Inside: Some things to consider regarding year-round homeschooling and if it’s right for your family
As this school year winds down to a close, you may be wondering what to do with your homeschooled kids over summer break. You may even find yourself considering the benefits of continuing their learning (at least in some capacity) instead of stopping their studies completely for a few months.
Year-round homeschooling is what our family has chosen, and it may be a good fit for you too.
What is year-Round Homeschooling?
When a family chooses to teach their children throughout the entire year, they’re year-round homeschoolers. Now, this does NOT mean that there are no shorter breaks or slower seasons of learning.
For our family, homeschooling year-round has looked like ebbs and flows of learning. (More on that in a minute.)
The traditional school system is often composed of rigorous learning followed by a large break of doing little to no learning. New concepts are taught and reviewed for 9-10 months of the year with short breaks dispersed throughout, then it all just stops for a few months.
And I get it: breaks are good and we need them! But for some families, including ours, the traditional structure doesn’t make sense.
What About Their Summer Break?
One big question on your mind before we begin may be about summer break. Most of us had summer breaks as kids, and we remember them fondly. We may want that same feeling for our kids. Or maybe we have lots of things we’d like to do over summer and worry that year-round homeschooling won’t allow for the type of memories we’re trying to make.
First, I just want to say if you gather all the information, and year-round homeschooling isn’t for your family that’s okay. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that it’s personalized and tailor-made to fit whatever family it’s serving.
BUT if you’re really interested in year-round homeschooling, let me ease your mind. It’s so incredibly flexible. Choosing to learn all throughout the year does NOT mean that everyone is inside all day. It does NOT mean that you can’t take a week or two off in the summer. It doesn’t even mean that your summer schedule has to look like your schedule throughout the rest of the year!
It just means you don’t take a long summer break void of learning. Beyond that, it’s whatever meets your family’s needs.
How to Weigh Your Decision
To continue or not to continue? When deciding how to proceed, you may want to weight these areas.
This could go either way. What’s your personal philosophy on learning and homeschooling? And how would homeschooling throughout the year fit that style?
For our family, learning is something that’s done anywhere, anytime. I don’t want my children to believe that it only happens at our dinner table with a course book and pencil. Admittedly, we do a good bit of writing, and we enjoy our books. But that’s not the only learning we do.
Summer education might take on a different form than the rest of your year, if that’s what you choose. Or it could be an extension of your usual homeschool year (i.e. spreading your year out over a longer period of time). Or you could decide that year-round homeschooling doesn’t fit with the way you see learning and homeschool.
Learning Retention & the Summer Slide
You may have heard of the dreaded “summer slide.” It’s the learning loss that happens when our children have a long break. If our kids don’t engage in some sort of learning throughout the summer months, there is no “if.” Learning loss will happen.
That means when we fire up the ole’ thinker again come August or September, we’ll have to reteach some of the material they may have forgotten. Of course, review is always needed until we solidify concepts. But the summer slide takes a larger toll than our usual need for repitition.
Even if you don’t choose to homeschool year-round, it’s important to periodically review or “quiz” them on things they’ve learned. It’s also said that reading helps lessen the slide.
Your Time and Sanity
Lastly, when considering year-round homeschooling, you need to consider your own time and sanity. Maybe you need the summer to recoup from an especially tough year. That’s okay, momma.
At the end of the day, it’s not beneficial to your children if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed. You know what you can handle and when you (and your kids) need a break.
4 Reasons to Homeschool All Year Long
Your decision may turn out differently than ours, but these are the main reasons we decided that year-round homeschooling was for us.
Encouraging Life-Long Learning
This ties back to our philosophy on learning. In my mind, when you constrict the majority of learning to a certain time of year and plan all the “fun stuff” when school is out of session, kids tend to dread learning. Learning all year in a variety of contexts means that learning is more likely to be seen as a valuable and typical part of life. (Not saying that my kids never whine when it’s time to start a lesson!)
It’s good for my kids to have some established expectation of how our days generally go.
Our schedule doesn’t always follow the same order. For example, we used to generally do lessons in the morning and played outside in the afternoon, but lately we play outside all morning and do lessons in the afternoon. But either way, my kids can expect that at some point in every weekday we will be engaged in learning together.
Flexibility & Customization
As is usual with homeschooling, the year-round schedule is very flexible and customizable. Take a vacation or go on a family trip whenever you want. Do you feel like the kids are getting burnt out? Take a break for the week or take it easy by just doing science lessons together daily or Bible or art or whatever you want.
Year-round homeschooling for us means going with the flow. In December, we all passed around sickness. Because of it, we took a week off and watched movies / lounged around. When we went to the beach in September, we took a week off and didn’t miss a beat when we got back.
Year-round schooling molds around your schedule.
Lifting Much of the Stress Burden
If you feel a general amount of stress surrounding lessons and needing to get them done, schooling year-round is a great cure. You can spread out your schedule and worry less about finishing things before testing and portfolio season.
In general, it allows you to slow down and enjoy this life you’ve chosen instead of feeling like it’s a sprint toward a finish line.
What other questions do you have about homeschooling throughout the year? Drop a comment below!
Until next time,