How Year-Round Homeschooling Can Help Your Student’s Achievement
Guest post by Amanda Sims.
When we began homeschooling our oldest at the age of five, year-round schooling was not the plan. I grew up in the public school system and assumed we would school the same way. Start in the middle of August, take the normal holidays off, Christmas vacation, spring break, and wrap up the middle of May. We had our fifth child halfway through the first year. Needless to say, we did not finish in the middle of May. A few years into our journey my husband suggested schooling year round. Initially, I liked this idea so we could take days off here and there for whatever came up without “falling behind”. As the years went on, I discovered how beneficial schooling year-round was for our family.
Making A Simple Schedule
In the beginning, staying traditional, I made a plan for each day I wanted to do school. August 15, lesson 1, August 16, lesson 2, and so on. But when the unavoidable happened and, for example, lesson 20 didn’t get done on October 3, that shifted everything. Right at the start of the year! I had to erase 150 lessons from the calendar and rewrite them. This happened countless times and it was frustrating and discouraging. I can’t tell you why but I did this for several years.
While getting ready to start a new school year I realized the best way to “schedule” school. At that time our state laws required 172 contact days of school. I thought, how many days do I have actually have available for school? 239. I took 365 and subtracted weekends, holidays, vacations, and any other days I knew we would need to take. (ex. new baby) Then I subtracted the 172 days we were required to have. That left us 67 days. Instead of putting all of those days at the end we interspersed them throughout the year. If someone was ill, there was a funeral, the house needed a good cleaning, just needed a day off, etc… we had days to play with without falling behind in our school work.
Using Time Off To Your Student’s Advantage
Our goal with year-round schooling was not to take as much time off as possible, but there are unavoidable circumstances that are out of our control. Small breaks during the year give an opportunity to recharge and refocus. Also, I have found that I can take advantage of days that weren’t planned as school days or when something comes up and we don’t have a full day of school. These days are the perfect opportunity to dig deeper into a subject or give extra help if someone is struggling. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Reading- evaluate where your student struggles. Work on areas that your child finds difficult.
- Math- go over the concepts they haven’t mastered yet. (I remember doing just long division for two days.)
- Writing- take the day after a field trip, vacation, or life-changing event and have your student write about it. This is also a great opportunity to improve penmanship.
- Science- do a whole day of experiments.
- Take field trips
- Explore subjects that are not in your curriculum or that interest your children
- Catch up if needed
I have seen my children advance in many areas by using our “extra” days to focus on a particular subject or because they took initiative and worked on something on their own.
Year-Round Schooling Helps to Avoid the Summer Slide
The number one reason we now school year round is to avoid the summer slide. Skills and knowledge are lost when students have too much consecutive time off from academic study. I have seen this with my own kids with the few summers we took off, when we lost loved ones, and when a new little one was added to the family. Getting back into school was hard, weeks of reviewing were needed and concepts retaught. It was a big struggle for some of them. I firmly believe year-round schooling with smaller breaks throughout has proven to greatly benefit our learning.
Amanda Sims – Volunteer Contributor
Amanda Sims has been homeschooling since 2005. She and her husband, DJ, married in 1999 and are parents to seven girls and two boys. Amanda and her family moved to Texas from Colorado, where she was born and raised. She is actively involved in her church, enjoys reading, and loves to travel. Over her many years of homeschooling, she has learned the importance of schooling to the individual learning style of each of her children, schooling year-round, and teaching multiple ages.