Veteran homeschoolers around the world share a well-kept secret that I’m going to let you in on—year-round homeschooling. I know this might sound challenging, but it can actually revitalize your homeschool.
First, let’s define year-round homeschooling. Basically, you do school from January through December, but instead of taking off during the summer months, you take regular, shorter breaks all throughout your school year. That’s where homeschooling and lifestyle blend together seamlessly for academic success.
Families choose to homeschool year-round for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the more common reasons and the ones that inspired me to give it a try. It just might be the blessing you’re seeking in your homeschool.
One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling year-round is the flexibility it gives you. Life happens. So, when you’re hit by emergencies or illnesses, the last thing you need to worry about is missing school days. You have ample time to make them up.
You also have the freedom to create a family-friendly schedule that best matches your lifestyle. Some homeschoolers do a four-day week and then have field-trip Fridays or opt for a long weekend instead. You can also take one week off every six weeks and take a longer three-week break for the holidays. It’s always reassuring to know there’s a break coming up soon, which helps lessen any frustrations or weariness that you and your children might be feeling. Or try mixing and matching your weeks on and off.
Another great perk is the ability to take vacations during the off-season. We always went to the beach for a week in late September, where we enjoyed the luxuries of no crowds, lower prices, and cooler temperatures.
The Benefits of Routine
Kids thrive on routine. Year-round homeschooling allows your family to follow the same routine all year long. When kids know what is expected of them, they’re more likely to have a positive, can-do attitude. They’re able to focus better on the task at hand whether that be schoolwork, completing a chore, or practicing a sport or musical instrument. They tend to manage their time much better.
With year-round homeschooling, there is no sleep-wake cycle transition period between the beginning of summer vacation and the first day of school, and then again between the last day of summer and back-to-school mode. Kids simply move easily from school day to school day no matter the season.
A regular routine is especially comforting for kids with special needs. And, if your kids were in a traditional school before and are now homeschoolers due to the upheaval of the pandemic, this is particularly helpful and stress-relieving.
Consistent instruction helps keep your kids on track. Long summer breaks disrupt the natural flow of learning and depending upon the child, some are able to start back up in the fall without much review, but many simply can’t. Studies show that students typically forget 25 percent to 30 percent of what they learned the previous year in the core subjects of math and language arts. And unfortunately, as your kids enter into the higher grade levels, learning loss percentages increase.
For year-round homeschoolers, September is just another month in the school year and not jam-packed with reviewing. You and your kids can simply focus on moving forward each day.
The Gift of Time
I bet you often find yourself wishing there was more time in the day. Well, year-round homeschooling is the gift of time. You have an entire year’s worth of days to complete a typical nine-month-long curriculum. This allows you to hit the pause button when your kids need extra help with a specific concept or subject or want to delve deeper into a topic of interest. Or revel in the gift of serendipity—go ahead and carpe diem that gorgeous fall day and take a day trip, visit a national park, go horseback riding, walk along a nature trail, or visit a zoo or a farm. You can do today’s work tomorrow.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t the typical summer school. Summer homeschooling is the new and improved version of summer learning. Summer homeschooling is a unique experience, as different as every homeschooling family is from one another.
As for my family, we chose to focus on the core subjects of math and language arts with an emphasis on daily reading and journaling. Throughout the week, we mixed in some kitchen science and fine arts and took field trips to fascinating historical landmarks, museums, or cultural festivals.
Like many year-round homeschoolers, we kept the same routine but tweaked the schedule a little to fit the lighter workload. The afternoons were then open for our kids to explore their interests, pursue a hobby, or work on a project.
And, even if your kids are busy with summer activities, day camp, and sports, these can count as school.
If you think about it, year-round homeschooling is like a dress rehearsal for real life. Real-life doesn’t take off for the summer and bosses won’t excuse you for a long summer break. Life is a perpetual balancing act of work and play, so what you’re really doing when you choose to homeschool in this way is setting your kids up for success in life.