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!


Train Your Children During Extended Break Time!

Teaching Tip

How can you use your break time to train your children?

Are you taking some sort extended break time? If so, it is a good idea to think of this time as a training period for your children. You can use your time to train your children in habits that will help them have a better school year. Over the summer, I’ll share some possible training and scheduling tips to work on during this less scheduled season. These tips are designed to help your school year run more smoothly.

How can you use your summer to train your little ones?

My first tip is to spend time thinking of any little ones you may have in your home. Begin pondering ways that they can be directed during the day, so they are not continually underfoot! When our boys were younger, we had our older boys take a turn playing with our two younger ones. This equated to my oldest son having a 30 min. playtime with each of his two youngest siblings separately during the day. My second oldest son also had individual 30 min. playtimes with each of his two younger siblings each day.

What are the benefits of summer playtimes?

We kept the playtime routine in the summer too, and fine-tuned it so my boys knew what was allowed. This routine made the transition to “school” playtimes very easy! It also helped my older sons to be less self-centered with their time during the summer! Plus, it only took an hour out of each of my older sons’ days. My little ones really looked forward to their playtimes with the big boys.

How do “playtimes” transition to more mature “together time?”

As our sons have gotten older, our third son now has a playtime daily with his younger brother. Our older sons still do “playtimes” with their younger brothers, but the “playtimes” have matured. For “playtimes” now, the boys play basketball at the park, shoot nerf-guns outside, and play catch in the backyard. They go on bike rides, play X-Wing at the coffee shop, and paint models while listening to audio books. The boys draw and create together, swim, and film their own movies. These days the “playtimes” rotate to accommodate our older sons’ busy schedules. Try establishing a playtime routine with your little ones, and see what you think! We’ve seen the relationships they build last into adulthood.


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