So you've heard that some crazy folks homeschool year round and you are curious as to why...or maybe you are considering jumping on board yourself? Then you are in the right place. Year round homeschooling made sense for our family from day one. We dove head first into it and haven't looked back.
Why do we have summer breaks on the school calendar?
Did you know that the current school calendar is based on sweltering conditions in non air conditioned schools? In cities, many families left for the countryside or seaside whenever they could in the summer, hence schools often closed. Furthermore, teachers needed training and often this was done in the summer "break". It had nothing to do with learning needs of students, and actually, as a former public school teacher, I can attest that we spend a solid month in the Fall reteaching concepts taught the year before due to students not retaining the information over the break. How sad.
So how does it work, practically speaking?
In truth, any way you like! For us, it looks a little like this: we take a lot of breaks and enjoy life together in a natural rhthym versus the one dictated by the modern US school calendar. I am not a big planner. I actually don't map out every break, nor do I "sabbath school" where we do 6 weeks on and a week off. I know there are enough days in our year to count as "school". So we have a curriculum and we complete it...in 365 days. Low pressure is the name of my game!
In our home, we work around holidays and birthdays. We tend to take a small vacation at each child's birthday, we take 4-6 weeks off from Thanksgiving through the new year, and then again we often take a week or two off around Passover and Resurrection Day. Beyond that, we enjoy finding specials and good deals so we can travel as a family. Often those cannot be pre-planned. So when they pop up, we ditch the books and enjoy the low cost fun! It is so freeing to adventure when we want and we can bring our chapter books, or not.
In my opinion, this is how it is meant to be. One of the main perks of home educating our sons is that we have time to do life together. We don't have to count absences from school the way schools do.
Field trips count as "school".
You probably knew that, but if you didn't, now you do! When we travel, we often count it towards the 180 mandated school days in our state. Don't feel guilty, the school counts every outing, field day, etc. as "school" too.
When we visit an aquarium, head to the beach, or even go camping, I consider this learning and school for my sons. They are learning. It is science and often math, social skills, and reading. Lessons in our home are holistic, we don't believe the table time learning trumps the river side learning. My boys can describe the life cycle of at least 10 insects, a toad, a salamander, a frog, and a bird by the time they are five years old - simply because we keep them outdoors and go camping so much. They are never registered for school until age 6, but they have a rich pre-k and kindergarten program without any need to count days or register!
123s and ABCs during summer.
I know you really want to know if we use a curriculum in the summer months, and the answer is yes, we do. I usually adapt something to fit our summer learning. The past two summers, we have enjoyed materials from The Peaceful Press. They offer amazing full year resources that I have been able to modify for a summer term. What I love most about this is that we are reading chapter books and picture books while doing handcrafts, nature, study, and baking. In general, we spend about an hour daily on "lessons" together as a family in the summer months.
It is my opinion that the summers can be a time for children to work on skills they may need to brush up like addition or multiplication facts and reading skills.
This year, I am making a daily list for each of my school aged boys for summer learning. It will be simple and give them ample time to enjoy playing and doing things they are interested in. I plan to send that out as a freebie you can adapt for your crew soon, so be sure you are on our email list!
Year round schooling is such a fun way to keep your family doing family things without the pressure to "keep up" or "do school" based on the government calendar.