Our 2020-2021 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

With so many families deciding to homeschool this year, I thought it was time to share our curriculum list for 2020-2021. This school year, we have a PreKindergartener, 1st grader, and 6th grader. We keep things much lighter for the younger ones and are combining several of their subjects for the foreseeable future to make my life a little bit easier. The eldest becomes more and more independent each year, but I’m grateful to still have the time with her reading aloud and discussing major topics in history and science each day. Here, you’ll first find a simple list of our curriculum choices by subject, and below that I will clarify how we use some of these in our home if you are interested in that extra bit of information. Some of these items will list two levels; this is because as relaxed homeschoolers, we just pick up where we leave off each year and start new levels as we finish the old, whenever that may be during the school year. As such, I will list the levels we are still completing, along with those we will likely move into during the year.

6th Grade:

Sonlight Core F (Study of the Eastern Hemisphere)
Supplemented with the additional Chronicles of Narnia novels
Supplemented with the prior novels of Gloria Whelan’s Russian Saga

Sonlight Science G (Evolution, Genetics, and Geology)
Supplemented with graphic novels The Stuff of Life and Evolution

Teaching Textbooks Online Math 6 then Math 7
Life of Fred (Conceptual Math) Elementary Series Book J
Life of Fred (Conceptual Math) Intermediate Series Books K, L, and M

Language Arts
Essentials in Writing (Composition and Grammar) Level 5
All About Spelling Level 6 then Level 7
Wordly Wise (Vocabulary) Book 5 then Book 6
Supplemented with spelling and vocabulary games at

Physical Education
Up to 8 hours of ballet, tap/jazz, and lyrical dance classes each week with bi-annual recitals
1 hour of tumbling classes each week
All of this is part of the requirements for the eldest to participate in her dance studio’s Company level program, which includes competitions and The Nutcracker performances.

1/2 an hour of piano lessons each week plus daily practice

Girl Scouts First Year Cadette Troop participation

1st Grade:

Sonlight Preschool and PreK Books at Leisure (Combined with PreKindergartener)

Horizons Math Grade K Workbook 2 then Grade 1 Workbook 1 and Workbook 2

Language Arts
Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade Workbook then 2nd Grade Workbook
All About Reading Level 2 then Level 3
All About Spelling Level 1

Keyboarding Without Tears 1st Grade Online Subscription

Physical Education
1 hour of ballet dance classes each week with bi-annual recitals
1 hour of tumbling classes each week
1 hour of gymnastics classes each week

1/2 an hour of piano lessons each week plus daily practice

Girl Scouts Second Year Daisy Troop participation


Sonlight Preschool and PreK Books at Leisure (Combined with 1st Grader)

Math/Language Arts/Readiness
All About Reading Pre-reading Level
Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book with activities and songs
Supplemented with iPad apps like Starfall, Khan Academy Kids, etc.

While our family loves the scope of Sonlight’s program, we have been taking a more relaxed approach over the last few years wherein we do not use the official Sonlight instructor’s guide or any of the worksheets. We often also drop some of the books from their list that we know won’t work for us and supplement those with something in a similar field or with prequels and sequels to the novels from a series listed in Sonlight’s materials. This year, we are using the Core F Notebook for the 6th grader, but we are simply using the book lists from P3 and P4 for the little two to choose books from each day for read aloud time. We usually do not use the Sonlight science experiments at all anymore, as they always got put off and forgotten in the craziness of extracurriculars during the school year. The kids get a lot of STEAM activities by participating in Girl Scouts, visiting museums, and engaging with other community events throughout the year, along with pursuing their own interests, many of which involve technology and art, in their free time.

As I said before, we move through these materials at our own pace, so we may even progress beyond Core F for the 6th grader this year, in which case we’ll just segue into Core G when that time comes. We’re all about just picking up the next page/lesson/chapter each day and seeing where we go. We have made huge efforts to keep the workbooks and bookwork pretty minimal while maintaining standards that would be required by a public school if ever they had to attend one. Most of our schooling is about keeping a good, but relaxed foundation in the three Rs while using literature as exposure to ideas for the remaining subjects and engaging in lots of our favorite extracurricular actives for enrichment. I hope our experience is helpful to you in your own homeschooling journey. Best of luck!

Our Fall 2019 Homeschool Routine/Schedule

Current Mood:productive emoticon productive

Current Music: the kids watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Netflix

I know how much everyone that homeschools (or is thinking about it!) loves to read details of how others make it work for their family, so I decided to share how our routine has changed going into this school year. I have officially started to lean in a more relaxed direction, so we don’t strive to check every box or even complete curricula within the calendar year anymore. Instead, we just take it one page/lesson/chapter at a time and move to the next book on our list as we complete something. It has made a world of difference in my stress levels and given the kids a bit more free time because we aren’t frantically trying to get all the things done by a certain timeframe. Ironically, after beginning this method sometime during the course of last school year, we actually made it through more materials than we had in previous years. Maybe it’s just the feeling of being more in control of our learning instead of it controlling us, but whatever the reason we’re sticking with it moving forward.

This year, we have a 5th grader, kindergartener, and little preschool-aged brother tagging along but not doing anything formal. Our week always changes a bit each semester as activity schedules change for our myriad of extracurriculars for the older two, including dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, and Girl Scout meetings and events. We are also not morning people and choose to let the kids stay up a bit later than most because it works for us. We’re usually up around 9 or so in the mornings, and bedtime for the kids is around 9PM, though sometimes it gets closer to 10 depending on the day. All three kids have a chore chart in order to earn screen time that includes making beds, completing school and piano practice, cleaning up any toys they got out, and asking if there’s anything I’d like their help with. They complete these at their leisure, other than school/piano since it’s built into our routine, and no one is allowed to do any electronics that take up the TV and will be distracting to those still working until everyone is done with school. If they choose to use their screen time while a sibling is still working, they must use handheld devices with the volume down or headphones in. Sometimes we limit the amount of screen time more than others, but if they are using educational apps or taking their own breaks to play pretend or with toys or do something creative, I feel less need to step in and require them to turn off the electronics for a bit.

During my eldest’s independent work, I’m free to work on my own grad school assignments, administrative stuff, etc. and complete any chores I deem necessary for the day. I will say, that I hired out regular house cleaning a long time ago, so my husband and I mostly worry about clutter, laundry, and kitchen-related duties in between kid wrangling and our other commitments for work and education. Our school day lasts as long as it does because my eldest wants to listen to her sister’s read alouds and sometimes takes her time working through her subjects while listening to music and interacting with everyone else. She knows she only takes her own time if she dawdles too much, as I require her to work through all her subjects before she can call the day done on the school front.

Here’s a little breakdown of how most of our school days go:

10:00 AM Kindergarten Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
10:30 AM Kindergarten Math, Handwriting, and Phonics/Reading with Mom
5th Grade Independent Piano Practice
11:00 AM Kindergarten Independent Piano Practice and Computer Keyboarding
5th Grade Spelling with Mom
11:30 AM Kindergarten Complete for the Day
5th Grade Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
12:00 PM Lunch – 5th Grade Read Alouds Continued with Mom
(Independent Audible and/or Internet-Linked Resources while Mom prepares food)
1:00 PM 5th Grade Independent Science, Language Arts, Computer Keyboarding, and Math
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM School Day Ends as all subjects are completed

If we have extracurricular activities, which we do at least three or four days a week, we usually have to leave the house anywhere between 1 PM and 3 PM to arrive on time. The 5th grader takes anything she hasn’t completed with her in a backpack, including her iPad for access to her online math software and internet-linked materials. Because we finish anything that requires my help or participation by the time lunch is over, she is able to easily work on her own in the car and while waiting if the activity we’re at that day is for the kindergartener. Other school years we’ve usually had one day that’s heavier on being away from home than others and so instituted four-day school weeks a long time ago. This year, things are more spread out, but my eldest decided she would rather take work on the go and still get a third full day off each week than to divide the work we do into the times we are home around activities throughout the week. So, for this semester, at least, we take Friday’s off from homeschool work. The kids get a three-day weekend, aside from any extracurriculars we may need to attend on those days. It can make for some full days for the 5th grader Monday through Thursday because she is basically doing school and/or activities until dinner if we aren’t home all afternoon, but she still prefers it, and we’re usually home a day or two each week for her to finish up at normal time and play for the two or three hours until dinner. I also really enjoy the three day weekends for extra time to get things done for myself that I’ve maybe been putting off during the first part of the week while working with the kids.

Sometimes, our school-day mornings get away from us, and we don’t start school until 11 or even noon, but everything can still be done by dinner because of how we organize our work and don’t take on more than we can handle in any given subject each day. My eldest is given a lot of freedom with the order that she does her independent work in, which has helped a lot with previous issues dragging her feet through her work. We work together to find the best curricula that fit her needs and meet my requirements if something isn’t working for her or is causing a lot of pushback. By getting to choose which things she does next as she works, it gives her enough control to not feel like she has to fight me about getting the schoolwork done, even when she’s having a rough day. By switching to a relaxed next page/lesson/chapter methodology, even on the worst days, she can complete every subject easily by dinner because the work required in each subject is in small, manageable chunks. Going into this semester, we have so far had the least stressful experience of homeschooling we’ve had since she began more formal work in 1st grade. I’m a recovering box checker, and the benefits are definitely encouraging me to stay on the proverbial relaxed homeschooling wagon!

Our 5th Grade Curriculum Choices for the 2019-2020 Homeschool Year

As relaxed-ish homeschoolers, we still follow the general guidelines of workbooks and curricula that we have loved in the past, but we are no longer feeling beholden to checking every box by a certain point in the year or using every aspect of something if it doesn’t work well for our needs as a family on the spectrum. We try to touch on each subject every day that we do school, but if things are taking a little longer or we’re feeling a little burned out, we just start where we left off the following day to ensure we are not missing any particular subject repeatedly. My main goal with subjects like history, Bible, literature, and science is exposure to the ideas, while I prioritize daily practice in small chunks of math and language arts concepts so we don’t lose new skills from the lack of repetition. With that in mind, here is what we are using going into the fall semester of Anya’s 5th grade year:

Sonlight Core E (American History Year 2 of 2):
We completed reading the materials up to the beginning of WWII last year, so that is where we will be picking up this year.*

Sonlight Core F (Eastern Hemisphere):
Once we complete Core E, we will be moving on to Core F, probably after the Holidays. We’ll likely make it through a study of the East Asian countries in the program before breaking for summer.*

Sonlight Core E (Starting Strong Series):
We completed two of the three studies included in the collection provided by Sonlight for this Core. We will begin the fall semester with the final book.**

Sonlight Core F (Case for Kids Series):
We will move right into Case for a Creator for the rest of the fall semester, with plans to continue into Case for Christ and Case for Faith in the spring.**

Sonlight Core E (American History Year 2 of 2):
We will be reading through the remaining books that accompany the WWII materials, as well as a few just for fun titles included in Sonlight’s program. We also added the rest of the Logan family saga to our Audible list rather than only reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry on its own.***

Sonlight Core F (Eastern Hemisphere):
As with history, we will read through the titles that correlate to the East Asian nations for our spring semester literature and see where things go from there. Living in Japan means we will probably spend a bit more time on this portion of the Core.

Sonlight Science E (Electricity, Magnetism, & Astronomy):
We only have a couple of titles left from this Core to finish up during the fall semester, along with about half of the experiments. Interests in astrology and mythology were spurred by the astronomy materials last semester, so we’ll be exploring that a bit on our own, as well.*

Sonlight Science F (Health, Medicine, & Anatomy):
We’ll move into these materials as we finish up Science E. I decided to swap out the nutrition-related experiment book for a DK book about nutrition that we will read through together instead. Involved experiments are not realistic for us, and they would just end up left undone.*

Teaching Textbooks (Math 5 and Math 6):
We switched from Saxon Math to TT after the Holidays last year, and it has gone very well. She has finished over half of the program and will keep working through the lessons this semester, moving on to the next level once completed.

Life of Fred (Elementary Series):
She just began using this series when we switched to TT, and it has been a lot of fun! She’ll continue reading through them at her own pace, beginning with Book D for this semester. Applying math to real life was alluding her, and this has helped tremendously.
Free, timed math fact practice. Finishing up multiplication this semester and moving on to division facts soon.

Language Arts
Sonlight Core E Readers:
She still had a couple of just-for-fun titles left from Core E that she began reading through over the summer, and there weren’t really any historical readers that needed to be held off for the WWII portion of the Core, so she has already almost finished these materials a few weeks into the semester. We added in additional novels based on her interests instead, such as the Pandora series and fairytale sagas by E.D. Baker.

Sonlight Core F Readers:
As with history, she will begin reading the novels that correlate to East Asian studies when we begin working on Core F materials as a whole, probably after the Holidays.

Handwriting Without Tears (4th and 5th Grade):
She has already almost completed the last few pages of the 4th-grade cursive workbook from last year and will now be moving into the 5th-grade cursive workbook for the rest of the fall semester. She plans to then complete the print review workbook afterward for extra practice because dysgraphia has made writing neatly a struggle. We only use the workbooks, which she does independently.

Easy Grammar (Grade 4 and Grade 5):
A couple of pages of this a day keeps her up to speed with grammar mechanics and identifying parts of speech. She had a few weeks of Grade 4 to finish up this month but has now begun Grade 5. She does this independently and checks her own work to identify mistakes.

Wordly Wise Vocabulary (Book 4 and Book 5):
She had about three lessons left of Book 4 at the beginning of this semester, so she will be completing what is still left of those before moving on to Book 5 in a couple of weeks. We only use the workbooks, which she does independently.

All About Spelling (Level 5):
She is about halfway through this level. We will continue on to the next levels as she is ready, as the program is designed.

Essentials in Writing (Level 4):
I had been feeling for a while that composition was a weak point in our homeschooling. We tried a lot of different things before finally trying this program about halfway through the spring semester last year. I was okay starting her out in Level 4 because I felt she needed the extra instruction and practice. We’ll move on to the next level as she completes this one, whenever that ends up being. She enjoys the online teacher videos and fun design of the accompanying workbook.

Keyboarding Without Tears (5th Grade):
She completed all of the 4th-grade program last year, so we began the new school year with the 5th-grade level. She will be sad to complete this final year of keyboarding using these materials, as it has been a source of a lot of random knowledge that correlated to other things she’d learned and a fun part of her school day because of the game-like presentation.

Piano Lessons:
Once weekly piano lessons with an instructor, with daily practice and recitals twice a year. This will be her seventh year of piano, and she still loves it.

Ballet Classes:
She is cutting back to just two ballet classes at the dance studio each week this semester, as adding in jazz, tap, and contemporary last year ended up being very stressful for her. She would never admit it, but having almost every weekday be just school, dance, sleep, repeat was very draining for her. She is doing much better with more free time after school. She will still have a recital at the end of each semester. This will also be her seventh year of ballet.

We have been attempting a formal art curriculum every year we have homeschooled and never made it very far. It would be the first thing to go when a day got overwhelming. This semester I have instead opted to make sketchbooks, art supplies, how-to-draw books, etc. more accessible for every-day use, and she is enjoying being able to pursue art in the direction she so chooses (currently anime and fairytale illustrations).

Girl Scouts:
She has been in Scouts since kindergarten and will be continuing as a second-year Junior this year. We are careful not to overdo it by opting out of events that don’t jive with our internal clocks or sensory needs when we feel it is reasonable to do so. She saves her energy for attending overnight camp at the end of the year, as it is something that is important to her.

*We read the books provided by Sonlight, but we do not use any other part of the IG or extra activities. It was more than we could realistically handle. Instead, we use the internet links from any Usborne books in the program for a fun way to make the information more engaging for Anya, whose interest in history and science is limited only to things that relate to her other existing special interests. I have been relying only on the schedule from Sonlight, but moving forward, I won’t be purchasing an IG at all. We will instead work our way through the books that we would like to use from the program at our own pace in the order we choose, eliminating some cost and books that we have learned from experience won’t be a good fit.

**We do not do any of the extra scripture reading or memorization scheduled by Sonlight. We simply do the devotionals and related reading together, otherwise discussing Biblical topics as they come up naturally in our household. We often read other Bible story materials together and have lots of such resources available all over the house.

***We divide literature up between Audible in the car and read-alouds on the couch, and we like to add in sequels and prequels to books listed by Sonlight every chance we get, which extends the time needed to finish a Core’s worth of reading. We don’t do discussion questions or activities from the IG; we just discuss naturally as we read and things come up in the day-to-day that relate to the material.

Our 4th Grade Math & Language Arts Curriculum Choices for the 2018-2019 Homeschool Year

4th Grade Math & Language Arts

Today I’m sharing our choices for math and language arts skills for the new school year as my oldest child enters 4th grade. Many of our selections are continuations of past years with a few changes to things that just weren’t working, as usual. Our homeschool curriculum and philosophy is ever-changing and fluid based on the needs of our lives at the time and those of my individual children.

I have learned in the past couple of years, to prioritize the three R’s, as it were, to avoid falling behind grade level when life gets crazy. Anything else learned is gravy on top, and as long as my children can read, write, and do age appropriate mathematics, they will have the tools and education to pursue knowledge in any other avenue they so desire at any point in their lives they so choose. As such we utilize workbook and textbook formats for the foundations of these subjects while preferring literature and experiences for everything else so that the kids are exposed to ideas and gaining knowledge without the stress of hitting benchmarks or enduring testing.

Saxon Math 5/4 with DIVE Instructor Videos and Fact Practice
We have been doing Saxon Math since the Kindergarten book, and though at times it is a lot of work and repetition, it works very well for retention for my daughter. I will admit, we often leave out memorization or practice exercises that feel excessive for an academically gifted child on the spectrum with a knack for recall because it doesn’t interfere with her understanding of the concepts for us to do so. If I ever notice something slipping, we add that practice back in until she is up to speed.

This year, we began the new to us format of the older grade books which at first made Anya a bit nervous. But, for the first time, she is able to do her math work completely independent from me until it’s time to check for mistakes. She watches the DIVE video while taking notes, then reads through the textbook lesson and works through the practice problems. Thus far she is doing very well and has yet to ask me a single question or miss a problem for anything other than a simple adding mistake. The provided graph paper worksheets for working out problems have also been very helpful to aide her in developing better habits of writing smaller and being more organized, which is a must in math. This is something that her fine motor skill struggles have made difficult for her in recent years as she needed to be able to line up columns and would sometimes end up with a confusing mess.

I do not utilize Saxon’s timed math fact sheets as there is already so much to do in a single lesson for Saxon that it is far too time consuming with a child who panics with timers put in place by me and gets distracted when writing things down on paper. Instead, I opted for timed practice online through the free program on, which has done wonders for her mental math skills in the two years we’ve used it for addition and subtraction. This year we’re implementing the full program to include multiplication and division, and she is whizzing through the addition section in review without difficulty. Doing it on the computer gives her a break from all the workbook writing, and takes the teacher role away from me for a subject that previously has been one that I experienced a lot of time lost during due to Anya dragging her feet just to get at me when she was in a mood. Having her independence has been a major boost in her morale concerning math, and a relief for me as someone who is not math gifted especially when it comes to teaching more than the basics to someone else.

Wordly Wise 3000 Book 4
Having completed our phonics work with Explode the Code last school year, we switched gears to Wordly Wise this year for vocabulary enrichment. You can begin it in earlier years, but our phonics curriculum did a pretty good job of introducing new words at those lower levels in addition to her reading so I decided to wait until vocabulary could replace an existing item in our homeschool daily agenda rather than add yet more to it. Anya is doing well working through this independently, and the reading comprehension sections in each lesson were something she needed practice with. Inferring answers that aren’t in black and white on the page is definitely not something she is strong in and tends to panic when she can’t find one written out, so she’s learning to trust her thought processes and not rely on answers placed directly within the page since they don’t always exist. I feel confident that this alone will make doing Wordly Wise worth it as the year progresses.

Handwriting Without Tears: Cursive Success & Building Writers Level E
Anya has been using the Handwriting Without Tears program since PreK and the cursive portion since the latter part of 2nd grade. She loves that she’s getting to learn cursive, and the workbooks have always been pretty simple for her to do independently. Learning Without Tears released their new Building Writers series this spring, and we bought the 3rd grade level book to test out before deciding to stick with it moving into this school year. Creative writing is a favorite subject for Anya so these books allow her to independently learn the aspects of writing for both research and creative purposes in small chunks without me having to put as much effort into coming up with and guiding assignments. We previously have used several different programs, most recently Sonlight’s integrated Creative Expression, for writing practice, but I struggled with the amount of parental involvement on top of our other Sonlight choices, which I’ll discuss more in a later post. This new series is meant to be used as a supplement, but there are blank template pages within each unit for the various styles of writing that I either let Anya choose or assign topics for in order to keep her writing experience well rounded. We’ll switch to something more rigorous when this program ends after 5th grade and focus more now on simple mechanics and the joy of writing so that she stays inspired to pursue it instead of getting frustrated.

Easy Grammar: Grade 4
As with writing, we have tried several different grammar programs over the years. I always felt like things didn’t review enough for retention, but didn’t want a program that added in writing since we covered that elsewhere. And most of them, again, still didn’t spiral back through concepts enough for me. Last year, about halfway through the year, we stopped using the Sonlight language arts grammar portion that was included in the Creative Expression mentioned above and switched to Easy Grammar. In a few minutes a day, Anya can work through grammar exercises that build on each other to get a better grasp of sentence structure. The difference in her understanding has been phenomenal. We worked double time to finish the book and begin book 4 for this school year, and it wasn’t hard at all for her to do 3 or 4 pages in a day if necessary. I am thrilled to finally feel a curriculum “click” for us in the realm of grammar after so many years of feeling like we just weren’t quite getting it.

All About Spelling: Level 4
All About Spelling is a progress at your own speed program that we flew through at first when we began it in 1st grade and then worked through painfully slowly in the following years due to life experiences when we prioritized other subjects. This year I think we’ll work through it pretty quickly since we’re in a better routine. I do have to be involved with this one to teach the lesson, but thanks to a release of their iPad app we no longer have to use a whiteboard with physical magnetic letter tiles which keeps things so much simpler. I love that this program teaches spelling phonetically which matched up to our previous phonics curriculum and allows Anya to understand the rules of English spelling rather than learn themed word sets. I wish we all learned spelling this way! Even though she can’t do it independently, we will continue using this for the long haul until we complete level 7.

Having most of our language arts and math materials be workbooks that require a few minutes a day each of practice that can mostly be done independently has made this year go so much more smoothly overall than when I had to be more involved with everything. It allows me to put more focus on the things I do with her while working with my younger ones or getting my own work done during her independent work. I definitely don’t feel spread as thinly as I did in the past.

Why We Homeschool on a Year-Round Schedule

When we first started out on our homeschool journey, I mostly stuck to the traditional schedule in terms of the months we spent doing schoolwork. This was easy because for a couple of years we only really had to do assignments two or three days a week to accomplish a school year. Then we progressed past Kindergarten, and it was time to get serious. We found ourselves falling behind a lot when we’d take unexpected days off for one reason or another. We were simply scheduled too rigidly. I had read about the benefits of year-round schooling over at and decided I really liked the idea. So I implemented it the following school year and haven’t looked back, though I have tweaked it to fit our upcoming commitments each year as well as account for what might not have worked so well a previous year.

What Does a Year-Round Schedule Look Like for Us?
Typically we begin our school year the first full week after the 4th of July holiday. Heat is one of my personal sensory triggers so we tend to avoid being outdoors much during the day for most of the latter part of summer and early fall when I know I’m just going to be miserable trying to do anything. It makes sense for us to use this time to get school done and save the fun outdoor activities for evenings or cooler temperatures in the early spring. Our fall break usually comes around the first week of October when we take off the week of my oldest daughter’s birthday.

This doesn’t mean we don’t take a day off before October, we just tend to only do so if something comes up such as illness or an unexpected day off for their dad so we can enjoy that time with him since we never know when he might be gone for weeks or months at a time. It means we’re in school for a good solid 12 weeks, but I find it’s best to do that long haul at the beginning when the curriculum is new and exciting and no one is burned out yet. Then we get back to school for the next six weeks or so after my daughter’s birthday, only taking the day of Halloween off, until the week of Thanksgiving.

At this point we take a long holiday break because the Christmas season is a favorite in our house, and we tend to do a lot of extra activities in and outside of the home to celebrate. I found trying to enjoy the season while keeping up with school always made it stressful instead of joyful, and I refused to let that become our reality each year during a time that usually brought me so much comfort. Originally this break lasted from that next to last week of November through the first week of January, but now we usually take an extra week to get through my son’s birthday the second week of January before we start back.

So, wait, doesn’t that mean we just switched out the 8 week summer break for a winter one? How is that year-round? Well, we don’t typically take the entire break off from all schoolwork. We use the weeks leading up to Christmas to make up anything we’ve inevitably gotten behind on and keep a light, relaxed schedule as we make our way through it. If something has come up in the spring that we weren’t aware off at the beginning of the school year that means we need to work ahead so we can take time off, we do a little of that, too. It takes the pressure off to know we don’t have a hard deadline for finishing up the semester, it’s just an ideal goal to have that long break if we somehow miraculously get to everything.

As we begin the spring semester, we go for about 7 weeks and take a spring break that spans the week of my middle daughter’s birthday as well as my own in early March. This allows us to get back in the swing of things knowing another break is in sight. Then we finish up the school year in a long stretch through the last week or so of May and take a short summer break through June and Independence Day. But, just like with the winter break, we use June as a buffer for anything that didn’t get done in the spring without having to be on a full schedule.

We still have plenty of time to enjoy summer activities and sign up for camps or travel, but we don’t have the stress of finishing by a certain date. I turn in grades to our umbrella school June 15, and whatever isn’t don’t by then we just do for our own benefit of the knowledge without worrying about an official record. Usually there’s only a few lessons left of anything that would need grading, or the work left is in subjects that are simply pass or fail anyway so this works for us.

What are the Best Benefits of Homeschooling Year-Round for Us?
Taking time off for things that are important to us as family. We aren’t beholden to the traditional school year calendar so we can thoroughly enjoy the winter holidays. Last year my older daughter was in a big, fancy production of the Nutcracker ballet, and the rehearsals through November and December took up hours and hours of our week. We didn’t have to worry about trying to maintain a regular schoolwork schedule, and she could fully dedicate herself to dance and enjoy the experience while I kept my sanity.

We can take off for birthdays and go do something fun for the day at the request of the birthday kid with no worries about the schoolwork that needs doing. And because we have the buffers of December and June to finish up each semester, we can easily take a spur of the moment trip or extra day off for visiting with family. Most importantly, the kids can spend time with their dad any time he is off instead of being stuck doing schoolwork during those precious hours only to be off when he’s deployed or gone training. Since we can’t always plan ahead for when he will be home vs. gone, being able to wing it goes a long way.

We don’t have to stress about holding to super hard deadlines as long as we are consistently working most days through each subject with the goal of being halfway by Christmas, and finished by June. This allows me to throw off the chains of my OCD tendencies to schedule us by the minute and go with what works. If we want to read an extra chapter of a novel together? We do it. If we want to spend all day doing science for the whole week’s assignments and then work on the other subjects the other days? We do it. As long as we are generally on track, it’s not an issue. And as the kids grow, that time management will be more and more their responsibility instead of mine which is very freeing with three children to homeschool at once. As long as they complete the week’s work, it won’t matter in what order or which days.

What are the Downfalls of Homeschooling Year-Round for Us?
As you can probably tell, we don’t schedule super rigidly so sometimes this can lead to a false sense of having endless time to “get to it later”. Don’t do that! It ends in a mad dash to catch up in December and June that definitely doesn’t add to the joy of those seasons. I have to be mindful that if we don’t legitimately have something else going on that requires our commitment that day, we NEED to do school and work through the majority of our subjects. I cannot get complacent with such an open schedule and put things off, and this is a lesson I learned the hard way during the first couple of years of implementing this schedule. But I prefer this need to be mindful to the stress of a rigid schedule because I would start to stress out, and my mental health would suffer for it, every time we’d finish a day without getting all of the boxes checked. For us, having a more relaxed approach is a better balance of our time and energies.

If you’ve considered year-round homeschooling, I hope this post has given you a little insight into the pros and cons and given you some ideas. You don’t have to follow my schedule; that’s the beauty of it. You can homeschool around the events and seasons that are important for your family and adjust fire for unexpected things that occur throughout the school year without letting a schedule dictate your every move. After all, if you’re like me you didn’t choose homeschooling so you could stress about checking the boxes of a curriculum and not be able to take time to enjoy life and your kids. For me, maintaining patience is key to enjoying my kids and ensuring they build fond memories of their time at home. Homeschooling year-round has allowed me to do that much better than in the past, as long as I remain mindful that we get work done with regularity.