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Homeschool Question: About the School Year Calendar
I’m trying to create my school year calendar but I’m coming up short by 15 days.
I want to start in September and end in May, but that only gives me 165 days. I’m just not sure if I can be ready by the middle of August and don’t want to extend into June.
My oldest will be PreK if that helps.Anonymous Mom. Quote paraphrased.
Answer: How to Easily Add School Hours & Days to Your Calendar
The mom who asked this question was concerned about accumulating the correct number of school days in the upcoming school year.
There are a number of ways that you can supplement a traditional school-at-home curriculum model with additional school days.
We all know that kids take field trips in both private school and public school. They have parties, watch documentaries, attend assemblies, and do other non-textbook activities.
Those activities count toward their school days and your non-textbook activities count toward your child’s school hours and days too.
Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast!
In this episode, we answer three questions. Tune in to hear the answers!
Here are some activities that you might be able to count toward your school days.
- Museum visits.
- Library visits.
- Public, private, or charter school programs geared toward homeschooled children.
- Youth programs such as drama clubs, sports programs, outdoor recreation, etc.
- Homeschool group activities, camps, or conventions.
- Community or recreation center activities.
- Church activities.
- Outdoor recreation.
- Nature center activities.
- Group lessons like ballet, art, gymnastics, martial arts.
- Recreation center activities.
- Private lessons and tutoring for music classes, reading, golf, etc.
- Family vacations.
- Online education like the Backpack Sciences membership and courses.
Here’s the truth, your kids are learning all of the time. Oftentimes, you are doing things that might not be curriculum based, but they are innately educational. Some of these activities can count toward your school hours and days.
Examples of Educational Days that are Not Curriculum Based: Family Vacation at the Museum
My name is Jackie and I’m the host of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast. I’d like to share an examples of non-textbook education that could certainly count as a school day. This is the way that we spent one day on a family vacation.
One summer, we went to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. At this museum we learned about the following.
- The Vikings. An eye-opening exhibit that featured viking trade routes, armor, and much more.
- Dinosaurs. The largest collection of North American dinosaur fossils from in and around Montana.
- History of Montana. Exhibits from early exploration through the mid 20th century.
Other Educational Activities on Our Family Vacation
On this particular family vacation, nearly every single day could have been counted as a school day. Here are some other places that we went.
- Bear, Wolf, and Wildlife Refuge.
- Yellowstone National Park.
- Grand Tetons.
- Hiked in Bozeman.
- Montana State University Tour.
There was something truly educational at nearly every place that we went. From additional museums to information about geysers, there were unlimited opportunities to learn.
More Ways to Build on an Educational Vacation
- Read books about your destination.
- Watch documentaries about the geography, history, and culture of a place.
- Scrapbook your vacation. You could count this as art and handwriting practice.
- Budget for your trip and review the expenses upon return.
- Use a road atlas to plan your route, calculate miles, and estimate fuel costs.
Your Yearly School Schedule
Unless your state or country requires that you follow your school district’s yearly calendar, school can happen in any month or on any day of the week. Rather than cramming all of your school days into the typical nine month school year, it’s worth considering spreading your school days throughout the year.
Does it really matter what month or days of the week that your school days fall on?
The point is that your children learn and apply what they have learned. As a society, we have been well trained to follow the traditional school model. It’s worth examining examining your belief system around education and considering other ideas.
Regardless of whether it’s in February or July, a weekend or a normal school day, field trip days and non-textbook educational days can count toward your mandated educational requirements.
Learn About Your State’s or Country’s Homeschool Requirements
If you have homeschool questions about your school year calendar regulations , then be sure to visit this article about your state or country’s homeschooling requirements
Everyday Educational Opportunities
While you can find ways to add hours and days to your school calendar outside the home, you can easily do this from home as well. Here are a few more ways that you can easily incorporate everyday activities into your life and make them more educational.
- Learn about nutrition and read nutrition labels.
- Read together or individually often.
- Explore various types of exercise and integrate healthy living into your daily life.
- Play math games, spelling games, and other games frequently.
- Watch educational documentaries.
Planning Your School Year
The mom who asked these homeschool questions is likely using traditional curriculum. She probably knows how many lessons are in each book and is spreading the lessons out over the course of the school year. She has figured out how to get 165 days in the year, but isn’t sure how to get the other 15 days.
By integrating field trip type days and other activities into her school year calendar, it should be relatively simple to reach the 180 days of school that are required in the state that she lives in.
Help Your Children Develop a Love of Learning
It’s important to remember that you want to help your children develop a true love of learning. It’s also important to remember that while learning and education are important, they don’t need to happen at school or even in a school like setting. There are many ways that children can learn.
Homeschooling a Preschooler
As a homeschooling mom, I’ve done it right and I’ve done it wrong.
Here’s what I did wrong. When my oldest turned five, I felt the need to start doing “school-at-home.”
While my child had been learning quite well through games, experiences, and reading for fun, I began to focus on completing curriculum rather than learning a concept in whatever way was best for her.
In addition, I also felt the need to push my three-year-old into doing “school” at the kitchen table too.
In hindsight, I recognize that pushing my three-year-old to start “school” so young was counter-productive. Education from workbooks should be an invitation, not a requirement, for young children.
Connection Before Curriculum
As a result of my observations, visiting with other homeschooling parents, and my own challenges, I’ve created this motto: “Connection Before Curriculum.”
It is my strong belief that your connection with your child should always come before curriculum.
As homeschooling parents, it is easy to get so focused on completing the curriculum each day that you may damage your relationship with your child. If you remember to always put connection before curriculum, your homeschooling journey will be much better.
As parents, none of us want to discourage our children from developing a love of learning. In my opinion, if you don’t want your children to resist learning, then you need to invite them to learn rather than push them to learn.
Learning should be fun and enjoyable. If the lessons you are trying to teach are causing tears for your child and frustration for you, then you need to postpone the lesson or find a better way to help your child learn the concept.
Recommendation for Pre-K Children
Provide educational opportunities for young children, but don’t worry about doing school with your pre-k child.
There is a tremendous difference between your child learning and doing school. Learning is necessary while “doing school” can actually be detrimental to young children.
Young children learn best through play. Most people learn better through experience rather than reading about something.
In the book, Free To Learn by Peter Gray, he explains the value of play, the science behind it, and how children learn naturally.
Join a Local Homeschooling Support Group and Get Your Homeschool Questions Answered!
Whether your child is pre-kindergarten or school age, find a homeschooling group in your area and give your children the opportunity to play with and get together with other kids.
If you need help learning how to find a local homeschool group, please see this article.
From this Episode of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
I think that if you try to make your four year old sit down at the kitchen table or at a little desk, or what have you, every single day and do specific lessons, that you are going to start killing their innate desire to learn. And your goal as a homeschooling parent, one of your goals, is to help your children develop a true love of learning.
Education and learning are really important. School, in my opinion is not so important.
So help your children develop a desire to learn. Don’t squash their desire to learn by forcing them to do things that they are simply not developmentally ready for.Jackie, Host of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
We always share more in our podcast episodes than we can possibly share in an article, so be sure to listen to this podcast episode.
Listen to More Homeschool Questions and Answers!
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You Might Also Like These Articles and Podcast Episodes
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- Let’s Talk About Learning.
- How to Start Homeschooling.
- More Resources on Our Blog.
- Books about Education, Homeschooling, and More.
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