Q&A Friday: Do you homeschool year-round? Why or why not?

year-round schooling ~SimpleHomeschool.netJamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Since the majority of homeschooling parents weren’t actually homeschooled ourselves, we tend to have a conventional schooling outlook–often without realizing it. Our mind thinks of education in chunks–8am to 3 pm, six week sessions, summers off.

Yet as we progress on our homeschooling journey we slowly become more comfortable with our new freedom as a family. It feels empowering to realize we set the schedule. We start to question all those “norms” and educational stereotypes we grew up with.

I’m big on freedom at home (My latest ebook attests to that fact) because I’ve seen that the more freedom we have, the more we enjoy our lives. And the more we enjoy them, the more we’re able to focus on something beyond ourselves.

Our family decided to school year-round because:

  • I wanted our children to see learning as life–not something segregated to certain hours
  • it gives us the ability to take off and change up our routine anytime we need to throughout the year (without worrying about meeting minimum requirements of hours/days of school.)
  • it lends flexibility for traveling throughout the year–the ability to say yes to any opportunity that comes along
  • it lends a helpful structure to summer days that might otherwise veer toward chaos
  • it gives us plenty of free time all year-round

I don’t think year-round schooling is the only way to homeschool effectively. Each family should create their own schedule that meets the unique needs of their children. Which brings me to our question for today:

Do you homeschool year-round? Why or why not?

Further reading:

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Yep. Actually, we just started. We’re doing it partly because of the freedom-in-scheduling you mentioned, but also because my kids NEED a certain amount of structure in their days. A whole summer without the structure of school would make all our heads explode. And, like you said, I like the idea that they’ll grow up seeing learning as a year-round sort of pursuit.
    amanda’s latest post: in the garden

  2. We home school year round for the flexibility of it and need for some summer structure. However the main reason is that it is so hot here in the summer and my kids hate the heat. We try to spend more time outside in the spring and fall when the weather is nicer.

    • Rebecca C says:

      As a Floridian, I definitely empathize with this reason! Honestly, it would be nice if the public schools would do the same. Summer is simply too hot to actually go outside and play, so kids on vacation end up just sitting at home playing video games or watching TV.

  3. We school year round. The number of days are easy to get so that’s not why. We like the flexibility that schooling all year offers. We can take days off as we need, work as fast or slow as we need & have time for other educational activities besides academics.

  4. We do homeschool light through late spring and early summer and focus harder on our workbooks August through about April. We are going on vacation in a couple weeks and spending 2 weeks “studying the geography, history and wildlife” of West Virginia (shhh, don’t tell the kids they’re learning). They’ve already started their math and we’ll jump right in on other subjects a week or so after getting home.

  5. Michelle says:

    Yes, we homeschool all year as well. We do it for the reasons you’ve listed – flexibility, to instill that learning happens all the time not just certain periods of the day/week/year, structure and especially for the off season traveling ;)

  6. We used to home school typicaaly Aug-May, this year we changed things up. We started year round and the kids LOVE it! It gives them a chance to take days off through the year to do things they love. Skate-Bowl etc. It also has helped my “special” daughter to learn and retain more information.

  7. We do homeschool year-round, mainly because my son is 4 and things we learn can be lost quickly. No, that’s the secondary reason. The main reason is that we’re having so much fun!
    Courtney’s latest post: Potty Training – Milestone?

  8. We do not homeschool year round. We break from around Memorial Day to Labor Day. It works for us for a few reasons. We live in a neighborhood with 16 kids within a 6 house radius. We are the only family that does not attend public school. During summer, the kids are out all day long together. My kids look forward to the summer with their buddies and I love the freedom of completely unscheduled days and a break from routine. Also, knowing I have a few month break to get big projects done, spend many days relaxing and swimming and visiting friends we don’t see much over the school year, and just some nice down time keeps me going through the school year. Of course, we don’t let summer stop learning. My son will be starting therapy for dyslexia in a few weeks- summer will be a good time to get that routine going before football season and school starts, and my oldest daughter has been writing fan fiction all summer. We are relaxed homeschoolers during the year anyways yet we look forward to summer vacation to really spend unlimited time on our interests without any schedules or agendas :)

    • Mama to AWE says:

      Cheri, that sounds like something I could have written. The neighborhood playmates…rest from a more structured routine…accomplishing bigger projects. We don’t step away from learning, just curriculum. We do Summer Points and earn bigger event rewards for individual initiated learning of age appropriate skills we have selected (tying shoes, riding two wheel bike, completing morning tasks by a deadline). I am no longer the initiator for learning over the summer. We all get a break from the school year routine. Different types of learning evolve in cycles this way and we are refreshed and reenergized when a new cycle begins.

  9. Glad this is being discussed. This was my first year to homeschool – and when we wrapped up our curriculum – I felt lost…and anxious to begin the next level. So, we are doing a light review right now – and we will start back full load very soon. This way – as you mentioned – we can seize opportunities that come up through out the year. Also…it keeps me from losing my mind! I need structure! And I needed this encouragement today! Many thanks :)

    Blessings,
    Kate :)
    Kate’s latest post: A Trip and a Prayer

  10. Rebecca says:

    We homeschool year around. We do take a 6 week break in the late spring early summer (May and June) and 6 weeks off from Thanksgiving through the New Year. The rest of the year I plan for a week off about every 7 weeks and more frequently in the Spring (when I start to feel burn out). But anything goes, so if we have a vacation opportunity come up or everyone lacks the get up and go, we readjust the schedule

  11. Ali Federwitz says:

    We do school year-round as well. I don’t plan breaks, we just take them when we need them. Whenever we are ready to start a new year, I often start with one subject and slowly add one at a time every week or so until we are full speed ahead. That way, each subject tapers off toward the end. Sometimes our travel schedule is unknown so schooling year round allows us the flexibility to go where and when we need to. My kids complain on days when we don’t have school so the fewer non-school days we have, the better! I also don’t feel so badly if we need 2 days to do a project or activity instead of the only 1 that I scheduled. It allows us to do anything as quickly or slowly as we desire.

  12. This is our 3rd summer as homeschoolers and it’s the first we aren’t taking a complete break. The last 2 summers we’ve breaked July-September. My girls operate with a loose structure so much easier than my boy did at their ages, so I enjoy that we can have less structure. This year, we’re continuing all summer with daily math and God time [and memory work recitation EOW]. Why the change? My husband had a heart transplant and the subject most deeply effected was math. This summer with rectify that and with a light effort which is good since math is not a favorite subject around my house.
    Becca’s latest post: My Homeschool Mother’s Journal – June 24

  13. This is our first year of homeschooling year-round, though I knew something needed to change after our last summer off. It was hard for everyone to get back into a more structured routine. This year we were sort of forced to take about 2 months off with relocating across the country. That was in late Winter-early Spring, so now that we’re back into the routine, it’s been going really well, even though it’s “Summer” for everyone else. I really like the idea of HSing year round because of all the same reasons you listed above. I like that it helps our summer (mornings) along, and it definitely leaves us up to travel whenever we want throughout the year–which we really do take advantage of. I also think my son retains much more information when he is actively working on some things that are tough for him while not taking a super long break. Breaks here and there, but still with pushing through, I have seen him really working through and get better.
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Birthday Interview; 6

  14. While I still have a very young children (a preschooler and soon-to-be newborn), I’m already seeing how schooling year round will be beneficial in the future. With summer birthdays, I notice mental growth spurts occurring in mid-winter and summer. Fall and spring tend to be times of reinforcement rather than advancement. Year round schooling allows me to maximize my children’s natural learning trends–which is just one reason I love to homeschool!
    Kristin’s latest post: Weekend Links: Homeschool Edition

  15. We are year round schoolers also. We have been for a few years. It is easier to keep our routine and have breaks when we need them. I have also found that my kiddos remember more if we are on a steady schedule. The great thing is even when we are on breaks they are still learning things.

  16. No, for the simple reason that my teenage son is gone most of the summer. He is a CIT ( counselor-in-training) at an overnight Christian summer camp for 5 weeks, is a camper during high school week at that same camp for 1 week, is going to basketball camp for 1 week, and a family vacation for 1 week, and he’s going on a missions trip to Andros, Bahamas with his dad for 1 week. So we stopped at the end of May and will pick up again in mid August. I have to say, even when my children were all young (I’ve been homeschooling 19 years and 4 of my 5 children have graduated from our homeschool ), I found I NEEDED time off in the summer, and we enjoyed being lazy for a few weeks. Plus there was VBS, and trips to Grandma’s, and swimming at the lake, and camping trips, and hanging out with friends. I would still read aloud, and we’d still do a little math here and there, but that was it.

  17. What works best for us seems to be to “do school” mid August to the end of May/beginning of June or so. This is because of a few reasons: June and July are the most summery months to enjoy more things outdoors, June is a busy month for our family with other things happening so I want to dedicate more time to that, and July is usually time for again enjoying the outdoors and visiting/hosting/travelling to family (who all live far) and friends that live far away as well, and there are lots of things to do with gardens, produce freezing or canning, etc. during the summer time. All of these things however are worthwhile and can be very educational, because of course, like you said, learning happens all the time.

  18. I didn’t used to, but I do now. When I got remarried and gained a stepdaughter (who is in public school), we began taking summer breaks. It would be too awkward to continue school when she’s here all summer.

    Honestly, this last year was HARD. I really appreciate the break this summer! I’m trying to brainstorm how I can take this feeling into the next school year.
    Carrie’s latest post: 10 Things I’ve Learned In 10 Years of Homeschooling

  19. We are doing it this year for various reasons.
    1. My kids (and I) need structure.
    2. We use a lot of unit studies, and 6 week “blocks” are perfect.
    3. My daughter is having surgery in August, we have a big family vacation in August, and I have surgery in September. This way, we can fit everything in!
    4. I love taking several weeks off around Thanksgiving and Christmas to really enjoy the holidays.

  20. We school year round for mostly the same reasons you listed. We’re also self emplyed and to stick to some arbitrary schedule that doesn’t apply to us just doesn’t make sense. It IS hard to get out of that mindset though-at 46 I still feel like school should happen M-F.

  21. This is my first year homeschooling, and we’re taking off for the summer. I need the mental break, and my sons love to be at the pool as much as they can. I was homeschooled, and my mom took off for the summers with us, and I like that. Summer is a more relaxed season in multiple ways for so many people around us. I think a longer break than just a few weeks has been good for my sanity. We’re still doing short reading lessons most days and some math, but that’s it.

  22. We will be starting our first year Sabbath homeschooling. Kinda like year-round but with a little longer “summer” break. We are gearing up to start in just 16 dyas. Cant wait to see if this is a good fit for our family.

  23. We homeschool year round. That way we don’t have to worry if we get out of sync here and there. Also, I like for my son to spend the day outside playing if it is a nice day so we tend to homeschool on the days in the winter when it is too cold, in the summer when it is too hot and on rainy days. We don’t have traditional days off either, we homeschool on the weekends and in the evenings. Whenever it works for us.

  24. I really appreciate you sharing this. As of right now we are planning to school mostly year round, though this is only our second year of homeschooling with kids 4 and under. My kids love structure and school so it is better for all of our sanity to keep the schedule as much as possible. I am planning to take 4 weeks off in July-August to make a better plan for schooling 3 next year. During that time I have additional workbooks for my older two to keep everything fresh.

  25. This was my first “unoffcial” year since we’ve been learning forever and we are starting official 1st grade this next year. We were pushing hard to finish our curriculum that wasn’t a great fit so we both have a little burn out. We’ve been “off” and very relaxed for about a month now but I’m anxious to get started with new stuff except July has some things coming up and I still have a lot on my summer “bucket list” to get done. I’m hoping to relax my teaching style along with all different curriculum so I’m working in as much sneaky learning as I can this summer.

  26. Sarah R says:

    we have done different things different years. my husband is a middle school teacher at a public school so we basically keep to his schedule. however, we will still do some “work” during the summer so that we can take breaks whenever we like without too much of a problem.

  27. My eldest is ready for schooling and I have contemplated home schooling for some time now, so these replies have are fantastic to take into consideration. Through this I have jotted down what could be pros or cons for us and we will sit down together as a family this weekend to discuss. But amazing to get so many different ideas on one page

  28. When I started Homeschooling all those years ago, I never really thought about when I would take breaks, etc. I have always, with out even thinking about it, schooled year- round. We do take breaks, just not really planned. The only time of the year we actually have planned breaks is from Thanksgiving till New Years. I mean I still do Fun learning activity’s during that time, but nothing too demanding.
    ~Keri
    http://homeschoolmom82.blogspot.com/

  29. My husband is in grad school, so we try to do school when he is in school. Pretty hard to do school when he is home, even though he’s still working on papers and dissertation, etc.
    This summer we are doing a small amount of school, which makes it easy to fit in before or after fun summertime activities. I do like the flexibility it gives me the rest of the year – if we take off a day here or there, no worries!
    We are just doing 30 min of math, 30 min of reading a “learning book,” and then each kid reads their chapter books or picture books for a child-specific amount of time. We’re enjoying it and having plenty of time for other things.
    Karen’s latest post: Reason # 465 why it’s nice to have a big sister in the family

  30. My kids(11,8,7,5,and 3) and I kind of homeschool year round. Meaning that we use 36 week curriculum from August to May and unit studies in June and July. We started this back when my oldest was 8 because he did not do well with so much unstructured time.

  31. My kids(11,6and 4) and I homeschool year round. We take all of December and 1st week of January for Christmas, Holy Week and the month of July off. We start new “grades” in August but learning never stops.

  32. We are a military family stationed in Hawaii. We homeschool year round so we can break randomly when friends & family visit us. It works out great.

  33. We take a very interest-led, unschooling approach – so yeah, all year rounders here! :) Spring and summer are full of nature walks and nature study, summer reading programs, friends and get-togethers, camps, trips, vacation, family and personal projects, summer sports leagues – and of course, continuing to passionately pursue individual topics of interest.

    As the seasons shift, so does the nature of our interests, activities and projects. :)

  34. I’ve wanted to structure a year-round homeschool as well, but my husband is a teacher and he has summers off. I love having him home, but it REALLY changes the dynamic around the house and makes it hard to focus on schoolwork. I’m wondering if maybe you have any advice for our household doing school in the summer even if daddy’s home? It’s something I would LOVE to do, but our summer looks so different from every other part of the year…perhaps there’s a way to work around it though. Any suggestions welcome!
    Kat’s latest post: Friday Freebie: Philippians 4:13 Memory Verse Printable

  35. We don’t yet… but I am mighty tempted… Since school was “done” at the end of May there is no way we will break until September… plus my husband works 7 days on 7 days off year round so I want to take advantage of off season travel and such… and I think schooling year round with more shorter breaks would be a good way to avoid burnout…
    Sarah’s latest post: Grade 1 Portfolio 3

  36. We’ve always homeschooled year round (kids currently aged 11, 13, 24) , and I’ve always homeschooled. Keeping to a schedule that had nothing to do with our lives (i.e. the public school calendar) doesn’t really make sense for our family. We appreciate having the freedom to simply live and learn in a more natural environment. We take time off from formal lessons when we need to for illness, retreats, holidays etc. learning is always happening! :-)
    Ellie’s latest post: june booklog

  37. I fully intended to keep charging ahead with my curriculum this summer. Instead, I’m finding that I may continue to embrace a more “unschooling” attitude, even as fall comes! My post on this is here: http://homeschool.rebeccareid.com/2013/07/09/summer-school-and-embracing-unschooling/ Sorry my response is so late. I’ve been pondering it for weeks!

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