Why We Begin Our School Year in January

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

January can be a rough month. It’s cold and rainy or snowy; children are typically inside. The Christmas festivities have come and gone and there are resolutions to make. Family has usually come and gone and there’s cleaning to do.

In the middle of this, picking ourselves up by our snow-soggy bootstraps is just not fun. Who wants to homeschool when the end of the school year is so far away and the beginning was so long ago?

But this is exactly why we begin our year in January.

Along with the rest of the world, we make our resolutions. We just have the smell of new books to go along with them.

You see, continuing something is incredibly difficult this time of year, but starting something new is just plain fun.

We’re Motivated in January

There’s something about the prospect of no-holidays-no-disruptions in the air this time of year. I love it. It helps us settle into a good, strong routine.

As I’ve already mentioned, the weather creates a insular environment. We are looking for things to do at home.

This doesn’t mean we can’t play. Creating a new curriculum, picking new books to read, learning new things can include the element of play – inside – that often seems to be missing when back-to-school routines are mentioned in September.

We Have Children with Fall Birthdays

I have children with birthdays in the latter half of the year: August, September and December. It makes little sense to us to follow the established school year.

For the most part, I stay apace of their development and their interests anyway, but even with my eclectic style, I like to know which grade they are most likely to fall into – if only to know when to stop pushing. The problem with eclectic schooling is that it is easy to push the children with extra work just because they can do it.

It makes far more sense to me to begin in January and sometimes (often!) be done by Thanksgiving.

Record Keeping and Other Concerns

Sometimes, I think that homeschoolers forget how much freedom we have. With the lack of boundaries and laws and rules, we tend to cling to what we have learned or what we see around us.

A question I often get when I mention we begin in January is how do we keep records?

My answer is always the same way. 

I simply write what we intend to do in the year – any year – and file the necessary paperwork. Even though we file when the state requires us to do so (October, in our case) it makes no difference to our curriculum or our homeschool.

Have you found a way to beat the January doldrums? When do you begin your school year?

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at http://TheClassicalUnschooler.com - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

3 thoughts on “Why We Begin Our School Year in January”

  1. My youngest is in Kindergarten and turns 6 next month. I was kind of doing more of an unschooling approach the first half of the year,but now we are getting more into our curriculum. I feel like I want to start each kid in January, but how does that work out grade wise? Like when they are older and ready to graduate. It seems confusing to me. I know homeschooling doesn’t have to be like traditional schooling.

    1. Hi, Heather—

      The biggest realization you come to in homeschooling is that time spent in a classroom does not include actual learning. It’s not a one to one relationship at all. That last year can quite easily be a half year if you would like to graduate your high schooler in May. Or you can wait until next year. Most homeschoolers that follow a text and curriculum that I know are done with it way sooner than is required anyway.
      Good luck to you!

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