The key to homeschooling success is to find what works best for your family. Beyond choosing a homeschool style or wading through curriculum options, there’s also the question of when you will homeschool. Will you follow the public school calendar? Or is year round homeschooling the best option?
Year Round Homeschooling
I grew up in the public school system. Then, I went to college and got a teaching degree. Aside from my passion for teaching, I loved that I had my summers off to be with my kids. So, when I decided to homeschool my kids fifteen years ago, I stuck with what I knew. I followed the public school calendar. It made sense to me.
We started school by 9AM, and we ‘did school’ until the neighborhood kids got home from school. We took off for teacher inservice days and holidays, and we counted down to summer break like everyone else did. It never occurred to me to do it any other way.
Then, I learned that there were people who homeschooled year round. And, while it certainly had some appeal, I could not motivate myself to homeschool in the summer. I couldn’t motivate my kids, either. So, we just kept on doing things the way we always had.
But is that the best way to do things?
For the past few years, I have had a child in our local public high school. For that reason, it made more sense than ever for us to follow the public school calendar. We could be off when Isaac was off. We started our school year in August when he started, and we planned to end when he ended each May.
Until this year, I was okay with that plan. However, I’ve grown a bit weary of it. You see, this year, Em had an extended illness that kept us from doing school for most of January and February. So, we are super behind where I wanted us to be at this point in the year. So, we will be schooling this summer.
But, really my discontent with our school schedule started before that. Two years ago, our public schools were shut down a lot over the winter for snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures. In fact, our Christmas break was about 10 days longer than expected due to weather-related cancellations. The first couple of days were a nice break and chance to recover from the holidays. The rest… BORING! Em whined at the thought of doing school while her brother was home, and no amount of talk about wrapping our school year up early could convince her to do any school work. (Yes, I’m the parent, but trying to educate a brick wall is pretty useless!)
Then, there’s summer break. Her bestie (and the only kid she plays with in our neighborhood) visits family several weeks each summer. Again, we enjoy doing some fun stuff together for the first few days, but then she’s bored. She doesn’t have anyone to play with or anything to do. Perfect time to squeeze in a little school, right?
We’re making the switch…
So, I’ve been prepping her all year that this is our last year of following the public school calendar. My son is a senior in high school, and he’ll be moving away to college in August. I will no longer have a child in the public school system. I am very much looking forward to doing my own thing!
I won’t have a set schedule like I’ve seen others do. And, I’m not sure we’d be considered ‘real’ year round homeschoolers. I’m planning to start in September, and we’ll just go until we’ve hit our 180 days. If that comes in May – YAY! If it doesn’t happen until July – that’s okay, too.
I won’t worry about falling behind. I will enjoy taking off a few extra weeks in December if Emma dances in our city’s Nutcracker ballet again this year. This winter, when the temperatures are so low it’s too cold to go outside, we’ll do a little school. If we want to go visit Isaac at college, we can.
I’ve tried to be flexible with our homeschool schedule even when I followed the public school calendar. However, I’m looking forward to being flexible without the extra constraints. I’m excited to switch to a four-day schedule next year, as well, to accommodate Emma’s desire to join a co-op.
Do you follow the public school calendar? Do you homeschool year round? Or do you just do your own thing?
This post is part of my ABC’s of Homeschooling series! To read the entire series, visit my ABCs of Homeschooling page. I’ll add to this page each day as the posts go live.