We are headed into spring- although the weather here isn't so sure. It's the time of year when many school children- traditional and homeschooled- are thinking about summer break. But we've been schooling year round for most of our homeschooling years. We get mixed reactions when we share that with others. Some homeschoolers smile and nod because they've been schooling year round also. But some traditional and homeschooled students think my poor kids have it so bad.
Our "summer quarter" has never been as heavy as our regular school. We've had the opportunity to do some really fun things in the summer as well as tracking days- we have to have 180 for our state- so that we have fewer days to do throughout the year.
Here are the common questions I hear when people find out we homeschool year round.
So why would you decide to homeschool year round?
2. We- meaning me especially- function better with a schedule. When we have long, lazy days with no routine, people become out of sorts. There is more bickering and more general bad attitudes. I feel out of sorts when we don't have some kind of schedule.
3. Storing up those school days during the summer means more days we can take off throughout the year. We generally take off three weeks near Christmas. And I also like to take off much of May. It's a beautiful month here, and the weather is usually great for hanging out outdoors.
4. There are fun subjects and studies that I am interested in and that the kids are interested in that we just can't get to during the regular year. I'm not an unschooler. Sometimes I think I could be. But I'm just not there. And I just can't give up all "regular" curricula so that I can feel like we are "covering enough." Because of that, we sometimes have fun things we'd like to study that we just don't have time for. Doing school in the summer provides a perfect time for some of those fun studies.
What about vacations?
We do take vacations. Every summer we go to the beach with Jason's family for about a week around July 4. We also have a VBS in our church every July, and we are very involved in that. Occasionally we've had the opportunity to do other vacation sorts of things in the summer or in early fall. I arrange our schedule around these vacations. We still take off school for these things, although sometimes I will fit in an educational field trip on a vacation.
I use a quarterly schedule, although the quarters aren't evenly divided.
Quarter 1- August-October
Quarter 2- November-February
Quarter 3- March- May
Quarter 4- June- July
In Quarters 1-3 we use our "normal" curricula. In Quarter 4 we have a summer schedule and a more loose curricula.
We plan for a shorter school day in the summer- usually just a few hours. And I plan more field trips, scheduling some of the special things our community has for the summer like free movies, library programs, and museum programs.
I choose fun things that we can do with all ages. Here are some of them.
* One year I bought a VBS starter kit from Answers in Genesis. It was an Egyptian theme and it had a focus on cool things about the human body (specially created by God). I bought two lapbook accompaniments- an ancient Egypt lapbook and a human body lapbook. Every week we did one day's worth of VBS activities, some of the Egypt lapbook and some of the human body lapbook.
* One year I bought a study of our state at the homeschool convention, and we did a state study for the summer.
* One year I bought a geography workbook, and our whole summer study focused on geography activities.
* Occasionally I have purchased the summer activity books-Vacation Stations- from Bob Jones University Press. We've used the Summer Bridge Books you can buy at most book stores also, but I really liked the format of the BJUPress ones.)
Schooling through the summer has always been a good thing for us. Last summer it was a little harder because my older kids have things going on. One was a camp counselor. There were lots of times that we weren't all home. This summer, I'm planning on revisiting the state study with my younger girls. And then I'd like to at least do some read alouds that include everyone.
If you school through the summer, leave me a comment and give me some ideas of what you do and how it works for you.
This post was originally linked up with Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.