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We found that it works best for us to school year round, no specific terms or semesters, with breaks when needed -- light work in July because of tennis, a full week at Thanksgiving, three weeks at Christmas/New Year's, two weeks at Easter, and about five weeks between Memorial Day and July 1. I roughly aim to have half of our work done by Christmas.

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Since I work at a university with a semester system, we use a semester schedule for school, starting one week before my semester at work and finishing one week after my finals week. We take a week off for Thanksgiving, take a 2-3 week Christmas break.

I am only employed during the academic year, so we usually travel over the summer, visit museums, live performances, do outdoor activities. We continue with math and reading, but otherwise do not seat work during the summer.

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Dd's extracurriculars operate on the traditional school year schedule and often involve end of semester performances, competitions and so forth.  Summers are often the time when the best intensives are available to her.  Thus, breaks in the sense of being free of obligations, are very hard to come by for us.  For example, she often performs on Christmas Eve, MLK day, Memorial Day Weekend... 


Next year, I am trying to work out a combination of 5-6 week terms which would allow us to take academic breaks ranging from 5 day weekends to a two full weeks at Christmas/New Years span.  The challenge is making it work to fit in testing dates for AP's, SAT's, ACT.... 


I found if the break in academics is too long, it takes us a while to ramp back up and get re-oriented.  Thus, breaks tend to be more like disruptions than breaks.  On the other hand, no break of any kind for more than about a month and a half leaves like trolls.


The hardest challenge is getting others (family/traditional schedule friends) to understand homeschoolling does not equal always available when they may be. 

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I used to school year round, taking breaks when I felt we needed it.

When the kids were young it worked. However, as the workload got

bigger, we would get too close to burnout before taking a break.


This year I tried out a system of four weeks on, one week off.

I created the calendar at the beginning of the school year.

We have two weeks off for Christmas and New Years, but otherwise

our breaks are always a whole week off at a time.

Some blocks are three weeks or five weeks to get off weeks

on specific weeks, like Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and Holy Week.


The off week is available for any catch-up work.

We also continue math and spelling during the off week.

I mostly use the off week to plan the next block of school.

I can re-evaluate what works and what needs tweaking,

without the pressure of also having to get lessons done.

Then I print out a daily schedule for each kid for the

upcoming block of school.


Overall, this system has worked very well for us,

and I plan to use it again next year.


We have so many extras going on this summer that

we will have to take it off.

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In the real world, the year begins January 1 and ends December 31. I didn't see any reason to do our "school year" any differently. :-)


We started around the middle of January; took off a couple of weeks in the spring around Easter; took off a couple of weeks in late August/early September, and put everything away from Thanksgiving to the middle of January. I felt free to take off random other times for midweek trips to Disneyland in March, or mental health days (aka jammy days), or visits with grandparents. For the sake of Sunday school teachers and grandparents, we "promoted" in September: "I dub thee THIRD GRADE. Go forth and prosper!" :D


Eventually, older dd began taking classes at the community college, and so we became more chained to fall semesters and spring semesters with concrete start and stop times. ::heavy sigh:: But I still liked to think of them that way--fall semester and spring semester--instead of September (or August) being the beginning of the year.

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We have 6 'terms' of 6 weeks each, plus if we are doing well with our times I add in a 'special unit', which is a unit study and structured, but 'different' learning stuff. These units have less to do with work times and holidays, and more to do with giving me a structure to schedule to (we block schedule, so I might do geography in units 1 and 4, so the units give my blocks some structure)


As a guide we would take a week off between each term, but it depends on where we are in the year and the schedule. We take time off over easter, we take 6 weeks off in dec/jan, and beyond that we take breaks as needed for life (this year we have had an illness break and we will be having a new baby break, so we aren't taking any extra 'break' times until at least July. At that point I'll reassess how many school weeks we have left before christmas vs how many actual weeks, since we have a jan-dec school year, not an aug-june one.) The vacations are very flexible, but I am the sort of person who can get a sense of when we need to push on, and get a sense of when it's time to stop BEFORE burnout hits, so it's a little easier for me to go with the flow than some people who need more direction.

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I'm tempted to put in place the 6 week on 1 week off schedule starting this fall, as I think *I* need a no-school week where I can get all my photocopies made, all my copywork laid out, plan a book study if desired, etc.  It's always 30 seconds before the math lesson that I realize "OH!  I need a photocopy!" 


This year with such little kids, we have just been averaging about 4 days of school a week, with semi-breaks around holidays and real breaks when we travel. 

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