As a veteran home school mom who began home schooling at the point of having two children, then adding several more babies, a couple major moves and all kinds of disruptions plus a thriving home based business, I have done our schooling just about every way possible. We have had a very traditional schedule as well as a more year-round schedule. Each option presents its own unique pros and cons for both the children and the primary educator, which is typically Mom.
By “year-round,” I, and any sane person, am not meaning a literal school day every day of the year or even every weekday during the year, but rather a schedule that reflects some school time and some off time (or breaks) each quarter. This is in comparison with the more traditional 9 months on/ 3 full months off that is typical of most public and even private schools.
Benefits of Homeschooling Year-Round
Academic skills stay sharp. Often, after an extended summer break, children lose so many skills that you have to spend a lot of time refreshing or relearning those skills. This is especially true for things like mathematics or foreign language vocabulary. Let’s face it — to keep those math formulas straight or Latin root words retained, you probably can’t benefit from a 3 month break.
No wasted time in relearning. By reducing the long summer break and working year-round, skills not only stay sharper, but a students’ progress is enhanced because wasted time in relearning lost skills is not required.
Advance more quickly. Rather than being dictated by a calendar schedule, children can simply keep moving forward.
You keep the rhythm. Life gets pretty hectic. Babies, illnesses, special trips, visiting grandparents, job and work duties, the family garden, or whatever else that crops up might be dividing your focus. By deciding to work on school all year, you buy days to play or prioritize other things without guilt. You can sort of keep a rhythm happening….yet you can still enjoy spontaneous opportunities that come along at the same time. *see the article Planning Your School Rather than Detailing Your Day. It really helps you have success rather than stress.
Boredom buster. We have all heard children lament after just the first couple weeks of summer, “I’m bored” or “there is nothing to do” or similar complaints. By having a more year-round approach to schooling, you enjoy the off times, but they are not so lumped together that we lose the appreciation for them.
The road less traveled. Nothing cooler than having your family vacation during less crowded seasons. No matter how you define a vacation, be it the theme park or a National Park, be it the beach or the family road trip or even a staycation in your own area…no one likes the push and shove of summer crowds. By schooling more year round, you can plan your family leisure to be during the less congested times which leaves more time for fun and less time working around the crowds.
Challenges of Year-Round Homeschooling
Give me a break! Sometimes enough is enough…even of a good thing. So, we need breaks. Both mentally and physically, we need to recharge and to even reassess and regroup. You don’t want such a year round approach that the child and the teacher never have a break. Burnout is no fun.
We’ve got all the time in the world. In contrast to the burnout challenge above lies the other end of the pendulum, when we can trick ourselves into believing that since we are schooling year round, today’s lack of effort is no big deal. That is true, but when we string too many of those lazy days or derailed days together because we believe we have all this time to “catch-up,” then suddenly we realize that too much time has passed without us really accomplishing much of anything.
“But everyone else has the summer off!” This pressure enlarges as your children get older and have more friends on traditional school schedules. Those kids come knocking at your door in the heat of summer wanting to play, but you want your kids to finish up their math for the day. It can be a challenge. Sometimes you make deals with your kids, such as shorter hours in the summer, starting earlier, or doing a couple subjects in the evening or even switching up how they do certain subjects. Maybe setting aside the books and doing more hands-on or more project based things can even involve the neighbor kids — and you might become the coolest mom in the neighborhood because you had that neat experiment in the kitchen or the most unusual board games anywhere. You can even make deals with the neighbor kids, such as no knocking before noon because we are having our family time.
Creative Scheduling for Home Schooling
Things we have done to incorporate the benefits of a year round schedule and minimize the downside have been to school 3 weeks on and 1 week off each month. When my husband worked an odd, rotating shift, we would adjust our schooling days and even hours to accommodate Daddy’s ever-changing schedule. Had my children been in public school at that time, they would have had almost no Daddy time.
We also had a year where we did a very regimented thing for 4 days, and then Fridays were devoted to more creative learning activities such as excellent games, quality videos such as those from WallBuilders or Answers in Genesis, gardening, cooking or other home arts emphasis, a reading party with some great read-aloud books, or in later years, independent reading time to just dive into a book. Fridays for us were also used for out of the home field trips or service projects.
The great thing about home schooling is that you can tailor it to what works for your family, whether that is traditional, year-round, or something else — and you can change it up whenever you need to. What will your schedule be like this year?