This post was first published in 2013, but it’s one that I find myself talking about often in conversations with other homeschoolers who are facing the stress of trying to finish this year’s work or burnt out at the end of a long year. We still “do school” all year long, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for our homeschool!
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Finding Our Homeschool Groove
We really found our homeschooling groove this year, and while I’ve felt like we had to keep going through the summer in year’s past, this year I actually feel more like we get to. Yep, for real!
The truth is that while most of our friends are winding down and counting the days they have left, we’re all feeling pretty excited and energized about school right now. I thought I’d share a little bit more about what that looks like and why it works for us.
First, to define what homeschooling year-round means for us, this year we’ll be doing everything from our 2013-2014 curriculum plans except Classical Conversations memory work, history and science. The big girls have actually started on this geography book (which is a fun way to teach the grammar and mechanics of maps, etc.), and we’ll be adding Latin next month as well. We’ll also be testing out a few ideas for history and science to get us ready for the fall. So almost a full schedule.
NOTE: For summer of 2015, we’re focused on Story of the World, math & English grammar memory work, Teaching Textbooks, spelling/vocabulary and an “elective” science course the girls are each doing.
In general, I look at our year as broken into trimesters (lopsided trimesters, but three parts nonetheless): early fall-Christmas, January-May and June-August. We often make changes to our curriculum around those trimester breaks — although I’ll share more about adjusting along the way later — and spreading our breaks out keeps me from getting burnt out during the year!
Here are the 5 main benefits of homeschooling through the summer for our family:
1. We can take off throughout the year.
This is probably the most obvious benefit and also the reason we started schooling through the summer in the first place! We usually take off completely for 3 weeks or so at Christmas plus another 3-4 weeks in late spring for vacation.
Although our new focus on independent learning has added a lot of consistency to our routine (because they’re not dependent on mom for most of their subjects), we also took off this past year when a family in our CC group was hit by tragedy, when I was laid out on the couch with the worst of my morning sickness and for almost a month around our recent trip to Florida. And while it happens less now, there are still days or weeks when I have a work deadline looming and we decide to take a break from school altogether.
Doing that is no longer stressful or guilt-inducing to me, though, because I know we’ll make up all of that time over the summer!
2. The girls don’t get as bored.
On days without any structure, our girls tend to be whiny and lazy. While I’m a fan of boredom during childhood, I think there is a delicate balance between healthy boredom that inspires creativity and debilitating boredom that results in whiny, lethargic children (at least there is for my children!). Doing school in the morning gives us some basic structure to our day so that the girls are more likely to use their free time for imaginative play.
3. There’s no pressure for big starts or endings.
With a traditional school-year calendar, the beginning of the school year is a big deal (everything is new!) and the end of the school year is a big deal (we need to finish strong!).
For us, however, the “first day of school” is an arbitrary date when we actually do very little school and instead make a special breakfast, take pictures and have ice cream sundaes for dinner, and there just isn’t a last day at all. That means I’m not cramming to get things done at the end or feeling pressured to have all of my curriculum choices together by the first day of the next year.
Which brings me to my next point:
4. It’s easy to adjust as we go.
Because there is no beginning or end to our year, we adjust parts of our curriculum and schedule as we need to rather than feeling like we just need to hold on until the next year. This year I really learned to embrace this aspect of schooling. It also gave us the freedom to experiment and try new things without worrying about whether it was the “right” time to adjust (a pretty big accomplishment for a type-A, perfectionist mama!).
5. There’s no need to review or adjust in the fall.
And finally, we don’t spend the first week (or three!) reviewing math and language arts material from the previous year or trying to readjust to the rhythm of our homeschool day, and we’re not hanging on by a thread during the last few weeks either. I think that gives us more flexibility to take time off throughout the year (WV doesn’t have a mandatory number of days that we need to “do school”) because we can cover more material in less time.
Homeschooling year-round is obviously not for everyone, and I can think of plenty of reasons why it might not work for other families — families that travel more during the summer or participate in extended camps or summer sports or whatever. But for us, it’s been the perfect compliment to our lifestyle and schedule!
What does your homeschooling calendar look like? Have you ever done school through the summer?