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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

The Flexibility of Homeschooling Throughout the Seasons


The individuality of every family can benefit from schedule flexibility, and as Seton families, we can choose a schedule that is best for us.

Have you ever been frustrated with your child not finishing his math lesson by the end of the day? Are you stressed out when their drama rehearsal or sporting event takes precedence over their school?

Maybe these are opportunities to rethink your homeschooling schedule! After all, the uniqueness of each family goes hand in hand with homeschooling. And the flexibility of homeschooling provides us with unique scheduling solutions to fit our distinctive family’s needs.

The Conventional Schedule

Many Seton families follow the conventional schedule that the Seton lesson plans lay out: four-quarters of nine weeks of school followed by a summer vacation. This schedule works well for many households. However, there are plenty of alternatives providing flexible schedules for families who would benefit from them.

Quarterly Breaks

One alternative is the ‘nine weeks on, three weeks off’ schedule. As it sounds, after each quarter, which takes nine weeks, the family takes a three-week break.

In this scenario, there is no summer break but four three-week breaks throughout the year. Timing these quarters around Christmas or Easter breaks, for instance, provides extra time for our holidays, family, and traditions. However, for some families who are used to a long summer break, this may be a more challenging approach.

Block Scheduling

Another timetable that works for some Seton families is a method known as ‘block scheduling.’ My son, John, used this in his senior year and found it worked well for him. This method consists of learning one course at a time. If a child has six subjects for the year and takes five weeks to complete each, he will get through all six subjects in thirty weeks, about eight months.

Block scheduling provides focus and continuity and can be an efficient use of time. This schedule allows a few weeks off throughout the year for holidays and a summer break. My daughter, Emma, has modified the approach to sometimes teach her elementary-grade children several days’ worth of two or three subjects in one day.

Flexible of Flexibles

And finally, my favorite of all is the most flexible of flexibles. I’m talking about gearing the schedule for whatever the family needs at that time of their life.

For our family, when the kids were all young, my husband often had weeks of accumulated vacation time he needed to use before the end of the year. So, while Dad was home on his lovely extended Christmas holiday, the kids enjoyed a long holiday of their own and more Daddy time!

Family First

Now that many of our children are married with children of their own, we usually get together during the Thanksgiving holiday. Most of the family stays at our house, and we are ablaze with the excitement of siblings and little cousins getting together once again. Does this sound like the place for quality homeschooling? I think not! Generally, the kids break from school for two weeks at this time to enjoy the family reunion.

This flexible timing can also be used in times of illness or when there is an out-of-state family member who needs assistance. When my mother was near the end of her life, we took a month off to be with her. There are precious moments during this time I shall always treasure. In years such as these, we would inevitably homeschool into the summer, usually until the end of July.

I would like to emphasize that with so many children on the spectrum today, from ADHD to autism, as well as children with other special needs, a flexible schedule may be ideal for them as well. To quote John Paul II, “The human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name.” Our children with special needs are especially unique, and we must strive to find the homeschooling schedule that works best for them.

Fit the Program to the Child

The individuality of every family demands flexibility in the schedules that each would choose from. For some, a nine-month schedule and a long summer break work best. For others, breaks throughout the seasons are preferred.

There is no one way to do this, and as Seton families, we are privileged with a choice for our families to homeschool on a schedule that works best for us.

About Betsy Shanley

<br />Betsy Shanley
Betsy Shanley is the homeschooling mother of nine children, two still at home and grandmother of twelve. She and her husband, Jim live in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, and they have been using the Seton curriculum for over twenty-five years. Betsy enjoys learning about healing with nutrition. She is the author of A Gut Feeling: A Mom’s Discoveries in Search of a Cure for Autism.

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