What does this homeschooling year round thing look like anyway? Don’t you need a break, I can hear you ask? And for many years I followed the “typical” schedule of schooling nine months out of the year because I thought that I needed a break too. But then I realized how much ground we lost each summer. How hard it was to get back to routine and how many weeks of review we had to do just to get back to where we left off. And then I started searching for a different approach.
Here in Missouri we have to log educational “hours” or units for our year. There are no considerations made for younger students versus older ones. My first grader has to have as many hours logged each year as my middle schooler. It isn’t fun or really even fair in my mind but it is the law and so, we do it this way. But with homeschooling year round we have more time to fit everything in, so there is less pressure each day. It allows us to take off a beautiful spring day when we all are itching to get outside and then to do school on the hot days of June. But for us the benefits have been even farther reaching.
As a pastor’s family we are able to “drop” school when a need or situation arises and help my husband out if he needs us to. He works a full time job and then pastors part time (if there is such a thing as “part time” in the ministry) so if things need done during the day he isn’t always free to accomplish them. Now I can help him out without stressing about “falling behind” with my school plans.
Their learning is so much deeper and delightful with all of the pressure off. Since beginning this journey I have watched school work change from a check list of “have to’s” to a joy for all of us. My children check out books at the library about topics that interest them. They use YouTube and Google to find information when they have a question. This love for learning was slow to come but when I was able to quit seeing school as something that had to be accomplished so we could live life and started seeing homeschooling and learning as our life things started to change. I finally had the time to allow them to dig deeper when they wanted instead of pushing them onto the next subject because of time restrictions. Life is so much more pleasant this way.
With more time in which to finish out our yearly goals we are able to spend a little less time each day engaged in structured learning. This helps momma as more and more students are added to our “class” and as laundry and meal prep take more and more work. We generally school from 8am until 1 or 2pm. We do take a break for lunch but that is about it. Now obviously the little guys don’t stay focused as long as the older ones but during this time all of the children are expected to behave in a way that makes learning as easy as possible. I do very little during this time except schooling and parenting. I focus on attitudes and obedience in the toddlers, letters and fine motor skills in the preschoolers, and daily lessons and chores in the older kids. But most housework waits until after school and that is why the shorter day is much nicer.
Now, we do carry a lighter load in the summer months when we mainly focus on math, Bible, and reading with lots and lots of hands on learning, library time, PE time at the park and pool, and well, you get the idea. My children have friends that are off during the summer and I realize that those relationships are important too so I don’t have a problem with taking time off for play dates and such when the opportunity arises. But we still have at least some time each week to fit in some structured learning. And with homeschooling year round a little each day is all it takes to reach our goals and excel above and beyond my expectations. Little minds seem to flourish when you surround them with the tools and encouragement to learn every day without the pressure of hours and hours of book work. Give them time to study what they love and they will surprise you at how much they can learn.