The most obvious means of quickening and holding the attention of children lies in the attractiveness of knowledge itself

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“Of course, the most obvious means of quickening and holding the attention of children lies in the attractiveness of knowledge itself, and in the real appetite for knowledge with which they are endowed. But how successful faulty teachers are in curing children of any desire to know, is to be seen in many a schoolroom.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 145)

Health and happiness depend largely upon the disregard of sensations

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Health and happiness depend largely upon the disregard of sensations, and the child who is encouraged to say, ‘I am so cold,’ ‘I am so tired,’ ‘My vest pricks me,’ and so on, is likely to develop into the hysterical girl or the hypochondriac man; for it is an immutable law, that, as with our appetites, so with our sensations, in proportion as we attend to them will they dominate us until a single sensation of slight pain or discomfort may occupy our whole field of vision, making us unaware that there is any joy in living, any beauty in the earth.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 2, pp. 286, 287)

Does everyone homeschool year-round?

Dear Carrie

My question is, does everyone homeschool year-round?

I was homeschooled growing up, but now it’s my turn to homeschool my kids! I’m set on using Heart of Dakota, but what I’m not sure about is WHEN to homeschool. A lot of things are different than when my mom taught me. I have always planned to start in the fall like around Sept. and then go until May or June. Then, I thought I’d have my summers off to relax and have fun. I don’t know! I’m just a bit surprised that I have seen so many homeschool families schooling year-round and going through the summer.

Personally, I think my kids would need a break, so that they are fired up to start again in the fall. Plus, I NEED a break too. So, my question is, does everyone homeschool year-round? Or, do some homeschool families take the summers off? If I may ask, what do you do personally, and why?


“Confused About Year-Round Or Summers Off Homeschooling”

Dear “Confused About Year-Round Or Summers Off Homeschooling,”

There are many ways a homeschool “schedule” can run! This is such a blessing! Many families do love to homeschool year-round. We did try a year-round schedule when my youngest was in kindergarten and first grade, but it wasn’t for us. So, we now follow a somewhat more traditional school-year!  We do take our summers off.  I’ll try to explain why – here goes…

One, we really value our summer weather!

Here in South Dakota, our summer weather is fleeting! So, we “live” outside for June, July, and August. We do still save our family vacation for September or October and just take a week off then.

Two, Mike and I both function best on a schedule.

I am a person who functions best on a schedule, and so does Mike.  Once we get in a flow (with my boys especially), taking a week or two off every month really causes us to lose the flow of our schedule. Also, when I did school year round, my little guy was always asking whether we needed to do school today or not. He was confused when we were on and when we were off. Mike and I both like being on the same page, and we like our kids to be on that same page too!

Three, my sons love summer projects!

My boys love their summer projects. Their unstructured days let them really get into book-writing, building things, recording tapes or making long video productions, trying experiments, and so on. They come up with their best ideas with long days of freedom. Often during the year, I’ll point out things that will be good summer projects. Many of them keep a list of these ideas, and when summer arrives… they’re set!

Four, convention season is a busy time for our family!

I am often going to conventions in May and June, so it helps to be done with school earlier.

Five, summer is a wonderful time for me to write!

I love to have the summer to really focus on projects (just like my sons, I guess). I am usually pushing hard to finish writing projects, so the time off from teaching coincides great with that for me!

Six, I’m an organizer and a planner at heart!

I am an organizer and a planner by nature, and having a more traditional school year makes it easier for me to tell where my kids should be academics-wise.

Though we take our summers off, we don’t really follow the public school calendar.

We do not follow the public school calendar, so we have school every day Monday through Friday. We do take off a week at Christmas, an extra day at Easter/Thanksgiving, and several days off when family visits from far away. Otherwise, every week day is a school-day here. My kiddos never ask whether we’re having school today. (Otherwise, I’d find it too easy to say, “No, we’re having a day off!”)

This kind of homeschooling just works for our family! Partially because of where we live, partially because of the lifestyle we lead, and partially because of the way we like our year to go! There is no one right way to choose the days you homeschool, but there is probably one way that is more right for you! You may have to try it a couple of different ways to find what really fits your family. Give your best idea a try, and if it isn’t a fit, adjust it for the next homeschool year. You’ll soon discover what fits your own family best.



P.S.  Check out this post on our board about families who enjoy year-round schooling and families who enjoy summers off – click here!  For further discussion, click here!  And for even more discussion, click here!  And, here!  This is a well-discussed topic by the wise ladies on our board!

P.S.S.  Looking for ideas for daily schedules/routines for homeschooling?  Check out our “Let’s Share Our Schedules” thread which has over 10,000 views by clicking here!

P.S.S.S.  For the benefits of taking time off from teaching, click here!


Graduation for Homeschool Students

From Our House to Yours

Our oldest son is 18 years old and just completed his last Heart of Dakota guide!  It is hard to believe he is graduating.  He has done every HOD guide from PreK through 12th grade, and the years have truly flown by.  We are so proud of him!  Homeschool graduations can be celebrated many different ways. To show one way, I thought for this post I would share some of the things we are doing for graduation.

Take pictures earlier in the year if you can!

Last October a good friend of ours took Wyatt’s pictures for graduation. Fall is a beautiful time of year here.  I knew we’d be crazy busy this spring, so taking the pictures ahead of time really helped.  Our friend just took pictures on her camera different places around where we live.  God’s creation is always a beautiful backdrop!

We picked one dressy outfit and two casual outfits.  I tried to stick with a similar color scheme. I washed, pressed, and set aside the clothes.  We told our friend to just give us at least a few hours’ notice for when she thought the pictures would be good to take.  This is something we can do when we are homeschooling, right?!? Having our son’s senior pictures taken ahead of time allowed me to be able to make the invitations for our open house ahead of time on Shutterfly.  So, all I had to do was fill in the date of our open house later.  My son chose his favorite photos for the invitations and picked a Bible verse for them. Easy peasy!

Choose a date that is different from the dates of public and private school graduations!

We picked a different open house date than local public and private high school’s dates.  We can choose any date for our graduation!  I love the flexibility of homeschooling! Visiting with family and close friends, we picked the date and time that worked best. Choosing a date other than the typical graduation gatherings helps family and friends be more able to attend.

Choose a place that can be set up ahead of time if possible!

We have chosen our garage for an  informal outdoor graduation open house.  This is common where we live, as summers are lovely, and we live on an acreage!  Plus, it gives us a great reason to clean the garage, right?!? I don’t know about your garage, but ours could use a reason for a good cleaning!  We’ve borrowed tables and chairs from my husband’s workplace.

Choose simple table decorations that can be reused for your other children who will be graduating someday!

As we live in the country, we have chosen red gingham tablecloths.  I don’t have to spend much money on them, and I can reuse them. Each 6 foot table will have ball canning jars with Wyatt’s favorite snacks – cashews and M & M’s!  I’ve made a family photobook each year for my husband for Christmas, so I’m setting a different photobook on each table too.  There are many pictures of Wyatt with our family growing up, and I think this could be a good conversation piece!

I’m also planning on having a card table with red gingham tablecloth and with a premade poster for people to sign for Wyatt.  They can write comments as well here, and I think it will be a neat keepsake of the party for him.  I’m putting a red geranium on this table as well (thanks mom for that wonderful idea)!  I’m also going to put his baby photobook on this table.  Finally, the backdrop leaning against the wall will be a metal art wall hanging I made for him with all his senior pictures.  This can hang on the wall in his bedroom after the party (thanks Carrie for this awesome idea)!

Choose food that won’t prevent you from visiting with guests!

I love to cook and to bake!  However, I don’t want to be consumed with this so much leading up to the graduation or during the graduation.  I want to be able to visit with family and friends and be there for Wyatt.  So, we are making pulled pork ahead of time and putting it in crock pots for sandwiches.  We are also putting baked beans in crock pots.  Premade potato salad, chips and dip, coleslaw (thanks Cindy for this idea), and 2 kinds of layered cake from Costco will round out the menu.  Lemonade, coffee (good idea, mom), and water bottles will be available as well.

I hope this has given all of you amazing moms some ideas to simplify graduation for your homeschool senior!  What a blessing to be able to celebrate ‘pressing on toward the goal to win the prize‘ with our graduating teens!!!  God bless!

In Christ,