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.