Many homeschooling families prefer homeschooling year-round. There are many benefits to this schedule, including extensive flexibility, shorter workweeks, and frequent short breaks as opposed to one long one. Plus, it’s a great way to retain information among grade levels. And that’s just a good place to start.
Of course, year-round homeschooling doesn’t work for every family. Since freedom to plan your homeschool days in a way that’s best for your family’s specific needs is one of the greatest advantages to homeschooling in the first place, it’s just another option that’s there for the taking if it works. If it doesn’t, you certainly aren’t tied to it. However, if you’ve never had any experience with it, it might be worth a shot at least for one year.
We’re going to take a more in-depth look at year-round homeschooling in this article, so you’ll have some facts with which to make an informed decision for your own home education journey. Remember, that you can take up the new schedule at any time through the school year unless your state and local homeschool laws require something else. Otherwise, you’re free to drop and add anything that makes life easier for your homeschooling family and your child's education.
Year-Round Homeschooling Will Ease the Workload
Just like many private schools and public school systems, many homeschool regulations call for an average of 180 days – more or less (varies by location) – as the required number of days that you must homeschool to be in compliance. For year-round homeschool families, those 180 days can be spread out, any way you choose, over the course of the entire 365-day year. Yes, it means homeschooling for a greater number of days in total, but it adds up to less daily work, yet still allowing the year’s curriculum to be finished in the same amount of time.
This works better for some families because they relish more time off, for a variety of reasons. For homeschooled children who have trouble sitting still, or who have special needs, this extra break each day means massive forward momentum when compared with the more rigid 180-day schedule. It also works well for families where both parents have to work, or in the case of a single parent, where that parent has to work, but still wants or needs to homeschool. Many unschooling families love year-round homeschooling, as well.
Year-Round Homeschooling Means Less Information Loss
Those long summer breaks can be great for families who like to take one major vacation a year without having to worry about homeschooling. Never mind that your child will continue learning each and every day anyway! But along with the long gap between schooling sessions, there may come a lapse of information retention.
If you’ve homeschooled very long at all, you know that coming back after summer break means you’ll spend the first week to a month simply doing reviews and placements tests to see how much information is still there. Math can present the biggest problem in a situation like this, in both elementary school grades and middle school grades, but high school is where your child could suffer the most.
However, when you homeschool year-round, there is almost no information loss, because there’s simply no extensive “time off” that allows that to happen. It might seem like a small thing. After all, how hard can it be to just carry out the reviews and move on? Well, when you add up all that review time and time off, by the senior year, it’s actually a lot more than you think. And if you have the option to give your child a firmer hold on their education, why not do it? This is a huge plus, especially if your child is on the college preparation track.
Most homeschool curriculum works well in a year-round model as well. Since most curricula allow you to go at your own pace, you can start and finish with your schedule.
Homeschooling on Your Schedule
When you homeschool year-round, it’s important to come up with a schedule that really works. Some homeschooling parents choose to commit to a five-day work week but might take their two days off on days other than Saturday and Sunday. For some, it might be Sunday and Monday, or Sunday and whatever other day Mom and Dad are both off work at the same time.
Another way to adapt the schedule is to create four-day workweeks and three-day weekends. And still, others choose the regular schedule for much of the year, leaving week-long breaks at regular times throughout the year, or going to two-day work weeks through the summer. The point is, you won't be doing school full-time, 5 days a week!
Whatever the schedule you come up with, make sure to plan for flexibility. Things simply do not always work out as they’re planned, and with a year-round schedule, if you get too far off the beaten path, you may not have time to catch up before the next school year starts. (It is horrible to start a school year trying to catch up from, or even worse - finish, the last year.) This is one of the few drawbacks to this particular homeschooling schedule, but it can be critical, so it’s truly worth guarding against. Schedule some days as “make-up” days only, so even if something unforeseen happens, you’ll know you have this cushion to fall into, if necessary. If not needed, then you have an extra “off” day!
Don’t Forget to Have FUN in the Summer While You're Homeschooling
If you’re not careful, year-round homeschooling can quickly turn into a case of All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Staying busy and moving towards a goal is great. Setting yourself, and your child, up for massive burnout after the first year is not!
Don’t think you’re missing something by turning down the tone a bit in warm weather. Plan lots of outside learning, field trips, volunteer opportunities, and electives. All of these can create great fun and when truly taking your time and allowing “learning” to happen naturally (much like unschooling!), you might be surprised at the outcome. Especially for younger children, the simple act of exploring nature, or doing educational activities with larger groups of children can really add more to their education than dozens of hours from a book.
As an educator, you get to choose what your schedule looks like for your family. You can plan time throughout the traditional school year to be a part of a homeschool co-op or homeschool support group. These are great ways to supplement what you're doing at your homeschool program while making learning seem more fun since you're out of the house. Homeschool co-ops use a homeschooling curriculum many times and you can "bundle" credits earned there with what you do at home in your classes. Homeschool co-ops and homeschool support groups also provide socialization for your family, as well as learning. Bonus!
Have a One-Subject Summer
Some homeschoolers take one subject in their chosen curriculum and that’s all they cover in the summer. This means, for example, if you leave off science throughout the “normal” school year, then you would spend all summer working only on science and nothing else. Some subjects, of course, are easier to cover in this manner than others would be, so certainly use caution so you don’t cause your child to fall behind because you chose to homeschool your child in this manner.
Math is a subject that many children simply loathe and detest. Leaving it off throughout the regular school calendar year seems like a great idea… until summer rolls around. Those same children that loved the idea of leaving math off the roster until summer now suddenly find themselves in summer with a horrible daily math schedule that will – to them – seem never to end! It’s much easier to let your summer subject be one that your child really enjoys.
Another summer option for subjects is, in addition to concentrating on one subject, summer's can be a great time to supplement learning with enrollment in distance learning using online classes to study subjects of interest to your child. So, while it may not be math, it could be photography or film making!
Use Summer to Try Out a New Homeschooling Style
If you’ve always wondered what unschooling is really like, perhaps a year-round schedule will give you the opportunity to take it for a test drive during the summer. It’s a relatively short time frame, so it wouldn’t require as much commitment as if you simply switched over for regular year of homeschooling.
The same is true for any other homeschooling style. Perhaps you’d like to experiment with the Charlotte Mason Method, or Classical homeschooling. Whatever teaching style you’ve really wanted to try, the summer during a year-round homeschooling schedule is a great way to test the waters.
On the other hand, this could be something that becomes a part of your regular schedule. Homeschooling using one style part of the year and another style for another part of the year. This certainly wouldn’t work for every homeschooling family but, for some, it is the answer they’ve been looking for!
If you’ve decided to give year-round homeschooling a try, good for you! It’s true that you might find it more burdensome than helpful, but if you give it a test run, at least you’ll know that at least you gave it a try. Many homeschooling families find that this is so perfect for their homeschooled kids, they wonder why they hadn’t started sooner.
Again, be sure to check with HSLDA to be certain that your state doesn't require that all of your schooling be done during a certain time frame / time of year. You can visit their site to verify homeschool regulations for your state.
Another great way to learn about year-round homeschooling is to attend a Great Homeschool Convention. These conventions are held in seven different locations, all around the United States, and you’re sure to find one near you. For more information on how to register, book your discounted hotel packages and rooms, and purchase tickets for special events, go to the Great Homeschool Conventions website. You’ll be able to do everything right there on the web.