A Heart of Dakota Life
Scheduling Your Homeschooling Year with a Calendar
With Heart of Dakota, you can begin homeschooling at any time! Heart of Dakota does not link its plans to seasons, months, or days of the week. So, your ‘start’ and ‘end’ of your homeschool year might be different than the more traditional mid-August to May school year. Our ‘start’ is usually in September after Labor Day. Usually our ‘end’ is at the end of May at the latest. Whenever your ‘start’ and ‘end’ of the year may be, scheduling your homeschooling year with a calendar can help you keep the big picture in mind.
An overall pacing goal is to complete a Heart of Dakota guide each year.
In general, an overall pacing goal can be to complete one Heart of Dakota each year. This keeps students steadily progressing in their homeschooling. Taking calendar in hand and mapping out when approximately homeschooling will be done usually ensures we get it done. I also take great satisfaction in knowing we are on track and steadily moving toward our finish date! Or, if we are getting off-track, I can see our year will go longer, and that usually motivates me to get back on track. It motivates my kiddos to stay on track too! We love our homeschooling, but we love our summers off too!
You can use a calendar-at-a-glance when scheduling your homeschool year.
Although we don’t follow our public school’s schedule for homeschooling, I do like to use their calendar. It fits on one piece of paper, and it has holidays noted (though not always by the name I call them as a Christian). I print off the calendar and use a pencil to circle whatever I know we need to take off for the year. This helps me map out the year in general, which gives me a better idea of when I need to start so I end when I want to end!
Seven Things to Consider When Choosing a Start and End Date for Homeschooling
There are seven things I think are helpful to consider when choosing a start and an end date for a homeschooling year. I’m sure there are more! But, at least for me, these are the biggies!
First, consider state standards for homeschooling.
It is always best to make sure you are meeting state standards when choosing your start and end date for homeschooling. You may need to do standardized testing at certain grade levels and times of the year, so this may impact your start and end date. It may be necessary to ‘report’ your homeschooling progress each year to a principal, an assigned mentor/teacher, or an umbrella school. You can check current state standards at HSLDA’s website.
Second, it is a good idea to consider your weather.
Weather can play a big role in when it is best to homeschool! Winters in South Dakota are lovely to see, but often it is best to view them from inside a warm home looking out a window! So, we homeschool ‘hard’ through the winters. Even if we are on ‘4 day a week guides,’ for example, we complete 5 days’ worth of plans during most of the winter. If you live in Florida or in Arizona, you might homeschool ‘hard’ through the hot, hot summers.
Third, jobs may impact homeschooling.
Jobs can really impact homeschooling. Maybe your husband is in the military, maybe your husband travels, or maybe you have a part-time job as well. My husband travels a lot and is especially busy through pheasant hunting season, as he also guides. I also travel to book fairs for my work at Heart of Dakota, so this is something to consider as well.
Fourth, travel plans effect homeschooling.
When you travel can really impact when you are able to homeschool. Though some homeschool families travel all the time and make it work very well, for many families travel happens more occasionally, which means ‘normal’ homeschooling is harder to do. Vacations, weddings, graduations, holidays, and business trips all should be part of the overall plan for homeschooling. We often plan these things ahead of time, so adding them to the overall plan for the year just makes sense.
Fifth, sick days should be added.
Hopefully not many sick days will be needed, but planning ahead for them helps it not be such a surprise should you need them! Unplanned outings, such as my husband’s taking the boys fishing or hunting when the weather or his schedule cooperates are part of this as well. I usually plan a cushion of 2 weeks for unexpected days we need to take off, and that has usually been enough.
Sixth, you might want to spread out your first week of plans over 2 weeks.
If you are new to Heart of Dakota and beginning multiple guides or upper guides, you might want to spread out your first week of plans. This can be as simple as taking 2 weeks to do 1 week’s worth of plans. Yes, this will add a week to your homeschool year, but solid training of how to do the guide properly at the start helps your student get the most out of the guide for the entire year.
Seventh, pacing can be slowed to half-speed at the start if need be.
Especially if your child is on the youngest side of the target age range of a guide, if you start to find he/she needs more time to grow into it, you can always change to half-speed for awhile. You would still homeschool on the days you’d planned to on your general calendar. However, you’d just do the guide half-speed for awhile. This can look many ways, but in general, half-speed just means taking 1 day’s worth of plans and spreading the boxes over 2 days. Half-speed for awhile can be a nice “Plan B” pacing option.
Circle any dates on your year-at-a-glance calendar that fit the above 7 Biggies.
Once I’ve met with my husband, called my extended family, chatted with our kiddos, and considered my thoughts on the matter too, I pull out my calendar. I circle any dates I know we need or want to take off. From this, I could determine when we needed to start, so we could finish when I wanted to finish. For example, here are some dates I circled that we planned to take off this past homeschool year…
- Aug. 30 – Sept. 3: family vacation
- Dec. 8: b-day for son
- Nov. 13-17: boys deer hunt with Dad
- Nov. 23: Thanksgiving hosted at my house
- Dec. 15 and Dec. 22: Fridays to Christmas shop and bake goodies
- Dec. 25-28: Christmas vacation
- Dec. 29-Jan. 2: travel to wedding in TX
- Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day
- Mar. 8: b-day for son
- Mar. 9: fishing with Dad while I’m at book fair
- Mar. 26: b-day for son
- Mar. 30: fishing with Dad
- Mar. 13: fishing with Dad while I’m at book fair
- May: overflow sick days as needed
In closing, I realize that life often does not always go according to plan.
Life does not always go according to plan, and I realize the best laid plans of man are not always the best plans. Truly only God makes the ‘best’ plans. However, we do have an orderly God, Who loves to make good plans for us. I have always found it best to try to display this character trait of His in my life by planning ahead the best I can for my homeschooling. If it doesn’t go according to my plan, then His plan took over, and that’s all the better! However, with a plan in hand, I can make homeschooling my children in a Godly way a priority, and I’ve always found He seems to honor that. Happy planning, ladies!