Many years ago, I wrote a post about how we homeschool year round. Especially as summer approaches, I find I am asked more and more about homeschooling through the summer and our methods in doing so. Today, I’d like to give you some of the most often asked questions about homeschooling year round and our answers to these questions.
Visit my Homeschooling Year Round Resource Page for helpful tips and resources to make a smooth transition to homeschooling year round!
What is the benefit of homeschooling year round?
As I mentioned in my original post, one of the biggest benefits are not needing to review materials from the previous year. Many textbooks and workbooks spend around 30 lessons reviewing the previous year’s work. Those lessons can be skimmed or skipped entirely if you homeschool year round.
Another benefit is that you can take breaks as needed. For us, this looks like a 4 day school week (we take Fridays off to clean the entire house) and vacation in the off-season. I don’t feel guilty for taking time off because we have that flexibility. Additionally, if there are family crises or character issues that need to take precedence over academic studies, you have the luxury of taking the time you need to address those without falling “behind” in studies. (I put “behind” in quotations because I don’t really believe in the notion of being behind. Grade levels are rather arbitrary and don’t offer a sufficient measure of success or mastery. 66% of government schooled 4th graders are not proficient readers and 19% of our nation’s high school graduates can’t read. Our measure of “behind” probably should not be the government schools. I don’t want to offer my kids information a mile wide and an inch deep. I’d rather they dug deep and learned to learn.)
Another benefit that goes hand in hand with what I said above is taking the pressure to “finish” off of the entire family. You can keep digging and not feel rushed. You can keep looking for mastery and not feel like you are on a deadline. I don’t worry that the math book isn’t finished by May 15th because we will keep going and they will keep getting the information they need to master the subject.
Do I homeschool differently in the summer?
For some families, the answer to this is yes, but for us it is not. We continue the status quo because that is what the children are used to. There is much to be said for routine. We have an established routine (see my At-A-Glance schedule for more on what our daily routine looks like). It works for us, and since our summer does not look much different from the rest of our year (i.e. no ballgames, time off for Daddy, other changes in activities), it makes sense for us to continue with the same routine.
I did say in my original post that we will often move school to the afternoon in the summers. That still holds true, but I don’t move ALL of school to the afternoons. I still like to give the kids an educational kickstart to the day, so we will start with devotions and then I will work with my younger crowd to get their schoolwork out of the way so they have the rest of the day to play and explore. It really doesn’t take that long to homeschool the younger years and if I don’t get their work done first thing, more than likely I won’t get back around to it.
Now, I will say here that using summer school time to dig into those subjects and projects you never seem to find the time for during the regular school year could be right up your alley. Take the summer to crash course geography. Use the time to do unit studies or science projects. Go through the entire Art Class DVDs (See the Light is having a fun summer giveaway right now too! See their blog for details!) and don’t forget to do some notebooking along the way! There is so much that can be done, but you will have to plan it otherwise, you will let the entire summer slip away without actually doing anything you wanted to do.
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What do breaks throughout the school year look like?
As I mentioned above, we take every Friday off to clean the house top to bottom for the weekend. After Friday chores, the kids have the rest of the day as their own.
We also take several mini-vacations throughout the year. However, these trips almost always include an education of some sorts – museums, new geography and geological structures, history and so much more!
There are also times when Ty and I need to be away for conferences. We do not always take the kids along on these trips. I do not require the grandparents who care for our children while we are away to enforce school. The olders know to do their work, but the youngers need me to work through their schoolwork in a way they are used to, so I let their work slide until I am home again. Typically, these conference are only a few days and often over weekends.
I also take off time when morning sickness is too much for me to be able to school around, and often as we near the end of pregnancy. Once baby is here, I usually take about 2 weeks off and jump back in.
We are also a very spontaneous family, so I want the flexibility to take an impromptu trip at a moment’s notice and not feel like I’ve messed up my school day.
These are the kinds of breaks we take, but yours might be a little more organized than this. I know families who take a week off every 4 weeks. I know families who take a month off every 3 months. The benefit here is the flexibility to structure your school year the way that works best for YOUR family.
How do my kids feel about it?
Honestly, I’ve never noticed them even noticing we school year round. They seemed pretty oblivious to the fact. We’ve been doing this for about 6 years. It’s second nature anymore. BUT, I thought I would ask them for the sake of an honest answer to this question.
My 16 year old son says it doesn’t bother him at all. He likes that we take off year round.
My 13 year old daughter said sometimes it bothers her, but not for long. When she really thinks about it, she doesn’t really care. It’s not like other kids are getting a bigger break than she is. Hers is just different.
My 9 year old daughter (who likes to be dramatic) put her hand to her forehead and fell back on the couch and said, “Yes, it bothers me!” Then, she jumped up and ran off to play. Not sure what to make of that.
My 8 year old son didn’t have anything to say and quickly followed his sister to go play.
The others are too little to have an opinion. They don’t even know what summer is besides hot.
So, there you have the main questions I am asked about homeschooling year round, but perhaps you have more questions. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments section, and I’ll answer there and maybe even compile a Q&A Part 2 if need be!