Trimesters

Do you think of the school year in trimesters? I’m starting to. It’s new for us, because for about 8 years, we homeschooled year-round with breaks scattered all throughout the year. But starting 2 years ago I realized that I (and possibly the kids) needed a longer, traditional summer break.

It’s been an odd transition, with wrapping my mind around the idea that we’re (mostly) supposed to start and finish a book in one year. We used to just start books whenever the last one was done, and were at about a dozen different places in the different subjects. Sandra in particular feels stress about being on target; she does not like the choice between having to work on something on the summer or leave it undone. If she gets stuck or sick she really feels a pressure to work despite her situation. I don’t like the emotional turmoil around that so much, but I do admire her work ethic.

We’ve just had our Spring Break and I was looking over what we’ve done and what’s left. We’ve got about 60 school days til the end of June, which makes this one third of the school year. A trimester. I work best with units and projects rather than day-in-day-out monotonous repetition, so this discovery is exciting me. Next year I could think in terms of three units for our subjects.

We are starting 2 new programs, though it’s unplanned that this coincided with this period. Matthias is going to try the Key To… math series. I’m hoping that a mastery approach will help him, because the spiral approach of most math programs really isn’t working. Sandra is working on Apples: Daily Spelling Drills. Spelling is a real challenge for her. Years of copywork and dictation have been the best thing for her, but it’s time for something that presents spelling rules in a way that makes sense for her. Finally, I think we may have found the right program.

It’s early days yet – it’s always easy to be excited by a new program in the first lessons. I’ll report back about whether these are still working for us.

Do you homeschool in trimesters? What does that mean for you?

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2 thoughts on “Trimesters

  1. momco3 says:

    Though I think of school in semesters, it seems to work out in trimesters. The first Sept- December, the second Jan-March (when I usually need some positive feddback in the form of finishing a book or artist, etc.), and the last slightly shorter, until June. It helps us to have a smalled chunk of work to accomplish in that last block.

  2. Jennifer says:

    We follow Ambleside Online which has 36 weeks scheduled, broken down into three 12-week terms. Our terms typically run Sept.-Nov, (take most of December off), Jan-March, (take most of April off) and May-July (take most of August off). This works fairly well except during the summer when all their public schooled friends are off and wanting to play while we’re still doing lessons. I try to be more flexible in the summer and am contemplating a change this year. I’m not sure what form it will take, blocks of time spent on one subject perhaps?

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