Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why We Homeschool Year-Round + Summer Homeschool Plans










One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the ability to set our own schedule.  Our first year of official homeschooling, we stuck with a traditional school schedule.  I realized after that year that I would quickly burn out. So over the years, we've settled into a year round schedule. I found our school routine naturally settled into a 5-6 weeks on, one week off rotation.  We also take a longer (generally 2-3 weeks off) break in December and in July.

We love this schedule for many reasons, and I'll cover the main reasons here.

Slow and steady progression.  I'm a big believer in doing a little bit every day.  The habit of a little bit of housework or a little bit of reading time (or so many other things) adds up to huge progress over time. The same is true for our schoolwork.  We spend about 60 minutes together in official schoolwork daily (the big kids--ages 8 and 12--complete a little bit  more independent work on their own in addition to that time) and I don't feel like we are lacking anything.



Greater flexibility in taking time off throughout the year.  We usually "do school" for six weeks and then take a week off, all year long.  I find that this is the perfect rotation for us.  Usually we're all ready for a change after six weeks.  During our off weeks, we go on trips or work on house projects or other things that it's harder to get to during a typical school week.

We also do longer breaks in December and June/July.  This allows us to really enjoy the Christmas holidays. We are able to spend time making gifts and reading the holiday books we love and less focused time on academics.

No Summer Slide.  The first month or two of a traditional school year is generally spent reviewing what the students learned last year and then forgot over the summer.  We don't see any of the dreaded slide, because we never put schoolwork aside long enough for the kids to forget what we've covered. Because they are doing a little bit of math almost every day, it takes just a few minutes, and it's not even a challenge most days because the kids know it is expected and needs to be done before they can play with friends or have screen time, etc.

We are able to spend a shorter amount of time each day, because learning is spread more evenly throughout the year.

Learning is a part of life.  Our morning routine is so much a part of our life that it almost feels unnatural to not "do school".

The breaks keep us from burning out.  Our week-long vacations are a time for us to work on other projects and for me to check larger organizing projects or other items off my to-do list.  I make a long list at the beginning of each "off" week and try to get to as much as I can. I usually do some extra cooking to stock the freezer, deep clean a room/closet or two, work on scrapbooks, and catch up on anything that's been driving me crazy lately.



Our Summer Homeschool Plans


We do still have Morning Time throughout the summer, but it is short and sweet.  It includes me reading aloud from three books while the kids eat breakfast and play/color at the table.



We are currently reading Farmer Boy and I'm hoping to also read The Whipping Boy, Baby Island and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

We read a few pages from Illustrated Stories from the Book of Mormon (the 16 volume set)
as well as a short story or poem from our Book Trails Set.

That's it for our Morning Time during the summer.  It's a simple, enjoyable start to our day.  Our Littles are in and out of the room while I read aloud to the kids. Edith (8 months) is often nursing or eating cheerios/raisins in the high chair.  Elijah (3) is loud and distracting and pays attention for only short snippets. I try to keep them entertained as much as possible, but there are definitely interruptions. That's just how it is.


Independent Summer Work

Our independent work consists of three subjects: math, reading and language arts. Each of our big kids do a math lesson daily (Ellie is using Teaching Textbooks and Ethan is using MathSeeds). It takes about 15-20 minutes.  It's enough to keep things fresh, but we still get to enjoy the long, lazy summer days.

We are trying out the Language Arts curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful this summer to see if we want to purchase it for the fall. I'm mostly focusing on spelling/ sight words with my 8 year old and the 12 year old is focusing on grammar.

They are also required to read for 30 minutes per day. Because my 8 year old is a somewhat reluctant reader, he can choose whatever he is excited to read.. While I would rather have him read a classic or something with high moral value, I'm forcing myself to let go of some control over the content, just so I can get his nose in a book.  I do choose books I'd like for him to read and "strew" them strategically around the house, but I don't ever tell him what to read.  He often ends up picking up those books and enjoying them, but he wouldn't if I flat out suggested them.

On the other hand, our 12 year old is a complete bookworm.  She reads for hours a day.  In fact, I often need to remind her to set down her book so she can do other things.  Just yesterday she forgot to bring a book while we were on a little hike/picnic up the canyon.  She was so desperate for reading material as we sat around the campfire that she was reading the packaging from our lunch foods, down to every last ingredient.  Because getting her into a book is not the challenge, I give her a list of books I'd like her to read and she gets to choose from that list for her 30 minutes of assigned reading.


I spend a lot of time reading with our preschooler and he's just starting to learn letter names.  He is one active, busy boy so we only spend a little bit of time each day doing anything formal. 

Field Trips and Adventures

We also spend a lot of time outside in the summer. We keep a garden and the kids help with weeding. We hike and explore at least once per week and go camping as often as possible. We have a weekly park day with fellow homeschoolers, and we go on lots of field trips.  Already this year we've been to a historical reenactment at Golden Spikethe Treehouse Museum, the Oregon Trail Museum and the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as well as several hikes.


I'm looking forward to this summer and the learning and adventures we have in store.

What do your summers look like?

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