Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Year Round Homeschooling

When my brother was in elementary school, our local ISD did a trial program with a year-round schedule for one year. The kids loved it but the program was a flop, mainly because of childcare issues; parents found it difficult to find childcare for a week once every 6 or so weeks. The idea, though, seemed brilliant to me and when my boys were old enough to start ‘pre-home-school’, we planned a similar schedule.

Now that we’re homeschooling in truth, it really never even occurred to me to continue with the traditional school schedule we had become accustomed to. Since we were no longer bound by the school’s way of doing things, and schooling all year-long seemed much more logical to me, we switched. We have school throughout the calendar year and take smaller, more frequent breaks between learning periods and it’s working very well for us.

Now, admittedly, I planned our schedule with absolutely no input from ‘experts’ and did zero research on the subject. It merely seemed logical to me based on my experience in public school – spending 3 months in the summer vegging out with no academic concerns and then spending weeks on reviews at the beginning of the school year catching up and re-learning what I’d lost. It seemed that not having that huge long break would eliminate that whole scenario.

Depending on the individual schedule, you might also have more academic days than a traditional school schedule. We don’t, because we only have school Monday through Thursday, which gives us lovely 3-day weekends to enjoy, which works better for us. As long as we have a comparable number of ‘in class’ days, I figure that’s plenty (though we do log school time in our ‘off’ weeks, we just don’t do formal, sit-down work).

Imagine my surprise when I found this article at Summer Matters that wants to Stop Year Round School. Some of the points that the Summer Matters site talks about are family time (though many families have two or are single-parent working and the summer doesn’t change that since the kids are still in the care of others during the day), childhood growth and development (which is currently ousted in favor of having children study more to boost standardized test scores) and the economy of seasonal communities (which really only matters if you’re among the top income brackets – we poor folks don’t really contribute much to the seasonal economy since we’re too busy worrying about budgeting this week’s grocery bill to plan a vacation to a touristy hot spot).

Having said that, there are some points that I agree with. For public schools. Homeschooling is quite different. One of the first points on their list of bad is that year round schedules offer too little, too late in the form of intercessions for students who are falling behind. If you’re talking about an over-burdened public school system where teachers are paid very little to do a monumental job, then yes. I agree. But for homeschooling students, intercessions aren’t needed simply because a parent/teacher is going over each concept and working with his or her student until he or she grasps the concept. There’s no push to keep ‘on schedule’ or worrying about keeping up with the faster learners. Their solution is to have the child attend Saturday classes.

I assert that if the school system can’t get the necessary lessons accomplished and fully educate my child in the 8+ hours per day that they have my child in their care, then an extra few hours on Saturday likewise isn’t going to help – not to mention the fact that by forcing my child into school on a Saturday, that will significantly interfere with our family togetherness time. How does that impact students and families long-term?

When you’re homeschooling year round, the learning never stops. Even if you start out planning to homeschool with more of a traditional schedule, you tend to find that homeschooling eventually starts to become ‘how you live‘ rather than ‘something you do‘. There is a learning opportunity in nearly everything that you do with your children. Most homeschooling parents are extremely conscious of the enormity of the responsibility that is on their shoulders and they take it quite seriously. They actively seek educational application in the mundane activities of everyday life.

The bottom line for this kind of debate is that comparing year round public (and other institutionalized) schooling with year round homeschooling is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re really two separate organisms with enough differing characteristics to make comparing them very difficult. I’m quite comfortable with our year round schedule and I know that this method works for other homeschooling families as well.

I’ve been looking for other year-round homeschoolers and have found a few. I’d love to have a group of homeschooling families who use a year round schedule to show the diversity and ‘how-to’ aspect of year round homeschooling. To that end, I’m creating the ‘Never Stop Learning’ blog ring for homeschooling bloggers who follow a year-round calendar. If you’d like to join in, please comment below and snag a button for your blog. You can link back to this post if you like.

Warmly,

~h

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11 responses

  1. I totally agree that homeschooling is a way of life, not just something you do. We stop most of our “school” stuff over the summer because everything becomes disrupted – all our friends have conflicting trips so we see our regular groups less and all the classes the kids take are dependent on the school calendar (even when the classes are intended specifically for homeschoolers). Also, I use the summer to get a break by sending the kids to various summer camps and as a chance to travel a little more and see friends and family. But I feel like we are still homeschoolers all summer, even if we’re not doing math work or so forth.

    Loving your blog, by the way.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:29 am

  2. That was one of the things we found as well; summertime, even when we had desk-work planned, didn’t go as smoothly as I’d thought it would. My niece was with us a lot this summer, which in and of itself was a disruption to our schedule, not to mention the activities available for summertime in the community.

    We just made adjustments – we had more of (how I think of, anyway, lol) an unschooling thing going on for the summer and it worked beautifully. It’s interesting to me to see the progression of changes that happen as you go along.

    And thank you 🙂
    ~h

    August 10, 2010 at 8:14 am

  3. Great post!
    We started out as year-round schoolers, but for the past two years have moved to a more traditional schedule. The reason is that in my area, there are not very many activities during the year for homeschoolers, but during the summer there is more going on (not for homeschoolers, per se, but they are there). But I have to say, having done it both ways, I can say that I like doing it both ways. I may be one of those that switches it up every few years.
    This summer and last summer we really needed to take off the “whole” summer – we had travel plans, my sister’s wedding, we took part in our state parks programs, the kids went/are going to camp… and this summer I had surgery so I needed time to recover. But during my recovery, I was thinking that I’d like to go back to year-round this year. We’ll be taking more trips and having house guests during the year (I found that when people come to visit, we don’t get to school!). Plus, after two summers off, I’m tired of trying to fit it all in during the school year. lol I used to do 3 weeks on, 1 week off. I don’t know if that would work at this point. I’m curious to read the schedules others post! Thanks for posting!

    August 10, 2010 at 8:15 am

  4. Yay for flexibility! That has been, by far, one of my favorite ‘advantages’ to homeschooling, period.

    We do 6 weeks on, 1 week off, and follow a calendar year (not ‘school year’) schedule. I think next year we may try 4 weeks on, 1 week off and see if that is better. I’m finding that 6 weeks is kinda a long time and our breaks seem to fall one week before or after most school breaks (which makes getting together with friends more difficult).
    ~h

    August 10, 2010 at 8:21 am

  5. Even when my daughter was in school, we homeschooled during the summer and on breaks. She would ask to do activities or to “do school,” and we have always been those people who make weekly trips to the library and check out bags filled with books on all kinds of subjects. It’s definitely always been part of how we live. So when we switched to officially homeschooling this year, it didn’t require much of a decision. Starting during the summer (although with a lighter workload) just made sense to us. And I love the idea of being able to take a mental health day here and there whenever we need one or surprising the girls with fun days.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:28 am

  6. Isn’t that the best? I love knowing that ‘it’s ok if we slack a little today’ because we have plenty of learning time worked in around other things. After spending time in my kids’ classrooms when they were in school, I’m confident that we’re logging more hours actually spent in educational endeavors than they were getting in class.
    Thanks for commenting 🙂
    ~h

    August 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

  7. I had orignally planned to do a traditional school schedule, with us doing a lighter verison of school just to keep things fresh. But as we move along this journey *we just hit the one year mark*, year-round just makes more sense.

    It will allow us to plan vacations during off-season times *taking advantage of lower prices*, and it spreads the learning out. Instead of trying to knock it all out you can move at your own pace, spending more time were you need, really get into a subject. Simply because you don’t have to worry about being done by the time summer hits.

    We’ll have a goal for when we plan to enter a new grade level, but school will be in session year round, with short *week or two* breaks as needed.

    August 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

  8. That was one of the benefits of homeschooling to me, being able to ‘dig in’ where my kids showed a desire to learn more, or spend longer on an area we find really interesting.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂
    ~h

    August 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

  9. Is

    Hi, we’re pretty much year round learners here. We homeschool eclectically – some weeks are quite schooly while other weeks are more unschooly – but we don’t have any holidays, because learning is too much fun.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

    • Hi SnowMummy! Welcome 🙂
      I love your unit study post – I’ll comment on it there…

      As we go along, I’m finding that our schedule varries quite a bit, too. Rather than fighting to maintain a super-consistent schedule, I’m finding myself more and more at ease with taking advantage of “schooly” weeks. So nice to meet other year-round homeschoolers!
      ~h

      November 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm

  10. You make some excellent points. It’s too bad that childcare is an issue for so many families, since the school kids generally liked the year-round schedule.

    I would LOVE to switch to a year-round format, but my kids went to public school until 3rd grade and I think they would balk at doing academics during the summer–especially when their school friends are on a three month vacation.

    However, we do lots of “sneaky” school during the summer, like nature study, science camp, drama camp, museum visits, reading together, and art projects. So, I guess we are year-rounders in a way, we just change the way we learn during the summer.

    Last year, by first week of August they were asking when school was going to start! So we started our official year earlier than we planned (and somehow, we are still behind…)

    February 12, 2011 at 10:07 am

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