Maybe We Can Do Both?
Guest Author: Deidra L. Tolliver
I know it sounds crazy, and I’ll bet you’re thinking like we did before we understood what “year round” consisted of. Are you thinking that you and your students will literally be schooling every week of every month, from January to December, with only Fall and Christmas Break in the first semester, followed by merely a Spring Break in the second semester?
Not quite how our year round school schedule works.
After grasping the true essence of year round schooling, all hesitation and skepticism disintegrated and our “AHA” moment was unveiled.
At first, I simply could not fathom the thought of us being in school everyday, almost 365 days of the year. I just couldn’t imagine doing full school work in the summer months. But as I was talking to one of my veteran home-school mom’s (shout out to Jennifer Smeltser with Homeschool Roster), she talked about how she does it; and instantly, a ton of bricks hit me about why WE SHOULD home-school year round.
Here’s how OUR schedule works, and I’ll share why/how it works best this way:
- Starting in August, we work 3 weeks ON and one week OFF, and repeat.
- We take one week off for Thanksgiving, and three weeks off for Christmas Season.
- Then in January, we return to 3 weeks ON, one week off until Spring Break in March/April.
- Around May we take 2 weeks off, then it’s one week on, one week off until August returns.
This year round schedule allows us to take a few days off for holidays and birthdays, if only to sleep in the day before and after… just because. It also allows more time for focusing on holiday arts and crafts since we LOVE Christmas season!
Here’s why this has worked well for us so far.
Creating customized curriculum each grade level is something I thoroughly enjoy. Something about the hunt for the right books, the smell of the bookstores and libraries (maybe not all libraries), and the studying and reading involved in writing daily lesson plans is one of those things I really look forward to. It is, however, a time-consuming, month-to-month, never ending, inevitable, required task. It requires hours of preparation and studying. Writing 4 to 6 weeks ahead, for 6 to 8 different subjects simultaneously can easily get overwhelming, especially if your planned schedule gets uprooted and postponed because life happens.
BUT, the moment I realized that during our week OFF, I could take my time writing lesson plans throughout the week versus squeezing it in on a holiday weekend, MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER! The moment I realized we no longer had to rush to squeeze in a wonderful curriculum into the typical 9-month school year, MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER! And, the moment I understood just how educationally customizable ANY field trip can be, and spread throughout the whole 365 days of the year, MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER! Thus, year round schooling was born into our homeschool arena!
So, the three main reasons we homes-school year round?
- RELAXABILITY – We take monthly breaks which alleviates monotony, rush to complete a curriculum, tiredness, or getting burned out from long stretches of studying.
- FLEXIBILITY – It allows for more field trips and learning experiences away from typical desk-learning throughout the year.
- PLANNABILITY – I can write lesson plans in a more reasonable, sensible, customizable time frame and at a better pace.
And…a bonus reason… number 4!
4. RETAINABILITY – Three consecutive summer months off seems to lose some of its fervor for studying and retaining info when it’s time to return in August
I know this model is not for some. I also know there are other reasons people home-school year round not mention here. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to customize your school to the needs of you and your family. I wish I had embraced homeschooling year round sooner! Some families have found that taking each Friday off works well for them. There are several ways to design a year round schedule; it’s all up to you!
I hope this gives you ideas on how you can alleviate some pressure in areas that maybe you didn’t know were customizable and relievable. At least take a gander if your interest is at all piqued. You just may find a new schedule that may change your life forever, too!
-Deidra L. Tolliver
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Deidra L. Tolliver is regular contributor for Homeschooling in Memphis blog. Before graduating summa cum laude from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree concentrating in Graphic Design, Deidra studied, tutored, and taught art lessons at her church, high school, and college. Since college, she has served as graphic artist at local firms, retired in 2005 to become a homeschool educator, met many homeschool supporters who encouraged her to share her passion for art & education with others, and now works on her family’s blog, “ArtEase” in which she and her family share many ideas on how to incorporate both art and education into just about any item, project, subject, or activity.