Saturday, May 25, 2019

Why We Homeschool Year Round

I'm in my 6th year of homeschooling my four children. What once began as a "let's see how this goes" adventure has now progressed into a definite way of life that I cannot imagine diverting away from. The ups and downs of the first year were certainly the most stressful, and while there are still ups and downs, I wouldn't trade homeschooling my children for anything.

Today I'm going to be sharing about the driving factors and our "whys" for schooling year round.  Many homeschoolers still school on a traditional schedule, but year round schooling has been the school schedule that we love the most and have held onto the longest. If you've been looking for ways to set up your school schedule, I encourage you to consider this type of set-up.

*Note: When I say "year round" I don't mean that we sit down with our books every day. In fact, my homeschooling style is not one where we spend much time at the table "schooling" anyway. Rather, it means that we don't follow a traditional school schedule in regards to big summer breaks and holidays and such. We plan on schooling all through the year with the idea that if and when we want a day off, to take a family vacation, or to just have a fun day together at the beach, we can do so without getting behind on our school. Our kids still go to fun camps in the summer, and we still have days where we just throw our hands up and watch movies together all day.

When we started homeschooling, we adhered to a traditional school schedule. Summers off. Breaks when the schools had breaks. Spring and winter breaks, holidays, etc. were all observed. I stuck pretty carefully to this schedule. After all, I grew up in public school and even taught kindergarten for a couple years...this is just how you do it, right? I knew of no other way, and so I naturally just followed suit.

Over the years, we found that our lives were much more balanced when we schooled year round, taking breaks as we need them instead of when we were supposed to take them. Several factors played into this, and I honestly feel that I find more reasons in favor of it the longer we do it.

At first, when my kids were younger, it was a behavioral decision. On school days, with routine, the kids had better attitudes. On days where we just "did whatever" and didn't do any "school", they were crazy. Children thrive on routines and on knowing what to expect. When the routines got thrown out the window, it seemed to mess with their understanding and expectations of the day. This was most noticeable when they were younger. As older children now (5, 8, 9, 11), they have enough consistent non-school routine things to keep the balance of our day (i.e. morning responsibilities- self care like teeth, dressing themselves, etc, and family chores-unloading the dishwasher, making their own breakfasts, etc.). Nevertheless, we love the routine of "school" being as simple as an every day part of our lives. I hope to raise life-long learners, and believe that schooling year round helps them understand that learning is something we should pursue always and forever.

Weather began to play a roll in this decision, as well. August is extremely hot here, whereas September is beautiful. With littles who wanted to play at the park often, we found the slides and swings were too hot to even enjoy in August. We preferred to play outside in September over August. Lake Tahoe is generally still really nice in September, and the bonus is that school-kids are back in school and we have the beach and parks to ourselves! Schooling year round allowed us to take breaks in September to go play without feeling "behind" on our schooling. We also will take our Disneyland family vacations on non-school breaks to ensure that it's not too crowded. And no, we never bring our school work along with us.

Retention quickly became a driving force to school year round. I found that, in general, many curriculums provide a couple weeks of review material with each new year of curriculum. The fact that many take a couple months off from school means that generally speaking, a review is necessary before moving on. Maintaining our year round schedule not only meant the kids remembered what they were learning, but that we could also skip those couple weeks of review material each year and just jump in with the new stuff. Imagine skipping 26 total weeks of review work over the course of a K-12 education. That's half a year spent just on reviewing stuff you already learned but forgot because of taking so much time off!

Flexibility is another. At this point, we average only 4 days of school/week. My kids usually do 5 days worth of work for all core subjects, but they complete it (on most weeks) in four days. If we have a crazy Monday, we can still complete all our stuff during the rest of the week. BUT, if we don't get to five days of work each week, it's still okay...year round schooling will keep us on track over the course of the year. The flexibility and relief of not having to stress over a missed school day is totally worth it. It keeps me sane, and helps keep the kids from stressing, too.

We love year round schooling. We are able to complete all of our necessary school work, have fun, enjoy the nice weather, and keep ourselves relatively stress free. If you are struggling to find a great schedule balance in your homeschool, I encourage you to take a look at schooling year round. It might be just what you're family needs!

Do you school year round? What is your favorite aspect of this type of school schedule? 

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