Are you contemplating year-round homeschooling? Learn about its plusses and minuses, and decide if it is right for your family.
Public schools have talked about it. You may even have friends who do it. But is year-round homeschooling right for your family? Consider its benefits and drawbacks.
The Benefits of Year-Round Homeschooling
Year-round homeschooling wouldn’t be a thing if it didn’t have some major advantages.
Take Breaks When Needed
If you are on a traditional calendar, you school for 9 months straight (with a short holiday break in December). That creates two long stretches of time. Every year in February or March, most everyone hits the wall. Maybe that looks like exhaustion or procrastination or depression; maybe it means you question whether homeschooling is working for your family.
With year-round homeschooling, you don’t have to do 9 months straight. You can take actual restful breaks when you need them. This means you could work for 3 months and then take a whole month off. You could break for a whole month in December to fully enjoy the holidays without the pace of the math curriculum hanging over your head. You and your kids don’t have to hit the wall.
A Slower Pace
Sometimes learning takes time. This doesn’t mean that you need longer lessons. You may, in fact, need space between the lessons to give your child’s brain a chance to sort through the information. Breaking a difficult concept into small steps taught over days can help your child learn without frustration.
If you homeschool year-round, you can go at a slower pace. You can move through a book more slowly, or do school fewer days per week. You will still finish the math book (or the spelling book, or the history book), but you will do it at the pace that works best for your child.
No Summer Slump
Have you ever come back from summer vacation only to discover that your child has forgotten how to multiply, how to spell, and how to write? You’ve just witnessed the summer slump, and it is the reason traditional school systems have considered moving to a year-round calendar.
Typically, you spend the first two months of the new school year reviewing concepts from the previous grade. With year-round schooling, you can eliminate that review because that knowledge is fresh in your child’s mind. Presto! You’ve just saved two months of review!
Okay, so this might seem small, but vacation deals are a plus to year-round schooling. Because you can take breaks when needed, you can plan for vacations (even extended vacations like cross-country road trips) for the best times for your wallet. Have you ever priced cruises for spring break? Astronomical! Homeschooling year-round means you can take breaks when you want.
The Drawbacks to Year Round Homeschooling
If homeschooling year-round were all advantages and no drawbacks, everyone would be doing it. Here are the cons.
Psychological Homeschool Burnout
Year-round homeschooling. It simply sounds exhausting because it makes it seem like you never stop schooling. In actuality, you are doing just as much school as everyone else (¾ of the weekdays of the year, 180 days), but you are dispersing them differently. Regardless, the idea of homeschooling year-round can have a negative effect on yourself and your children. If you want to start this type of calendar, you are going to need buy-in from your kids.
Out of Sync with Others
My father-in-law broke his leg the day before his 9th birthday party. It was a summer outdoor yard party with sprinklers and the whole thing, and his parents decided not to cancel the party last minute. He watched through the window while the kids played at his birthday party. He said it was the saddest day ever.
Questionable parenting aside, we all know what it’s like to see “everyone else” having fun while you have to work. If you opt to school year-round, your calendar will be out of sync with others. The neighborhood kids will be playing outside during the summer while your kids are inside doing grammar or math. It will be hard to watch.
You’ll also be potentially out of step with co-ops or outside classes. If you are a tried-and-true independent homeschooler, this may not make a difference in your planning. If you rely on outside classes and extra-curriculars, it may be an issue.
If you have been homeschooling for at least one year, you likely know the race to finish the book by May or June. You feel the need to finish 4th-grade math in, well, 4th grade. Not so with year-round schooling. There is no tyranny of deadlines, no hard-and-fast “this is when 4th grade must be completed.” You can move at the natural pace of your child’s learning and throw the deadlines out the window.
Whether You Should Homeschool Year-Round
When determining if you should homeschool year-round, you need to make a list of your priorities. What is most important to you? Is it the flexibility of taking breaks when needed and reducing burnout? Or is it aligning your calendar with that of your co-op or online classes? When you prioritize what you want, you’ll see if it aligns more fully with a traditional calendar or a year-round calendar.