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Why We are Homeschooling Year-Round

This year we're making a big change in how we approach schooling. We're at the end of our second official year of homeschooling children in grade school (I feel like homeschooling before the first grade is an entirely different thing because we're not usually focusing on any actual academics), and after our summer meltdown fiasco last year, I've decided that we need to homeschool year-round. Many countries use a year-round schedule for their public schools, and it allows their students to avoid the "summer slide" that students in the US tend to have.

Last summer I wasn't prepared to do any schooling through the summer, so I just let the boys play outside pretty much all day long. Now, I want to be clear, I don't regret that at all! I'm a huge believer in unstructured play for children, and I never feel bad for giving them time to do it. However, by the end of summer, they had some pretty serious regressions, especially with reading. Which meant I spent a great deal of time trying to reteach things that we had already covered! If there is one thing I truly dislike, it is having to do something over again and feeling like my initial work was wasted. It was at that point that I made up my mind to not go through that again. Not. Ever.

What is Year-Round Homeschooling?

Well, basically it's exactly what it sounds like! Instead of pushing through to school from the end of summer to mid-spring every year, and then taking a huge break for summer, we continue our learning all year long and intersperse our breaks in between them! What that looks like for us is we school 3 weeks on, and one week off, September through May. Halloween and Thanksgiving each get their own week off, Christmas/New Years gets a 3-week break, and Easter gets a 2-week break. We have 36 weeks of schooling, and 16 weeks of breaks, which gives us an extra floating week to take time off somewhere in the school year. This helps us avoid being burned out, but it will also allow us to keep on a consistent daily rhythm to help our ADHD kiddos stay well grounded.

This doesn't mean that we are doing academics and lessons all day every day though. We spend lots of time outside, and leave afternoons open to free play and exploration. I'm counting things like our swimming lessons and field trips as part of our schooling as well. We're using the summer terms to focus on skills that I have observed need a stronger focus (like reading) and we will be practicing the subjects that they are doing well (math...) Please don't ask me how my kids are struggling with reading and zooming ahead with math when I was the exact reverse as a child...

We will also be using short lessons to keep subjects from becoming tiresome. My ADHD kids can especially struggle with longer lessons, so we will keep actual lessons short and sweet! One essential aspect to making this work is to keep screen time to a minimum during the day. When children don't have screens in their faces all day long they choose other things to do to entertain themselves. Like learning engineering principles by building things. Or spending time reading. Or doing puzzles, playing games, listening to music, learning new handwork skills.... All of that happens when kids don't have loads TV or screen time! Now, don't get me wrong, there are definitely days when the TV goes on in the morning and stays on till after lunch (usually when I've got cleaning to catch up on), but I try to keep those days to a minimum as much as possible.

how to Start Homeschooling Year-Round

The very first thing that we need to do is figure out the school year. I have each school year start in September (not mid-August like US public schools do now), and I plot it out in four week increments of three weeks on - one week off, and I add the extra weeks off for Christmas and Easter. This gives us a framework to base our schooling on for the coming year.

Next we will figure out our block schedule for the year. We will alternate our focus between Language Arts & Social Studies, and Math & Science. I'm combining those topics because they work well together, and it allows us to make sure we aren’t missing anything.

We will also be using a curriculum this year, from The Good and the Beautiful, for language arts and math. Up till now I’ve been a bit eclectic and open-ended about our learning style, and this past winter it just became too much for me to handle. My husband and I were both in college classes, homeschooling the kids, and near the end of the semester our apartment flooded, leaving us with the majority of our books in storage and living in a space half the size of what we had before. Thankfully my friend was selling her virtually unused TGatB curriculum, and I was able to move us onto that smoothly. Many families use a “Living Book” type option for learning, and avoid workbooks at all costs. I just haven’t found that to be what works well for us this year!

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Homeschooling Year-Round

It can seem daunting and intimidating to do school all year, especially when that’s not at all what our public educating counterparts do, but I can already tell that it will make a huge difference in our lives. Schooling through the year gives us the opportunity to continue building our skill sets in things like reading and math, and helps to save us from being burned out. I’m excited to see how this summer goes, and how my kids progress this year in their studies. If you would like more ideas about how to homeschool your kids, then follow me on Pinterest to keep up with the latest ideas!

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