Monday, March 30, 2009

Stretching Cores--How can I do this?

Many people have asked me over the years, how to stretch a Core Curriculum out so it takes a year and a half. I have thought about this and have actually implemented the following plan and it works well. I hope it can help you too.

A school year is typically 180 days, or 36 five day weeks. However, we all know, there is no way we actually do every lesson, every day, for 180 days. I mean, no one does. That is why in my whole school career I never came close to finishing a math book. You have to figure in sick days, holiday events, field trips and so forth. So, for argument's sake, let's say we plan for 30 full weeks of school. The other weeks can be for whatever-such as I mentioned above—and/or maybe a two week Christmas school and a three week state history--something along that line. I will elaborate on these ideas at the bottom of this post. So, let's look at the 30 weeks this year and 15 weeks next year. A total of 45 weeks of school over three semesters.

Get a FIVE day core. Do FOUR days of it every week.

That's my advice.

Do days 1-4 the first week, then days 5-8 the next week, and 9-12 the next week and so on. You can either stretch out the daily work so it is an even amount each day, or do all the work in four days and use the fifth day to do science experiments, map work, time-line work and maybe give the house a nice cleaning before the weekend. Or, maybe you can have a continuing book series that isn't scheduled in Sonlight-like my personal favorite the "Little House" books-- and you read a few chapters of those on your "off" day.

Doing a core this way, gives you 45 weeks of curriculum and you haven't had to tweak or worry about pacing--just do four days every week and you will have it paced out for you.

[What this translates to, is use 12 "tabs" worth of Sonlight Curriculum every semester and you will come out just right!]



I started in 1990 the week after Thanksgiving! This was not a good time, but we were desperate. [To see why, go here]. At any rate Christmas and all its activities was looming.
I was so stressed out--I mean really! Ugh! School, decorating, shopping, cards, school, shipping presents--oh, my--I mean I was totally stressed out.

So, the next year I got smart. I planned for Christmas. We did no formal school for the two weeks before our Christmas break [for late middle/high school kids I did have them keep up with their math]. I had the kids help with cleaning, baking and addressing the Christmas cards. I had them help with wrapping presents, deliver goodies to neighbors and everything else there was to do. It was part of the school day.

In addition, I read great Christmas Classics--I read the Best Christmas Pageant Ever for 20 straight years. I read Dickens’s Christmas Carol and then we watched the Mickey's Christmas Carol Cartoon. Christmas was fun and not stressful. The difference--I planned for Christmas, made it part of school and included the children as much as possible. The work got done and we were not stressed out at all.

So, my advice: Plan for the times you will be stressed and incorporate your children as much as possible.


Most states require you to teach state history. We did it this way. We did about 2 -3 weeks or so worth of state history every year the kids were in elementary school--or at least 3-4 years.

In our case, each child got a notebook or scrapbook. They could decorate it the way they wanted. In preparation for state history studies, whenever we would go in or out of our state I would have the kids collect those shiny brochures that are in the welcome station. Also, I would have them each get a state highway map or two.

The map will have the state bird, state flower and lots of other information. Talk about this and have them cut these things out and put them in their scrapbook. Have them sort the brochures into historical things and into tourist traps. If you can, chose 1-2 historical places to visit during your state study. Take photos, talk to the interpreters or curators, learn as much as you can about these places and the people that were involved with these events and locations. Older children can do extra research and do reports, younger children can just make a scrapbook page. Keep it fun and interesting. Have your children cut up the colorful brochures and use those in their scrapbooks too.

Use the highway map to plot out how you will get to the historic site. Have your kids keep track of the miles and so forth, this will be good experience on how to read and follow a map.

Ask your librarian for good books about your state. These could be biographies or historical fiction. Do these as read-alouds during this period of study. We found some nice historical fiction about our state at the local Christian book store. Ask people in your area--perhaps the local mayor or the folks at your city hall, if they have suggestions of local historical places you can visit. My kids and I learned so much this way. It was exciting and gave us a little break from our regular routine.

Hopefully this will help you see how you can stretch your curriculum. If you have other ideas, let me know. I am always looking for ways to help and encourage homeschool parents.
[Photos of Shakertown, a historic place close to home]


  1. Thanks, Jill, this is just what I was looking for!!

  2. I just found your blog this morning. After hsing for a long time, your common sense is so refreshing! When we begin this journey, so many of us exhaust ourselves trying to figure things out. We jump around from curriculum to curriculum, we measure ourselves against others, and we aren't patient with our kids. Your blog is a breath of fresh air! Thank you for presenting a balance! You are encouraging, even to veteran mamas with a long way to go. Blessings!