’s Guide.

One mom who uses this method keeps a list of the books and larger assignments she didn’t get to. At the end of the year, she revisits them. Then she chooses which, if any, to read or assign.

Between these two options, there isn’t a right or a wrong way to make a 5-day program fit into a 4-day homeschool schedule. There is merely a way that will work best for you. You probably can guess about yourself which will be more restful—to start with less and add as you choose, or to start with all and eliminate as needed.

Go with your intuition, and have a great year!

Ready to choose your four-day or five-day program? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

How to Schedule a 5-Day Program in a 4-Day Homeschool Week • homeschool planning • homeschool scheduling
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10 Reasons We Still Stick with Sonlight After 10 Years

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10 Reasons We Still Stick with Sonlight After 10 Years • reasons to homeschool • why homeschool • choosing homeschool curriculum Recently, I came across an old Sonlight catalog where my then four-year-old daughter, Kiera, and her best friend Tegan are featured on the back cover. Their obvious delight in their Sonlight books still brings a smile to my face. It's been ten years since that photo was taken. These girls are both 14 years old now—still firm friends and still loving Sonlight. (For a bit of memory-recreating fun, we had the girls pose for an updated version of their photo from ten years ago, this time with books from Science 150 and Sonlight 100.)

Ten years ago, when we started our Sonlight journey, we didn't know what kind of adventures our lives would bring. But I knew that it would involve Sonlight in some way or another. And I was right. Despite all the changes in our lives, Sonlight has remained one of the constants that has stayed us on our course. And, with our youngest being just eight years old, I suspect we will have another awesome 10 years of Sonlight. Here are ten reasons we stuck with Sonlight with Sonlight for ten wonderful years and why we will continue to do so.

1. The Way I Wish I Had Been Taught

The first time I considered homeschooling as a serious option for my (then) infant daughter was when Sue, a dear friend, pressed an old Sonlight catalog into my hands. I was an ex-teacher, disillusioned with the public school system and open to exploring other options. Homeschooling was a vague thought in the peripheral area of my brain.

Then I opened the Sonlight catalog.

The books! The stories! The photos of happy families enjoying learning together! The article 27 Reason to Homeschool with Sonlight that resonated so deeply with me!

I fell in love with a curriculum before I had any real idea of what homeschooling even was. I read the catalog cover to cover. I remember thinking, "Ahhhh! This is how I wish I had been taught!" only to close the back page and see the Sonlight tagline for the first time: "The way you wish you'd been taught!" A sign, perhaps?

2. The Books

Without a doubt, the biggest appeal of Sonlight and homeschooling were the books. This intriguing idea of learning about the world around us from a springboard of excellent literature made sense to me. I had witnessed the power of stories in my own classroom, seeing even jaded teens come alive with excitement and interest when we explored deep topics through a poignant novel.

My own learning had been best facilitated through living books, too. Ten years down the line with Sonlight, learning through literature has been an incredibly rewarding experience, not least of which is hearing my kids say, "Oh, that was such a great book!" or "Please read another chapter!"

3. The Discussions

I wish I had kept a record of every time a Sonlight book touched our hearts or generated deep discussion. The questions that the kids ask inspire deep in discussion long after the chapter has ended. Often, discussions continue in the car or come up again at the dinner table. They may not remember every historical event, person, or date, but hearing their broad understanding of historical periods and how that impacts their worldview has confirmed time and again the value of all that we are learning.

4. Parallel Themes for Multiple Ages

Juggling the learning needs of four kids can be incredibly time-consuming. Some families manage to cover one History / Bible / Literature program (HBL) per child, but in our family we've found that Sonlight's repeated HBL themes make it easy for us all to follow one historic theme for the year.

For example, currently our family is enjoying learning about the history of the USA. While my eldest child works on Sonlight 100 mostly independently, the rest of the family gets to enjoy some of her 100 Read-Alouds together with a selection of titles from HBL D and HBL E that we already own from our first trip through US history. It's a joy to revisit old favorites as a family while mixing in new-to-us stories, too.

5. The Customer Service

Every encounter I've had with the people who work for Sonlight has been incredibly positive. In fact, time and again, Sonlight has gone above and beyond to help me find solutions—and always with gracious warmth.

Recently, a friend gave me a slightly bent book. It turned out her Sonlight shipment included a few slightly damaged titles, something Sonlight realized before her Box Day! She was informed that her shipment would be slightly damaged but that replacement books were on the way. The second package arrived with instructions to keep the duplicates! She was amazed. (And we scored a free book!) I've yet to find a company with better customer service than Sonlight.

6. The Support

From the customer service team to the Sonlight forums and Facebook communities, I have never felt like we have been doing the Sonlight journey on our own. Receiving and giving support to fellow Sonlighters has been such a highlight of this journey. In some ways, it's a blessing we've taken for granted.

7. The Ever-improving Range of Choice

There have been times when I've scoured the Internet and homeschooling groups for great resources only to find myself back on the Sonlight site, discovering exactly what I needed has already been recommended and sold by Sonlight.

Winston Grammar is one such program. I had tried my hand at this and that for grammar, never quite settling on anything that stuck. Then a friend introduced me to Winston Grammar, and I was sold. Little did I know that Sonlight carried it!

In some cases, I've found a program that really works for my kids, only to discover that Sonlight has since added it to their stable. Math-U-See is one such program for which we have been grateful. Having a one-stop shop option for all our homeschooling needs has been a huge blessing over the years.

8. The Extras

Even when we took a break from Sonlight books to explore living books from my own home country of South Africa, we continued to order extra resources from Sonlight. If it weren't for Sonlight's introducing us to the Classical Kids Collection, my kids would never have come to know and love classical music. We've enjoyed ARTistic Pursuits with fellow Sonlight families and benefited from the Piano Wizard program in the kids' early years.

9. The Friendships

When we finally dived into homeschooling, it was alongside the same mom who had shared the Sonlight catalog with me in the early 2000s. Our girls, both 4 years old at the time, both started with the PreK program that year. Oh, the delight!

I remember those early days with great fondness. Now that they're both 14, their passions lie in different arenas from one another. One is all-consumed by musical theatre, history, and literature while the other loves all things biology, nature, and marine studies. Yet still, thanks in part to Sonlight, their friendship remains firm. They continue to share many homeschooling moments together, from comparing their favorite readers over the years to studying the same Sonlight high school science program.

10. The Memories

Looking back on these past ten years, without a doubt, our favorite homeschooling moments center around Sonlight.

  • Hours spent gathered around our fireplace in the winter or outdoors in the dappled shade of our tree in the summer, reading aloud literature rich in story.
  • Hilarious videos of Sonlight science experiments that worked—and those that didn't!
  • Geography Songs, including "The big big sticks are the wally..." which loosely translated is "'The Pacific states are Hawaii..." as sung by our youngest, then 2 years old!
  • Long road trips, consuming more Sonlight favorites via audiobook.

And a multitude of moments with other Sonlight families sharing and delighting in all the Sonlight has to offer.

Next month, our family is embarking on our biggest adventure yet. My husband's company is relocating our family from Cape Town, South Africa to Brisbane, Australia. It's been, without a doubt, one of the toughest decisions we've ever had to make with plenty of unknowns ahead of us. But schooling is not one of them. With homeschooling, we will continue with the kids' education wherever we are in the world. With Sonlight, we can enjoy doing it.

Start your Sonlight journey the same way Taryn did. Order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

10 Reasons We Still Stick with Sonlight After 10 Years • reasons to homeschool • why homeschool • choosing homeschool curriculum
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Homeschool Grading and Transcripts for High School in 3 Steps

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Homeschool Grading and Transcripts for High School in 3 Steps

Grading is a topic that generates a whole range of emotions among homeschoolers.

  • Some folks began homeschooling to get away from the stigma of grades.
  • Others just want an easy way to assign a grade and be done with it.
  • Still others are uncertain how to navigate the maze of grading and high school transcripts.

Homeschooling allows us the freedom to ensure mastery. In other words, there is never a reason for a homeschool student to fail a subject. You simply move at your child’s pace and help them reach their best potential. Thus, if one of my children does not meet the expectation I've set for a particular assignment, she has the privilege of working on it again until the assignment is mastered.

Although the pass/fail concept is good, for many students, when they reach high school and are thinking about college you may need to create an official transcript. At that point more detailed or specific grading becomes necessary.

1. Educate Yourself with a Guide

We recommend ordering Cafi Cohen's book Homeschooler's College Admissions Handbook while your children are in middle school or as soon as you can when they have entered high school. This is one of the most practical and easy to read resources on the whole topic of homeschooling high school, writing transcripts, and preparing for post-high school options. You might also find our high school webinar (embedded below) to be a good resource. And we also have a free guide if you prefer a print format.

2. Set Clear Expectations for Your Teen

Each time I began a new college class, the professor handed out a syllabus on the first day. It listed the titles of the books required for the course, an outline of what to expect during the course, and what it would take to pass the course. I have found it helpful to provide the same details for my high school students.

A possible syllabus for Sonlight Level 400 - American Government / Civics and Economics might look something like this:

  • Passing this course requires you to read 14 of the 24 American Literature titles included in this program. You must read Moby Dick, but you may choose any other 13 titles.
  • Passing this course requires you to read the following History/Civics titles: Basic American Government by Carson, Never Before in History by Amos and Gardiner, and Emancipating Slaves by Hummel.
  • Passing this course requires you to read 6 of the 8 biographies/historical fiction titles included in this program.
  • Passing this course requires you to complete the writing assignments associated with the 14 American Literature titles you choose.
  • Passing this course requires your comprehension of the History/Civics titles you are required to read. This will be determined by verbal discussion with me, and occasional writing assignments (simple chapter or section reviews).

[I am not saying that a student should not read all the books in 400, or that these titles are better than those not listed. This outline is purely for the sake of demonstrating a possible syllabus.]

A similar approach can be taken with math, science, or any other subject assigned for a given high school year.

Though it will take you some time at the beginning of the year, there's a huge value in creating a written syllabus. All players are aware of the rules and expectations from the start. You as the parent are not stuck making up requirements as the year progresses, and the student begins the course with a thorough understanding of what is expected.

3. Create a Grading Chart for the Transcript

Determine ahead of time what level of work earns what grade and how that will ultimately translate to a high school transcript. Cohen's book is a good resource for how to grade and determine grade point equivalents for a transcript. Here's a suggested grading chart:

Completion of all assigned work with exemplary output

98-100% (A)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 4.0

Completion of all assigned work with outstanding output

90-98% (A-)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 3.7

Completion of all assigned work with good output

85-90% (B+)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 3.3

Completion of all assigned work with average output

80-85% (B)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 3.0

Completion of all assigned work with a struggle

75-80% (C+)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 2.3

Completion of all assigned work—just squeaking by

70-75% (C)
Transcript Credit Equivalent: 2.0

It will be up to you as the parent/teacher to define exemplary output or with a struggle, but once you have that foundation, your grade equivalency chart will save you much time and effort.

The bottom line is you as the parent will determine what grading you will use for your high school students. You determine the standard by which your student is evaluated. And the amazing blessing of homeschooling is that you can set that standard based on what you know about your student. The trick is to spend some time well before the school year begins to establish expectations for every course, create a grade equivalency chart, and communicate these with your teens.

This level of grading detail is far less necessary (if at all) in the lower grades where there is no need for creating a transcript. Creating a much simpler pass/fail scale or grade range expectation works just fine.

Homeschooling high school is an exciting challenge. You will encounter all sorts of life-changing experiences with your students and build memories that will last a lifetime. Don't let grading become a roadblock to your high school journey.

Educating high schoolers? Get your free guide for Homeschool High School Transcripts.

Homeschool Grading and Transcripts for High School in 3 Steps
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Six Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Year to Fit Your Family

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Six Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Year to Fit Your Family • homeschool schedules • homeschool planning

One of the many perks of this lifestyle of learning we call homeschooling is the ability to set your own schedule. Even if you are required by your state to fulfill a certain number of school days each year, you still maintain autonomy in where to fit those days into your calendar and whether you choose a four-day or five-day school week. Although every family's schedule is unique, there are six broad categories of yearly plans. Find the one that fits your children and your family goals by weighing the pros and cons of each.

1. Standard School Schedule

This homeschool schedule runs roughly August to June, taking off two weeks at Christmas and one week for Spring Break.

Pros

With this schedule, you are schooling and breaking in tandem to everyone else in your area, allowing you the least disruption for extracurriculars (which are often tied to the public school schedule).

Cons

Your schedule is similar to everyone else's. Your vacations and days off are in sync with the general public. Expect larger crowds for field trips and family travel than if you went during off-season times.

2. Long Christmas Break

For some families, taking six weeks from Thanksgiving week through the New Year is one of the joys of homeschooling. You could start earlier in the summer to complete an 18 week fall semester before the long break, or follow a pattern of a 12 week fall and 24 week spring.

Pros

If you love the holidays, this is a dream come true. You get time to travel, bake, read Christmas books, and decorate—all with minimal stress.

Cons

The spring can seem interminable. When other people are finishing their year, and you have a month or so yet to go, that Christmas splurge seems really far away.

3. Six Weeks On, One Week Off

This is a popular schedule. Starting August 1, if you have six weeks of schooling, then take a week off (with two weeks off at Christmas), you’ll be through your 36 weeks of school before the end of May, and have a good ten weeks of break before you start again.

Pros

The built-in weeks off give you a regular break to look forward to. Six weeks is less of a push than a full semester. You have time to catch up on the stuff of life and evaluate how your year is going while still enjoying a lengthy summer vacation.

Cons

Not everyone is ready to begin their school year on August 1. If that’s you, you might consider a modified version, like nine weeks on, two weeks off, which starts a bit later in August.

4. Modified Summer Vacation

This is an excellent option for children who will start homeschooling for the first time after some years at public school. When you’re ready, introduce subjects one at a time. Perhaps you start Science the second week in July (including an experiment or two), and then add Read-Alouds the next week to start experiencing the joy of reading together. Math begins the next week, flying through some of those early review chapters. The next week you introduce, say, History.

Pros

By the time your school year officially begins, you’ve eased into the work; you have some of the lessons out of the way, so you have greater flexibility during the rest of the year. With a few introductory weeks under your belt, you have figured out some of the hurdles you might need to overcome so you’re not overwhelmed.

Cons

“The First Day of School” is anticlimactic. You don’t have a true and complete break (which, if you are inside with air conditioning all day, every day anyway, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

5. Year Round

Prefer to take a week off here and there, and keep the learning going through the year? Try year-round homeschooling.

Pros

Days off are totally flexible. You enjoy a more relaxed schedule, with days off as needed. There's the possibility to stretch topics for delight-directed learning, while still finishing a program a year. You have no summer slide because the learning doesn’t stop.

Cons

You have no restorative summer vacation.

6. The Unschedule

There’s always the option to start at some point in August or September and move forward, as best you can, until you finish, without any pre-defined breaks. Depending on appointments and playdates, vacations and interruptions, your end date might be sometime between May and July.

Pros

No stress about falling behind in your schedule—you’re right where you are, every day, with no sense of whether you should be farther along.

Cons

If you’re not naturally disciplined, you might get to the end of the year and find you’ve accomplished less than you had hoped.

Does one of these options stand out to you as especially promising? Or maybe a combination of several of them? There isn’t one right answer. And what works for you this year may not work in the future. So be willing to revisit your homeschool plan on a year by year basis.

Want a practical picture of how to implement one of these homeschool schedules? Take Sarita's daughter Jonelle as an example.

She starts by blocking out the trips and family visits she has already planned for the year. Then she pencils in her expected start date. If something comes up during the school year, it’s easy to move the remaining weeks forward as needed.

She begins some of her subjects during the summer to take the pressure off later. Sick day in October? No worries. Everything is just fine. She knows she needs a few weeks off for a true break, so she works in a month off at the end of school before resuming in the fall. But because she keeps the Sonlight books available, she finds her children are already asking to re-read them. So while it’s not a formal school time, she’s still reading with her children, which means the pattern of doing school is not lost.

Order your homeschool program today. Sonlight works with whatever schedule you choose, whenever you start your year.

Six Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Year to Fit Your Family • homeschool schedules • homeschool tips • homeschool organization
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