Homeschool, like traditional schools, is based on a year period of time for planning and assessment purposes; progress through a student's education is measured by grade level. There is lots of work you need to do to prepare for a school year; some of this work has to be done only once or periodically, while parts of the work are done annually or more frequently. The major tasks involved in preparing to homeschool are in the following table.
Major Tasks to Prepare to Teach
|Task||When to Do It|
|Assess each student's education level||3-4 months before each school year|
|Determine each student's personality and learning style||3-4 months before you start homeschooling, depending on the child's age|
|Choose topics for the upcoming school year||3-4 months before each school year|
|Design a curriculum for each topic||3-4 months before each school year|
|Identify field trips to support your curricula||3-4 months before each school year |
As possible during the year
|Identify activities to support your curricula||3-4 months before each school year |
As possible during the year
|Identify outside classes or tutors for your curricula||3-6 months before each school year|
|Identify unit studies, if used||3-4 months before each school year|
|Obtain and prepare teaching materials for the upcoming year||1-3 months before each school year|
|Prepare a classroom||3-4 months before you start homeschooling|
|Create and update lesson plans|| 1-2 months before each school year |
As needed throughout the year
|Withdraw student from public school (if needed)||3-4 months before you start homeschooling|
A School Year By Any Other Name
Although homeschool is like "regular" school in that it is based on a school year, the definition of a year is really up to you. You can define what a school year is based on your personal preferences, such as the schedule you like to keep, vacation plans, and so on. As long as you meet your state's legal requirement regarding the number of days your students must attend school, how you schedule those days is up to you. Here are some options you can consider:
- A traditional school year. Homeschoolers who use this model keep to a traditional school year that starts in the late summer or early fall, has a Christmas break, has a spring break, and ends in the late spring or early summer. The summer months are off (for the students of course; homeschool managers use this "off time," which will be used for planning the next year).
- Year-round school. Some traditional schools use this approach, too. Instead of taking a large break during the summer, several longer breaks are taken throughout the year and school continues throughout the year.
- Hybrid approach. Some homeschoolers take longer breaks during the year and include a shortened summer break, which is still longer than all the other breaks during the year.
- Speaking of breaks, another advantage of homeschooling is that you can easily plan family vacations at off-peak times for lower costs and fewer crowds. For example, you might take your summer vacation in early September when most public schools have started. You will be amazed at how much less such vacations cost and how much more fun they are because everything is less crowded.