Many homeschool families stop schooling during the summer months, following the traditional model of public school systems. Other families continue home education throughout the summer. Which way is right?
It is common for homeschooling parents to have feelings of inadequacy and guilt for all of the uncompleted lessons during the regular school year. Homeschooling allows much flexibility in the family’s schedule, so school is often halted for illness, extra-curricular activities, extended family visits and the like. Therefore, some parents feel it necessary to continue schooling throughout the summer.
Summer Homeschool – A Good Thing
Homeschooling doesn’t require the same amount of dedicated time per day as public school does. Since the student is free to work at their own pace, they are not slowed down by the “slower” students in the class. This means that there is plenty of time during a summer day to set aside a few hours of homeschool.
Since there is so much more sunlight during summer days, there is that much more time for homeschool lessons. It is easy to sleep in, play outside and engage in other activities before it gets too hot, and then schedule a ‘study time’ during the heat of the day. As the afternoon draws to a close and evening begins, the summer heat begins to wane, allowing for more outside summer activities.
Summer Homeschool is Not Received Well by Most Students
The students are likely to say,”But Mom, it’s summer!” Homeschoolers obviously have a different lifestyle than their public school friends, and this is nearly always managed in a positive way through association with many other homeschoolers. However, it is distracting for a child to be working on spelling words on a hot July afternoon, while the neighborhood children are playing in the neighbor’s sprinkler system.
A school break for the summer is certainly appropriate, especially if the student has made acceptable progress during the school year. Some time off also prevents homeschool burnout, both for the students and the parents. A compromise might be two weeks on and two weeks off throughout the summer, or switching to a unit-based study for the summer.
Summer Homeschool – Not!
Taking the summer off can be helpful to the homeschool teacher by preventing burnout. It can be a time to re-group, re-organize, and re-energize. Summer is a time for completing unfinished projects, planning next year’s course of study and setting goals for the coming year. Catch up on organizing photos, preserve the garden produce for the winter and clean out the closets. Perhaps the most important reason for homeschool parents to take the summer off is to simply rest.
The choice to do summer homeschool or not should not be made under pressure to impress the neighbors and grandparents, or to fulfill an un-realistic educational goal. Some families school all summer and love it. Other families truly need the break, and that can be a good thing, too.