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Homeschooling year round probably elicits the same response as marking your calendar for an extended stay in a dental chair, drills whirring, brights lights in your face. Before you wince for the novocaine shot, consider what it will actually mean for your family. We have chosen this route with great success, and still have time to hit the beach, Walt Disney World, and even lay around and do our favorite thing: nothing.
Some brick and mortars have experimented with the idea of twelve-month school. In those cases, they usually modify the schedule so that the students attend a full nine weeks, followed by a two-week break. Those two-week breaks eventually add up to the length of their lost summer vacation. We are not following this structure, but instead, we are loosely organizing the year in such a way that the entire year of learning takes place, without the pressure of cramming it all into ten months.
We found this idea when looking for a little homeschool encouragement, after a serious period of questioning if we could keep our sanity while being home educators who ALSO work from home. All it took was a little change of pacing and a few glances at the calendar. We don’t actually say “we must do school four days a week for twelve months.” Heavens, no! What we actually do is a lot more informal.
Our journey is simple. We aim to do school four days a week, for about three hours a day. At this rate we would have more than the time needed to complete the school year. We take full advantage of our flexibility. Let’s say the kids are having a rough day, and are refusing. Or let’s say we have reached maximum homeschool burnout. We can simply take the day off, let them play, and put it off until the next day knowing that we have more than enough time to complete the year’s work.
We can even take weeks off at a time, as long as we don’t overdo it. If a kid has the flu or a parent feels like we’ve reached the level of Homeschool Horror: When You Just Want To Quit But Must Carry On. In those cases, we will put our materials away for a seven-day stretch, and let our bodies and minds rejuvenate before attempting to continue.
Children in standard brick and mortar schools often reach a burnout phase and begin to simply go through the motions. Yet they are forced to continue, they show up every day, and they do poorly on assessments. If they miss days, they have to do the make-up work and end up working double-time when they return from a prolonged absence. Not in homeschool!
The twelve-month schedule is also beneficial in that you don’t have to spend so much time reviewing when a new year begins. In the standard classroom, so much time is spent simply whipping the kids back into shape in those first few months. Not only are their brains soggy from being off for two months, but they also aren’t accustomed to the routines yet. This is not the case when you go year round.
We also take advantage of going on field trips while the other kids are behind their desks. Places are super crowded during the summer, so we always venture out in the middle of the week. Because we have such a spread out curriculum calendar, we can do this without losing traction. This schedule also gives the kids a purpose during the summer months, which would normally be spent trying to beat the heat in our home state of Florida. It is ungodly hot, and they literally tend to veg out–especially during the afternoon hours. The year round schedule keeps them on their toes, as part of a routine, and keeps their brains sharp throughout the year.
We purposely set a loose structure so that we can have days that momma can sit back and watch Ellen while the kids try to burn down the house. The essence of keeping them home for their education is that we are rejected the rigidity of the system, thus homeschooling year round allows us to pick and choose when our precious monsters will perform and retain, rather than forcing them to zombie through it.