More than once- probably many times- my children have gone to answer the door to the neighborhood children around 10 or so on a summer morning only to break the bad news that they can't play right then because they are finishing school. I'm sure that this has caused our neighborhood kids to be supremely glad that they do not homeschool.
Once upon a time, when I had only young children, homeschooling in the summer was an obvious choice to me. As my children get older and the family goes in more directions all summer, homeschooling through the summer hasn't been so simple of a choice. And I've had to rethink some of those ideas I've had about year round homeschooling. What I've come to realize is that, perhaps, this is one of those things that changes in different seasons of life. And that it's important to look at everything that is going on in the family as we make a decision about homeschooling through the summer.
Homeschooling through the summer pros:
- It helps us to keep a regular routine. I function better with routine. I just do. Some of my children do too (while others really couldn't care less). Although I've always changed up our schedule to make summer schooling lighter, just doing some school all summer helps to maintain those regular routines.
- It keeps kids off electronics. We live in the South. Summers are hot. Sometimes they are very hot. When the weather is too hot for playing outside, kids stay inside. And sometimes that means that they want to spend all day in front of a screen. Keeping a light school routine helps to cut down on the time that they have to just veg with electronics.
- It means that we have more days off at other times. Our state requires 180 days of school. If we are counting some of those days during the summer, it means that we can take more days off for Christmas or Thanksgiving or even just for random times throughout the year. If we take all summer off, we have to follow a traditional school schedule during the year, meaning we only get short breaks for holidays.
- It keeps kids learning. Three months of no school always results in loss of skill and forgetting of learned information. That's why even traditional schools now typically give kids some kind of "summer homework" that they are supposed to complete over the summer. It's why publishers can sell very popular summer workbooks for kids. Keeping some homeschooling going all summer helps to prevent this loss. It keeps kids actively learning instead of forgetting.
Homeschooling through the summer cons:
- You can burn out faster. Face it. We moms need a break. We need some unstructured time where we aren't lesson planning and recording information and teaching daily. Too much homeschooling in the summer can leave us tired and burned out.
- Kids can burn out. Kids need a break as well. Sometimes they just hit a wall. Trying to force homeschooling to continue all summer even if kids are getting burned out can really frustrate them and you. And then schooling will be counter-productive because they are going to struggle to focus and learn when they just really need a break.
- Schedules conflict with the rest of the world. I admit that there are many times I like the fact that our schedules can be different from the traditionally schooled kids. When we get to go to a popular museum or the zoo or an amusement park during times when most kids are in school, it's great. But, sometimes the schedule conflicts work against us. There are lots of fun activities for kids that are only open in the summer- our YMCA waterpark, our local amusement park, some city camps, summer programs at the library. And homeschooling all summer can keep us from participating.