Choosing to homeschool will change the way you think about a lot of things. The longer I homeschool, the more the lines between school and life blur, and that makes it hard for me to answer the question of whether or not we are year-round homeschoolers. Maybe you have this problem, too?
Why We Probably Aren’t Year-round Homeschoolers
I don’t assign math in the summer months.
June through August, I don’t ask my sons to save their work or projects in a three ring binder in our homeschool closet.
We have a last day of school celebration in May and a back to school celebration in September.
My boys do appreciate the school’s out for summer mode of thinking that settles over our house during the months of June, July, and August. But when I look at the hands-on reality of it, there’s not a huge difference in our lives when summer comes around.
Why We Actually Might Be Year-round Homeschoolers
In the summer months, my sons are still…
reading—a lot, by choice.
writing—a lot, by choice.
As a family, we are still doing schoolish activities:
We still pull out board and card games (that are somehow deemed educational) and have a blast playing them.
We are field tripping—probably more in the summer months than during the traditional school year!
Speaking of field trips—when you visit a museum in October, you count it as a homeschool field trip, right? What happens when you visit that same museum in the middle of July? Is it a summer outing? A family vacation? Does the time of year change the box you can check off for doing it?
Your Answer Regarding Year-round Homeschooling May Have to Do With How You Homeschool
To be honest, your answer regarding whether you’re a year round homeschooler or not probably has a lot to do with how you do school. If you run your school with a schedule and use a lot of formal curriculum, you might see an obvious difference in your daily life during the school year versus the summer. If summer means sleeping in and no due dates, your kids are definitely going to know that summer means no school.
But if your homeschool is less structured or you tend to be closer to the child-directed/interest-led/unschooling side of things, there might not be a whole lot of difference in what you count as school throughout the calendar year.
When my sons were younger, I would have said that summer break not only meant that they got a break, but also that I got a break. Summer meant I wasn’t preparing lesson plans or standing in front of them teaching whatever topic was scheduled in the Instructor's Guide. But now that my sons are older and more independent in their education, I find there is less of a difference for us between the school year and the summer vacation. Many of the things they’re choosing to do for school (and that I’m tracking as such) are things they’re still doing in the summer. Our family has completely absorbed a natural lifestyle of learning!
Homeschooling changes how you look at all sorts of things, especially those things that directly have to do with how and when your kids are learning. And when you consider that all of life is learning, then the point of what counts as school and what doesn't becomes moot. Just enjoy working through your curriculum, reading great books, taking fascinating field trips, and learning alongside your kids without stressing over the labels. When it comes down to it, it all counts.
About the Author
Amy Dingmann lives in Minnesota with her husband where they have been homeschooling their two sons since 2007. Her hobbies include filling up her sons’ bottomless pits, drinking a lot of strong coffee, and smiling. Her least favorite subject is math. Her favorite subjects are everything else. She likes talking to other homeschooling parents and assuring them that even though they worry they’re totally screwing things up, they actually totally and completely rock. Amy blogs at The Hmmmschooling Mom, and works as an author/speaker on homeschooling and parenting/family topics.