I wanted to publish this post on Tuesday for this week’s “Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings“. But I didn’t get this post finished on Tuesday…or Wednesday. And I didn’t have anything written yet for this week’s “Blogging Through the Alphabet” post, so…now T can be for “Ten Reasons to Take a Summer Break.”
As homeschoolers, we set our own schedule for the days, months and years. Some states may require a minimum number of days or hours (ours doesn’t), but for the most part each family can plan its days off and vacations as it suits them.
More and more public and private schools are moving to year-round school schedules of various sorts. People often ridicule the typical school year schedule as being outdated. (Though I have learned through reading the “Laura” and “Rose” Little House books that school terms in the pioneer days, were perhaps actually in the Summer and Winter, with Fall and Spring off for farm work!). So why might a homeschool family want to take the summer off? Here are a few reasons we take a break (or significantly scale back) from school work in the summer:
1. To enjoy beautiful summer weather outside. Okay, so this may not apply to all areas of the country and it doesn’t apply to us this week (or for most anyone…isn’t almost the entire country under a heat wave?) — but especially here in the northern US, summer is the only time we can swim outside and consistently be guaranteed weather warm enough for going to the park or other outside activities.
2. To take advantage of inexpensive summer recreation programs. Our park system offers many low-cost, fun athletic opportunities for kids. These are not high pressure competitive sports. Miss M has the opportunity to play tennis every morning for four weeks (at least every morning that the court isn’t too wet!). The program she participates in teaches basic tennis skills to kids through fun games. Mr. E is doing a once-a-week soccer class that, again, teaches skills through fun activities and mini-games. In past summers we have done swimming lessons and tumbling classes through the parks as well.
3. To enjoy more playdates and casual hangout time with friends. Maybe some homeschoolers can fit in lot of playdates with other homeschool friends while also getting school work done…but I find it hard to do this when we are on our regular academic year schedule. In order to actually “get school done” each day, we need to be home and working on academic pursuits most mornings. By the time school is done for the day, we may still have errands to run and there are always chores to do. Soon we’ll have a more fixed nap-time to consider (once Baby J is too old to just fall asleep anywhere in his car seat or a baby carrier!). Some days we have our co-op or other extra-curricular activities. By the time you consider other families’ schedules on top of our own, it can be hard to find time to spend with friends!
4. To take extra field trips. Ditto to all the reasons in #3 — I can only handle a max of one field trip per week during the school year, and sometimes only one every couple of weeks. But two or three outings per week in the summer is very possible!
5. To be able to say “yes” to reading all afternoon or doing long, complicated craft projects. With no pressure to get regular school work done and all day to get errands/chores done, we can easily pull out a picnic blanket and read all afternoon in the shade (or in the air conditioning instead!).
6. To give mom a chance to plan and organize for the new year. Our school room gets cluttered. Our art and game cabinets often need a summer clean-out after a year of use (not so much this year, since we just overhauled the school room in January!). I need time to decide on new curricula or plan what we’re going to do.
7. To allow time for kids to develop more maturity. Whether it is character areas or academic areas that a child was struggling with, a several weeks or a couple months of time off may allow for some of those areas to “percolate” under the surface and start anew more ready to tackle their school work.
8. To have time for focused practice or study in a certain area. I find it hard to fit in some of the “extras” during the school year — Cooking/”Home Ec” is one that comes to mind right away, as well as art and music appreciation. A summer break from the regular routine might allow the opportunity to spend time on electives like these. I’m also hoping to hold a “Chore bootcamp” for the kids this summer (and hopefully make it fun!) to teach them new chores I’d like them to be responsible for over the next school year. Summer might also be a good time to do an in-depth study on a topic you just couldn’t quite fit in during your regular academic year.
9. To allow for travel or camp without taking too much time from the regular routine. Of course, homeschoolers can take a break for vacation any time. But I have noticed that sometimes preparing for a trip or vacation plus “recovering” from it after the fact sometimes takes up more time than the trip itself. Or maybe that’s just me?!? ;-) During summer break, it’s no big deal if a week long vacation feels like it really takes two weeks of your time once all that packing, unpacking and laundry is factored in. Our kids also get to spend a few days each at Grandma’s house. This is one-on-one time with Grandma, which they just love! It’s easier for us to fit in this unusual scheduling issue of one kid at a time being away from home during the summer break.
10. To just have a break. We all get tired of doing the same thing…even the kids! It’s nice to have a break from the routine and get back to things with a fresh view.
With all those reasons taken into account…I will say that we don’t take the whole summer off or take as long of a break as some public schools do! After about six weeks completely off we start adding in a subject or two — but we are still “mostly” on our summer routine until late August or early September. I also encourage some regular math practice, and reading is a habit that never stops at our house! But all in all, late May through late August definitely have a different feel than the other nine months of the year!