Your Term

One of the most common problems moms have when planning is trying to jump directly from their Year Plan to their Daily Schedule. I’ve found it a lot easier to take smaller steps rather than that one big jump.

First, break up your year into three sections. Charlotte Mason called them “terms.” (If you would rather call them something else, that’s fine. At least you’ll know what I’m talking about when I refer to Terms.) Since most school years cover about 36 weeks, it’s easy to divide those 36 weeks into three 12-week Terms. You can decide when you want those Terms to begin and end during the year, depending on which weeks you do school work and when you take your breaks.

Once you’ve determined your three Terms, take your resources and decide how you want to use them during those three Terms. It’s easiest to just make three columns on a sheet of paper and label them Term 1, Term 2, Term 3. Next, write down each resource’s name and make a note of how many divisions (chapters, lessons, modules, etc.) you want to use from it this year.

Now, if you want to complete all of that resource’s divisions during Term 1, write that total number in the column under Term 1. If you want to split it out evenly between Term 1 and Term 2, write how many divisions you want to cover in each Term’s column. If you want to spread out that resource and use it all year, split its divisions evenly between all three Terms.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a short biography that has 8 chapters. You want to read it all during Term 1, so you would list the title and put an 8 in the Term 1 column beside it (since it has 8 chapters). (That number will come in handy during the next step in the process: planning your week.)

Maybe you also have a science book that you want to use all year long. It has 15 modules, so you would list the title and put a 5 under Term 1, a 5 under Term 2, and a 5 under Term 3, showing that you want to complete 5 modules each Term in order to complete the entire book during this year.

This step of the planning process is not difficult, but doing it can give you a great overview of how you plan to use your resources during the year and how you can break that year into manageable chunks. When you look at your plans at this stage, you can get a feel for whether you are overloading one Term or slacking off in another Term.

Planning your Terms also lays a great foundation for figuring out how many days per week to do each subject. We’ll show you how next time.

Just wondering: How many of you stick to a traditional nine-months-on-three-months-off school year? Or do you get in your 36 weeks a different way (three weeks on, one week off all year; three months on, one month off all year; four days a week all year; etc.)? Leave a comment and let us know.

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33 Responses to “Your Term”

  1. Lynnette Shafer April 9, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    Great “Part 4” planning article! Just wanted to comment on how we “do school”. Typically, we start at the end of August, try to get in 5 whole days and take major breaks at Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. However, I purposely schedule a “light” day for Friday or if we have a skipped day during the week we make it up on Friday. We also have family and other obligations to meet so we are very flexible. To make up for that we take all of June off and go lightly with the core subjects and lots of living books in July. I’ll be interested to read what the rest of you do. Can’t wait!

  2. Aimee April 10, 2008 at 6:13 am #

    Thanks for this great post! This will be our 2nd year hs and we got off to a bit of a rocky start last year simply because I didn’t plan well. This series has been quite helpful.

    As for how we “do school”, I wish I could answer that! I feel like we have been inconsistent in our school days from week to week. We have managed to get in our required number of days simply by checking them off on a calendar. However, I am looking for a better plan for next year. The times we have taken a week off here and there, my children have been asking when are we going to have school again! So, I don’t think three months (or even one month) is a feasible plan for us at this stage. We have looked into year-round so I am very interested to see how others implement it in their families, i.e., what do you do when you reach your required days? how many days per week?

  3. Trisch April 10, 2008 at 1:32 pm #

    We usually start in August, but go slowly. If the green beans need canned or it’s blueberry time, we take off the needed time! We get more serious towards the end of August. We like to take the month of December completely off if possible!

    Starting the second week in January, we go until mid-June, but we take time off here and there–perhaps to help Grandma clean house, or work for the elections committee, a “snow day” (that means a good “the snow is packing for a snowman” day!) or “spring days” (those first few wonderful out-of-season warm spring days!)! It gives flexibility to the schedule while keeping the overall picture in mind!

    I even count their preparation for their 4-H projects during June (our fair is early July) as they are doing lots of writing and learning then! 🙂

    I like this planning series, because although I like our yearly schedule overall, sometimes the nitty gritty figuring it out to cover things gets tough!

    Thank you for this series!


  4. Lisa Siegle April 10, 2008 at 1:42 pm #

    Our academic year lasts for 36 weeks. About every six weeks of study, we take a full week “off” from the lessons. We take an entire month off over Christmas to the middle of January. For the summer, we take six weeks off and begin our new academic year the middle of August.

    This works for us. Less burnout for students and teacher!

    • Leah March 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

      I love this schedule! I’m digging out my calendar to see how I might be able to make this work for us 🙂

  5. Jennifer April 10, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    We do a traditional scedule that follows our district’s school year. We don’t take their snow days or teacher inservice days or anything but we follow their breaks. This works for our family since we live in a neighborhood with many children yet we are the only family that homeschools. When the public school has half days we always get a knock on the door in the a.m. I also love summer and enjoy “ending” our school year and starting “fresh” in the fall.
    jen in MI

  6. Nancy April 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    We do school all year round taking time off for holidays, intown family, etc.

  7. Joan E. Adkins April 10, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    I always felt it was a deception in the lives of children to have three to four months off for the summer break and upon entering the working world find that you don’t get a vacation for at least 6months or a year; and then it is one or two weeks at best! So from the beginning we worked at our academics for 5 weeks and then took one week off –year round.
    We add two extra weeks off near Christmas and two extra weeks off in August. This allowed us to record 180 ‘school days’ per year to fulfill our legal agreement with the state to teach the same number of days as the public school but left us lots of freedom of adjustment for our own lives.

  8. Sharon Nelson April 11, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    We are traditional. We use 4 quarters (9 wks ea.). I don’t report to the state, but our homeschool group makes it mandatory for their group.

  9. Valerie April 11, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    I like to continue some sort of education all year round. From mid-August to the end of March, we stay with a regular CM-type schedule, though not necessarily broken up into “terms.” In April and May we change up our style and focus. We might take two or three new subject areas and focus on them to the exclusion of other subjects, or –gasp — even let the kids find new things to study on internet4classrooms. Summer is for outdoor science and lots of leisure reading. Next year my oldest will start high school. I plan to organize her year into 3 more official terms next year.

  10. Sheryl Fowler April 11, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    This was so encouraging to me. I did something very similar this year with both of my kid’s schedule. It stills needs tweeking, so I will following the guidelines you gave. Thanks so much!

    As far as our yearly schedule, we still follow the typical model with some exceptions. This summer however, I think we will do more “school” than in the past, but maybe not a full days worth. My kids still need it.

  11. Juliet Betzelberger April 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    This is the first year we’ve done a non-traditional school year. We’re following a 4-week on / 1 week off with a planned 4 week break mid-July – early August. I’ve already juggled a little to accomodate church camp and grandpa trips with the kids, but it has that flexibility built in. As a matter of fact, I’ll have “enough” days in that if I want to skip the rest of August, that would be okay too. I love having the week to plan my next unit and get some cooking ahead and some deeper cleaning done as well as meet a friend for lunch or get out shopping a little. I’m planning on starting our days a little earlier in the summer so we can have our afternoons more or less free to play with neighborhood kids, garden, swim, etc.

  12. Fatima April 11, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    I do approximately 3 weeks on and one week off but we have lots of flex in this. We take about 3 weeks off at Christmas. We also do a little of the longer subjects like math over the summer. The law in my state says we have to provide the “equivalent to 180 days with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours” It was freeing to me to realize that this doesn’t mean 180 days doing every subject. We may spend 180 days doing math and english but not all subjects. Also 4 1/2 hours of school is easy if you include the many natural learning opportunities in the home and field trips we can utilize as home schoolers. I’d have to really cut back to only do 4 1/2 hours for 180 days!

  13. Valerie R. April 11, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    We schedule a break week about every 8-9 weeks. It works out better for us if we take some breaks when friends in public school take them. If that means we have to go longer than 9 weeks without a break, I’ll schedule a day off. We also do 3 half-days/week in the summer to keep up with math and reading. Then we have no school for about 3 weeks in August-September while I get organized for the “official” start to our new school year.

  14. Misty April 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    This is only our 2nd year and I have learned a lot. Last year (being our 1st) we followed the district calander almost to a “T”. Things didn’t go well. I thought it was do to curriculm so I switched some and well things aren’t going so well this year either..

    Guess what I found out.. my boys don’t do well with long breaks! So this year we will be doing 1/2days of school during the summer. Still time with friends but not getting so off track I want to scream come full swing.

  15. Brenda April 11, 2008 at 8:08 pm #

    We do 4 day weeks Monday – Thursday all year long. With occasional “crazy” weeks where we have to start again because we’ve gotten behind. We are extremely flexible but learning tons at the same time!!!!!!!!

  16. Lori April 11, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    We do school year-round. We have a mandatory 180 day school year in our state. We do considerably more then that. I have found that if we take a 3 month break it is very difficult to get reesatablished. We like to garage sale on Fridays and just take schoolwork with us. We sleep in (8:30-9:00) and range anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours a day depending on interest, difficult days, weather, Mom-burnout, etc. We schedule off-season vacations-camping in May and September. Somedays I feel overwhelmed and will only assign reading. We try to live a lifestyle of learning and doing some reading and writing everyday (almost) works better for us. We do enjoy most of December “off” though we are still doing crafts (handicrafts), baking (math and reading), reading classic Christmas stories (listening comprehension, narration), writing Christmas cards (handwriting, writing practice, sometimes dicatation), caroling (music) and such.

    • Natalie January 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      I love the “off-school” Christmas! We do some of the same traditional activities, but I can be a lot more attentive to their use to keep “schooling”. And, having my children write the Christmas cards is going to be great 🙂

      We live overseas, and have moved about every three years. There is so much opportunity to travel or visit sites, so it’s nice to be able to take off a day here and there. We tried the 6 weeks on, one week off, and it works sometimes, but we get thrown off when we move. So, I’ve decided to school every day, keep track of progress towards our goals, and take days off when needed.

      And, with changing my schedule, I really appreciate these posts on scheduling!

  17. Tina April 11, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    traditional school year with holiday breaks.

  18. Danielle April 12, 2008 at 6:55 am #

    We don’t do a traditional school year. We take longer off at Christmas. Then school from Jan thru the end of April with one week off for spring break. Then we school lightly through May. And we continue part of the week through the summer….mostly to continue our skills in math and reading and we are constantly reading great books.

  19. Ang April 12, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    We don’t stick to a particular schedule to get our school days in for the year. We typically “do school” each day of the week. Sometimes we are doing school subjects on the weekend because we’re enjoying them. When the public schools are out, he likes to take off to play with his friends, but sometimes they’re busy (or have homework on their “vacations”) so we do school anyway. This leaves us plenty of time free to take vacation whenever his dad is off work, or his grandfather wants to spend time with him or work with him; teaching him something. We never have any problem getting our days/hours in for the year. I keep a running log of days/hours so I can easily see if we need to do a few extra days or if we have some days to play with.

  20. Laura April 12, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    We have school days Monday through Thursday all year, taking off every Friday, everyone’s birthday (in the immediate family), and all government holidays because my husband has those days off. In our state we have to “do school” 172 days a year, so this leaves us several weeks of vacation time to spread out during the year. I save those for possible sick days, though it is rare that we are too sick to learn, as well as for a week of Grandma, though we often schedule educational field trips when she is here.

  21. Kimandtheboys April 12, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    9 month on, 3 months off, because of older children in public school.

  22. Kathy Stypula April 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    I have been doing lessons five days a week pretty much year round, but we take off two weeks in December to do all our Christmas things and usually take off the first week in January. We also take days off for short trips throughout the year that turn into a learning experience too. August is usually a short month for us. too, and we take off another two weeks. I have been starting the year in January since my son’s birthday is the end of December.

  23. Bunnie Claxton April 12, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    We school year round, but take time off when “life” situations require it. We took 2 weeks off to pass a cold around to every family member, one week off for most holidays (other than December, which we learn and play, but don’t consider it school) as well as a few week long vacations each year. We try the characterize our everyday life as fun learning and that is “life” for us; life long learning is meant to be a fun journey!

  24. Jenn4him April 13, 2008 at 12:56 pm #

    Hello. I am really enjoying this series on planning. To answer your question, we do stick to the traditional 9 months with 3 months off, although learning never really ends, just the record keeping! I will “bank” days in the summer of particularly educational days. Those banked days come in handy for things like sick days, doctor appointments, or a bad case of spring fever!
    I love your website. Thank you for all you do!

  25. Jennifer April 13, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    We’ll be starting our 9th year, and follow the “if Daddy works, then we school.” We generally are are a lot lighter during December-mid January and the summer (July-August).

  26. Mary Beth Akers April 13, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    We “school” year-round. Our basic schedule is 8 weeks on, 2 weeks off, with 4-day weeks in the summer. We are very flexible; if something comes up which justifies missing lessons, we take the day from our 2-week break. During the break, I try to get some meals in the freezer and tend to some deep cleaning that I tend to neglect when we’re busy with lessons. It works very well for us. We never get out of our routine for very long, so don’t have a readjustment period at the beginning of the year. We rarely have to waste time reviewing skills we have forgotten. And we can miss a day here and there without fretting about how we’re going to make it up.

  27. Heidi Betts April 14, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    This year we have used basically the 9 months on and probably 3 months off, but am considering 3months on 1 month off…we’ll see

  28. Dolleta Reeves April 14, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    My son is 6 and we have been pretty relaxed gently working on phonics and reading lots & lots of good books (he loves to be read to). We also are constantly looking at nature and read about it and have had all sorts of critter habitats in the house to look at. No real planning or scheduling this past year. We do school on any day except Sunday, working around my husbands day off and town day. My husband owns a retail store and I never know which day he is taking off and he likes for my son to have a light day or no school that day, so that he can work and spend time with Daddy. I think this is great for my son too. We have town day usually on Thurday, run errands and grocery etc., but we also visit my husbands grandmother and minister to her by running her errands and doing her grocery etc. this takes about 3 hours, but we enjoy and it is sooo good for my son. He feels so important and responsible that he gets the mail and grocery shops for Grandma Della. We also take her for doctor visits and to get taxes done etc. She is 100 years old and very important to us.

    So, it is a little difficult for me, but I really want to be able to do these important things for family and not neglect education. It does weigh on me!

    After attending your conference in Dacula, and purchasing your ‘Planning Bood’ I am so excited about doing long and short term plans. I am a planner by nature and operate best when organized. You make it soooo doable! I am organized in other areas, but with school I just felt so inexperienced and their are so many ways to do it! My husband is VERY spontaneous, and I really feel I need to seek his leadership concerning the education of our son, but with my husband’s spontaneous way of doing things planning his impossible for him.

    Soooo, now I can present what I am considering in a more organized and planned out way for him to consider. Thank you so much for helping us with this. We have a wonderful marriage, but this was a tough area for us!

    As far a sheduling this coming year, we have decided to do school, year round, with lots of breaks. My husband has business and pleasure trips about once per month and likes us to go with him if possible. Since we have a business ran mostly by family members (Paw Paw and uncles etc.) it is a great experience for my son and we consider it to be just as educational as when we we are at home. We also look for educational activities in the area we are traveling to or even just learning about that particular city or area. So, I am hoping it will not be too difficult to plan and yet be flexible around these trips. EEEK! Any helpful ideas?!

    I want to do a much lighter schedule in the warmer months. We have a 4 acre mini farm and LOTS of outdoor work including a garden, so we really need lots of work outside time. I want to continue mostly focusing on phonics and lots of reading consistently now thru next fall, also enjoying nature and following up on as many (why) questions that my son asked as we can. That is how we learn most things at this point.

    I want to have my plan for next year done by the end of May and my supplies all planned out purchased etc. hopefully……

  29. Debbie April 14, 2008 at 9:44 am #

    We homeschool the traditional 9 months but not during the traditional times. This week, April 14-18th, is our last week of school for 2007-2008. We started school July 23, having already counted 5 days of “school” activity field trips during the summer. My kids also read during the summer. We school normally through the year from then on taking off the day before and after Thanksgiving. At Christmas we usually take off the week before Christmas, the week of Christmas and the week after Christmas (depending on what day Christmas is). This past year we took off from the 19 of Dec. to the 6th of Jan.

    We school all the way through the rest of Jan. all of Feb. all of March and some of April (depending on if we have had any major periods of being sick). We usually through in lots of hikes and a few field trips in the Spring to break up the monotony but do not take Spring Break!! We add it to our Summer Break.

    We usually do no “school” from May to the end of July but this year my boys actually have “school” type projects planned for this time. Lapbooks they want to do on their own, and my one ds wants to do Math through the summer to get ahead… we will see if he completes that project… I will do all I can to encourage him. We like having the spring off since the late summer is so hot here and the kids do not go out and since the kids just want to sit in the air conditioning… we start school!!!

  30. merri-ann April 16, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    I have a big family and find that with life happening I need plenty of extra days built in. I also want to be outside as much as possible when the weather is nice. We start our new school year in July (the hottest part of the year) and then resume a more relaxed schedule during fall and spring and then pick up our fuller schedule during winter. So, I like dividing our year into 4 3mo. segments. I try to develope broad goals for the year and then plan the details a quarter at a time. I enjoy the structure with the flexability. We to count 4H and many times our gardening, canning etc. We always have more than 180 days.


  31. Katie August 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    WOW! GREAT comments! What a wealth of information. Thank you all!

    What I WANT to do, I probably won’t do, after reading all of your comments. But I wanted to start Second week of September, and go until the kids knew all they needed to know to officially be out of that grade. I was hoping to finish early, and get a nice long break and time to plan for next year. But it seems like that might not be good for the kids. So I might throw some breaks in there to help the kids, and maybe me. I am JUST starting out, and I think I am a bit behind. I should have started planning two months ago, huh?

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