During the month of May, I encounter the same question over and over…..”Are your kids ready for summer break?” My response? We school year round.
According to my nephew, who is in public school, schooling year round is a great injustice….one that no child should have to bear. My sister informed me that he wants to have a talk with “Aunt Jenny” about all of the reasons why my boys should NOT have to do school in the summer!
While my boys might tell you that they hate it, at the end of the day, they understand that they benefit from schooling over the summer.
Why We School Year Round
- Life is Year Round. Kids get sick. Holidays happen. The house gets trashed. Mom gets tired. Hubby needs my help. All year. Consistently. When I schooled using a nine-month schedule I would stress out over “life.” I felt like we couldn’t take a day off to go to the dentist. If my husband asked me to run an errand for him, I was frantically trying to figure out how to “stick with my schedule” and assist him at the same time. Illness was a major inconvenience. My little one needs snuggles? No time. I felt like a drill sergeant most of the time. When we homeschool year round, we take a day off (or two or three) whenever we need it. Unlike before, we have plenty of available “schooling hours” and I know that we will reach our goals. The list might get checked off today or it might get checked off tomorrow, but it will get done.
- Great Weather: When the weather is beautiful, we want to be outside! In May, we might take an entire day to go to the zoo or read a book under our favorite tree in the park. It’s gorgeous! Who wants to be cooped up inside? Not me. July is another story, though! Humidity. Heat. Blazing Sun. If you aren’t wet, then it is miserable. We love swimming, but you can’t swim for twelve hours a day. Why not do a couple hours of school before going to the pool?
- Shorter School Days: Because we school over the summer, our school days are shorter all year. A few days ago, my husband and boys drove by a school bus dropping kids off at their home. My sons had been done with school for about four hours. As they passed the bus, my kids yelled “SUCKERS” out the window. Okay, probably not appropriate….but, they understand that their school days are shorter because of our summer routine.
- Happy, Not-so-stressed Mom: As I said earlier, I tend to become a drill sergeant on a traditional schedule. I feel pressured to cram it all in over nine months. Year round schooling helps me lighten up! With a flexible twelve month schedule, I don’t have to fight to get it all done.
- More field trips and outings: Since our schooling is more flexible, I am released to do more field trips, nature walks, park playdates, and socializing without feeling like we are “skipping school.” If my kids complain about their “lot in life,” I drive them by the local public school and show them that while they are on their way to the park, their friends are sitting at a school desk.
- No Need for Review: Kids forget things over a long summer break. Teachers spend the first couple months re-teaching previous concepts. Kids don’t experience that gap when the learning never stops.
- More Chances for Logical Consequences: Over the summer, we are constantly going/doing/moving………swimming, playdates with friends, camps, VBS, etc. Our rule is that they must get their schoolwork done before they can do those things. If it isn’t done, they can’t go or they will be late. Because of their excitement for the “fun thing,” they focus on their work and get it done more quickly! It is not uncommon for them to stumble out of bed at dawn and go directly to their schoolwork! When this happens, we can swim even earlier!
- Holidays and Special Events: We switch to a lighter load when we are busy with holidays, birthdays, and vacations. During these times, we will go to the basics: reading and math. Sometimes, we will take a break completely.
- More Time to Explore: Sometimes my kids get incredibly interested in a topic. I am able to veer from our plan and dive into their areas of interest.
- Catch Up: In the summer months, I am able to catch up in areas that we have fallen behind. Also, we can devote more time to the areas in which I see my boys struggling.
- Enrichment: Usually, I don’t have time for enrichment activities during the regular school year. But, we make up for that over the summer.
- Light Fridays: Nearly every Friday is a light school day. The kids do math and reading and we spend the rest of the day doing chores, errands, field trips, or outings.
- Struggling Learner: I have one son that struggles with school. Learning does not come as easily to him. If we took the summer off, he would have a very difficult time. The daily learning routine keeps his learning stable, consistent, and forward-moving.
- Staggering new subjects: As we complete a level or book, we move on to the next one immediately. Rarely, will that happen in more than one subject at the same time. So, we tackle new subjects and new books one at a time instead of starting the new school year with five or more new pieces of curriculum.
- Character Education and Life Skills: Some days we need to focus on learning to speak kindly to our siblings, how to fold laundry (without shoving it under our beds), or how to persevere through hard tasks. I have time to focus on every aspect of my boys’ learning- not just their academics.
- Less fighting: For some reason, the more unstructured time I give my kids, the more they will fight. I have grand dreams of a peaceful, lazy summer with smiles, Popsicles, and time to relax. As I am breaking up another argument over “he stole my water gun” I wonder where that picture has gone. My boys need structure. Like it or not, they can’t handle three months of free time.
Tips for Schooling Over the Summer
- Time Off in June: When all the other kids begin their summer break, I let my kids have a whole week off, also. By the time the newness has worn off, we start school again.
- Lighter Schedule: While we school all summer, our workload is much lighter. Rarely, do we school past noon. When we are done before lunch, they have plenty of time left to play with neighbors, jump in the sprinkler, and enjoy the lazy days of summer.
- Choose Subjects Wisely: Don’t give them busywork. Continue with what you are already doing. If they finish a math book then start the next one. Review your previous history and science topics. Add in a few things that you didn’t cover adequately over the school year. Are there are a few enrichment projects that you wanted to do, but didn’t have the time to tackle? School with purpose, not busywork.
- Take Days Off: During VBS or camp, it might be easier to skip the entire week of school. No big deal! Pick up where you left off when life is back to normal.
- Make a Flexible Plan: Every summer I make a plan of all the things we will accomplish before September. Nearly every year, we don’t get to everything. It’s okay. Our plan is flexible.
Much to my nephew’s dismay, year round schooling is here to stay!
Anyone else school year round? Tell me about it!