Our school year is coming to a close. However, many homeschoolers I know continue right through the summer months, choosing to school year round. What are the benefits, if any, of schooling year round?
Every family should have a school schedule that fits their lifestyle. For us, an arbitrary public school schedule doesn’t work, so we have always schooled the year round.
James A. Michener best describes our lifestyle – “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.”
Learning is just a part of our lifestyle. To schedule a mandatory break from school is to suggest a break from learning, and that just isn’t going to happen here.
Some of the benefits of schooling year-round include:
By schooling year round, families can work at their own pace, taking off the days they want while still fulfilling most states’ 180 days of mandatory schooling. We maintain a 4 day school week throughout the year, with about 2 hours of assigned work each day. The rest of the days are used for child directed studies, animal care, gardening, game playing, and pursuing our “vision of excellence.” It suits us to take a short break from desk work in the springtime for planting season, and in the fall during the harvest season. And we take other breaks when we feel we need them, with absolutely no worries.
Children’s natural drives aren’t stifled by an institutional schedule. Projects can naturally ebb and flow. Children can go after a project full force till interest wanes, not having to stop because the schedule says to.
3. Consistent Routine
Schooling year round keeps us productive and lends order to our days. Children know what is expected, and there is no boredom or mischief brought on by idle hands. And with the flexibility of year-round schooling, spontaneity is an accepted and expected part of our routine. So when we find 4 abandon kittens that need to be fed every two hours around the clock, it is our prerogative to shelve something else to fit this into our routine with absolutely no guilt.
4. No Need for Review
You know how the first few weeks “back-to-school” are mostly a review of things learned the previous school year? Well, that isn’t necessary when schooling year round. Because no extensive breaks are taken, information is always fresh in the children’s minds and there is no time wasted having to re-teach important subjects. This is especially a huge deal when it comes to math, which is easily forgotten if not practiced.
5. Early Graduation
While this may be more important to some than others, it is feasible that a year-round homeschooler can earn all the credits necessary to graduate up to two years before those following a public school schedule.
And in the interest of truth and fairness, the downsides could include:
I really don’t think year-round homeschoolers experience any more burnout than other homeschoolers. The objective here is to take breaks when you need them, to re-energize and regroup. Burnout comes from doing the same things over and over again without leaving yourself some breathing room. If you don’t take advantage of the flexibility of scheduling year-round schooling offers, you are setting yourself up for burnout.
Those who like to shoo their children outside all summer, to keep the house mess free, may have to make adjustments to their definition of “clean.” Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; But much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Yes, schooling year round can make for more messes, but the benefits far outweigh the liabilities.
Schooling year round can be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Many students that homeschool year round often graduate early, so the extra money you may spend on curriculum comes out in the wash. Some students that homeschool year round just spread their 180 mandatory days across the year, so there are not really any increased curriculum needs. And some, like us, are low budget homeschoolers, and get the job done just fine with very limited funds.
The bottom line…
Each and every homeschooling family should feel free to choose a schedule that reflects their lifestyle. If your lifestyle radiates work, play, education, health, and spirituality, all seamlessly woven together, then year round schooling may be the way to go.