When I first started homeschooling, a few friends and I started a homeschool group that revolved around frequent field trips. As my children matured and school required more time, I found that our frequent excursions with our homeschool group were keeping us from completing our curriculum each week.
In an effort to be a more conscientious homeschool mom, I began opting out of these fun events in order to stay home and do school. In a few short months, my children and I fell into a rut and began to hate homeschooling. We missed the interaction with our homeschool group and getting out of the house for real-life learning.
How could we have the best of both worlds? For us the solution was a four-day homeschool week instead of the traditional five-day week. As we adjusted to our new schedule, we found that besides the extra day for field trips, a four-day school week had several benefits.
Benefit 1: Even More Flexibility
We all know that one of homeschooling’s greatest benefits is flexibility. But a four-day school week means you have even more margin to flex. When spur of the moment opportunities arise, we can say yes!
With a buffer day each week, we can easily shift our schedule to accommodate a day of unexpected disasters too. When kids get sick, the plumbing malfunctions, or mom has deadlines at work, that extra day is there to fill the gap.
Benefit 2: Interest-Led Learning
With lessons checked off, I feel okay with giving my children a free day each week to explore their own interests on that fifth day.
- Want to learn how to decorate cakes? Go for it!
- Want to shadow a career professional in the community? Sure!
- Want to hone your fort building skills in the backyard? Yep!
A four day school week leaves the fifth day up for grabs so kids can be free to pursue what fascinates them whether it’s something you studied during the week or something extra-curricular. Kids need hobbies too. And they need downtime to daydream and read for fun as well.
Benefit 3: Hands-On Projects
When we had a five day school week, I rarely had time to do all those fun hands-on projects the curriculum suggested.
- Baking Navajo bread? Are you crazy? I have to make lunch!
- Create an edible cell model? I still have to give two spelling tests!
Because I felt strapped for extra time, the fun, hands-on projects rarely happened. Thanks to a four-day school week, we have the fifth day to do messy experiments and crafts that always got pushed to the side before.
How to Plan a Four-Day Homeschool Week
If you use BookShark curriculum, you know that it’s already scheduled with a four-day week. So our programs make it easy to transition into this way of schooling. But what if you have homeschool materials that are laid out in a different schedule? How do you fit a five-day lesson plan into a four-day school week? There are a couple of ways.
Of course, you could totally rewrite the schedule yourself. Just ignore the publisher’s plan, and revise it to fit your own schedule. But there’s no need to be that extreme.
One obvious and low-stress method to make a five-day schedule a four-day one is to combine a couple of days’ work into one. If you see that one day’s lesson is especially light, then tack it onto another day’s work to make it all fit into a four-day week. If you are revising more than one subject in this manner, be sure not to let all the doubled up subjects fall on the same day. Spread it out so it seems balanced overall.
Another method is to use a block schedule. You could study all of your weekly music lessons on one day of the week, for example. Although this doesn’t work well for the basics like math and reading, it is perfect for art, music, health, science, computer science, and nature. The upside is that when your kids are getting really engrossed in a topic, you can simply keep on going. You have less of the transition time when you are locating books, getting supplies, settling on the couch or at the table, etc. You can dig deep into a single subject for an extended period of time instead of getting little nibbles all week long.
Whatever schedule you choose, be assured that the decision is up to you! You are captain of your homeschool ship, and you are free to think outside of the five-day week box and make a plan that works for your children and your lifestyle.