Why Homeschool is like a Jigsaw Puzzle! Part 4

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Welcome to Part 4 of a 5 Part series on
Why Homeschool is Like A Jigsaw Puzzle.

Homeschool is like a Jigsaw Puzzle

In this series you will learn how to sort all your straight pieces (the frame or outline) of your homeschool puzzle so you can start laying down your foundation and ease into the big beautiful picture that is homeschooling. There is so much to learn and absorb about homeschooling that you may feel a bit overwhelmed in the beginning. I am hoping to encourage you and get you through the start process with a bit of ease. That’s my goal at least. Once you get started it isn’t so bad – just like creating a puzzle.

Welcome to Part 4 of the Jigsaw Puzzle Homeschool Series.
 Be sure not to miss any of the posts in this series.

  1. Sorting your Puzzle Pieces and your Laws and Choices.
  2. Finding your Homeschool Style.
  3. Finding out what Type of Homeschooler you are.
  4. Creating a Schedule.  <<<you are here
  5. Curriculum


In Parts 1, 2, & 3, I suggested you grab yourself a sheet of paper and label your steps. Under those steps you are writing what you want to research or what you already know you want to do to fulfill your homeschool journey. In Part 4 (step 4) we will be focusing on Schedules.

Allow me to take a moment to discuss the type of schedules I am referring to. There are different schedules; a yearly schedule and a daily schedule. The first one I am specifying is your yearly schedule. How many days you will school. How many months you will school and in which month you will begin and end your school year.  After the yearly schedule we will brief on a daily schedule.

One of the many blessings of homeschooling is all the options you have. A great option to add to that list is your schedule. You have the liberty to create a schedule that works best for you and your home.

Yes, I am aware that I sound a bit like a broken record when I refer to the many blessings of homeschooling. I refer to that phrase quite often. — {wait! …what is a record? — do we have these anymore? :)} *Record = affectionately know as a HUGE CD by one of our kids! I still laugh about that one!

Not everyone has the typical 9-5, Monday thru Friday job. Some of you might have husbands that work a night shift, or travel often. You (the primary teacher) might work from home or have a job that requires you to be away from the home. Others might be single parents who homeschool. No matter what your circumstance is, there is a schedule out there for you.

You have the ability to create a schedule that works for you and your homeschool and there is no right or wrong. Not matter what everyone else is doing! – This is a big one folks! Don’t compare yourselves to what every other homeschooler is doing. Comparing will leave you feeling inadequate, stressed, and like you want to give it all up.

Got your list ready?

Here we go!

Moving on to Step 4.

Step 4:

  • Yearly Schedule

There are many options when it comes to how you can plan your yearly schedule.

  • Public School Schedule

  – You can schedule your homeschool year along with your county’s public school schedule. Scheduling your days off when they have days off. Taking breaks when they schedule breaks – such as Christmas break and Spring break. This will afford you taking the summers off.

There are pro’s and con’s to this schedule. (just as there is in every schedule)

  • Pro’s

-You may have friends or family that attend public school. You will have the ability to get together with them when school is out.

-Long Summer Breaks: taking a few months off to refresh in the summer after a tight scheduled school year. Enjoying summertime activities.

-Using the public school schedule takes less time to figure out and takes any guesswork out of having to create your own schedule because the days are already set for you. You simply follow along.

  • Con’s

-Places are busier when public school is out and in some cases prices are higher. Making reservations may be a bit more challenging because the summer is a busier time.

-Taking long summer breaks can lead to what I call “squishy brain” for everyone. (including you, mom) It is harder to get back into ‘school mode’ when you have had a few months off and long summer days. As well, it has been my experience that some of what was taught last year may have to be repeated the beginning of the current year because it was forgotten. Ugh!
Additionally, long summer breaks can lead to boredom.

-Having a restricted amount of days with not much room for unexpected days off can leave you scrambling at the end of the year to fill in and make up days missed.
*Say everyone gets sick – twice!  You now have 2 weeks to make up for. There isn’t much room for adjustment in a public school schedule. Life does happen!

If you feel like this is an option you would like to explore, all you need to do is search (Google) what your public school’s calendar is. Often times the schedule can be printed out for your convenience.

  • Creating Your Own Schedule

You can create your own schedule by simply knowing how many days you are required to school in your state. (this was in Step 1)
For instance, the state we live in requires 180 days. It doesn’t matter in which months we school or even the day of the week. As long as we show school attendance for a minimum of 180 days.

Here are some examples of how you can create a schedule for your school if you want to have a long summer break.

July – April   {taking May & June off, even some of July if needed}
August – May  {taking June & July with some of August if needed}
September – June {you can start after the Labor Day holiday}

Creating Your Schedule
1. You will need to figure out how many weeks you need to fulfill for your state’s daily attendance requirements.
2. You will then figure out how many weeks are within the months you choose to homeschool.
3. Any remaining weeks left over after the required weeks are the weeks you can schedule off.

Example Schedule
*using the July – April schedule

Between July and April there are 43 weeks. The required school days are 180 days. That’s 36 weeks of required school. This leaves me 7 weeks to schedule off. I can plug in where I feel we will need to take off. Such as 2 weeks during Christmas, maybe the week of Thanksgiving. I now have 4 weeks left I can schedule off. One idea would be to schedule time off every 8 weeks – meaning on the 9th week out, you will schedule that week off. Or, you can leave your extra weeks open and fill in the 4 weeks when you feel needed, rather than pre-plan your weeks off.

These are just samples. There are many different options.

If you believe that creating a schedule is the best fit for you then I urge you to play around with one a bit. One very important lesson you will learn after you begin homeschooling is that there are a lot of adjustments that will be made. What fits for you one year may not the next. Rearranging, adjusting, changing, tossing, or quitting what doesn’t work, never worked or no longer works is what will keep your homeschool alive and kicking. If you only knew how many ‘things’ I’ve changed over the years it would make your head spin.

I use this calendar from this site to help plan out my attendance for the school year. You may find it helpful as well.

  • Year Round Schedule

A year round schedule is a schedule that allows you to take multiple smaller breaks throughout the year. Allowing you flexibility with your school days.

Year round homeschooling does not imply that you are nose down in school books all year with no coming up to breathe. Quite the contrary actually. Year round homeschoolers (those who use a year round schedule) often feel they actually have way more freedom in their school year. They take multiple breaks to ‘break up’ the daily grind.

Here are the Pro’s & Con’s to a year round schedule.

  • Pro’s

-As mentioned above, there is much flexibility in this type of schedule. Life can happen and there is room to take off for those unexpected days. You will not be scrambling to fit in days that you missed at the end of the year because there are plenty of ‘school’ days in a year round schedule.

-You can pick a time in the year that public school is still in session to vacation. Places are often less busy because public school is still in session and depending on the time of year, the weather might nicer.

-Even if you do not go on vacation, you can take a day, a few days or a week off when the weather is nice and go for a hike, a nature walk or even just a day of playing in the yard. Now, these types of days wouldn’t necessarily be ‘planned’ days off, rather than last minute decisions to enjoy the beautiful earth we live on. You will have plenty of days you can take off because with a year round schedule there are a good deal of ‘extra’ days.

-Breaking up long periods of school work. You might choose to school 4 weeks and then take the 5th week off. This works well for unit studies. You may choose a 4-6 week unit study and take off when it’s complete. Giving everyone a bit of a break before you start your next one.
This also works well for younger children, although it can work great for all ages.

Taking breaks every 4-6 weeks also helps those who don’t plan an entire school year in advance. I, myself, only plan a few weeks out at a time. The reason I do this is, there may be a time when your child may understand the concept of his lesson way ahead of the already planned lesson schedule. There is no reason to keep dragging on a lesson that is already understood. On the other hand, your child may not fully understand his lesson and may need additional time on that particular subject. If you haven’t allotted the additional time you may find yourself stressed and feel pressed for time because “it’s not on the lesson plan”. Leaving yourself behind on a lesson plan can become very hectic and bring on much unwanted stress.

Additionally, you can always take a full month off if that suites your needs. There really are no rules to how a year round schedule can be made. Again, no wrong or right way as long as you fulfill the required days – you are golden!

Sometimes the transition is almost seamless from one year to the next because there hasn’t been a long lull and everyone stays focused and on track.

  • Con’s

-As mentioned above, if you have close friends or relatives that you get together with on public school days or enjoy making plans for the summer, than year round may not be for you.

-You might be in a position where you can only take off or vacation in the summer months.

-Sometimes, some homeschoolers just simply require taking a few months off during summertime. They just need those few months to relax, unwind, and chill. Maybe one parent is a public school teacher and they are home during the summer months.

Homeschool is like a Jigsaw Puzzle

You see, the choice is yours! With so many options , you are sure to find or create a yearly homeschool schedule that will work for you.

  • Daily Schedule

Creating a daily schedule can feel a little scary at first. How long should we be on one subject? How many hours a day should we school? How many subjects should I teach daily? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Do we school all 5 days during the week?

The questions can be many – and – painful when you don’t feel you know the answers. Below I am going to list a guideline that just might help you with some of those answers. *Please keep in mind that this is merely a suggested guideline. You will need to adjust depending on your child’s needs. You may need more or less time for certain subjects. You may also choose not to teach these subjects in this order or the same amount of days. Please, please, do not look at this as the concrete time schedule for your homeschool day. Adjust accordingly and make it work for you. Just use it as a guide.

Suggested Subjects to Teach



 Language Arts:

Handwriting-2 days a week
Spelling/Vocabulary-3 days a week
Grammar-2 days a week
Writing/Composition-2 or 3 days a week

History & Science:

2 days a week (if you are not using unit studies)

*You can alternate History and Science – you can do History one week and Science
the next or you can do History for 6 weeks then Science for 6 weeks.
**If you are teaching younger children you can also wait until they
learn their 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) before moving on to History or Science.

Art & Music:

1 day a week -or- every 4th Friday
*You can also take the summer months to learn Art & Music



Foreign Language:

daily -or- 1– 2 times a week


 75 minutes a week

Health & Safety:

2 classes per year

Computer Skills:

1 day a week -or- computer skills can be incorporated in with
any online subjects you might be doing

Average Teaching Time per Subject
Seat Time

K-3rd:  10-20 minutes
4th-6th:   20-45 minutes
7th-12th:   45 minutes or longer

A school day can last 2-4 hours (or longer in middle school & high school)
If you fall short of the 2 hour mark from time to time don’t panic, it’s okay!
*Once you begin you will learn everyone’s limits. Your times may a bit more or a bit less.

I hope my suggestions are clear and help you decide what types of schedules will work for you.

I’m not going to sugar coating things, folks! You will have days where you will question your sanity for taking on such a task as homeschool. If you have most of the components of homeschooling figured out then you can easily adjust where needed. Did you catch that? You can adjust where needed!  Know this – write it down in your teacher planner book if you need to. Memorize it! The Joy — just like your other choices — there is not a one-size-fits-all schedule and making a schedule that works for you is the key to a bit more peaceful day for you and your children. There will be insane days (trust me {{wink -wink}}) but hopefully it won’t be because of your schedule.

*You are almost finished sorting your straight pieces and building your outline*

Step 4 = Complete!


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