To school or not to school? That’s the question for many homeschoolers as summer approaches. Today I’m sharing why we don’t take a summer break in our homeschool and what we do to change things up and enjoy this season of homeschooling each year.
*Post contains some referral links; see disclosure to learn more.*
Before I jump into why we don’t take a summer homeschool break, it’s important to note that your family’s needs may be different from my family’s needs. So, while I’m sharing what works for us year after year, you may need to tweak things to work for you or take that summer break if you need to do so.
Why We Don’t Take a Summer Break from Homeschooling
1. We’re year-round homeschoolers.
I’ve shared before that we’re usually done homeschooling by noon each day. That allows me to execute our homeschool plan in a way that keeps my kids on track with our educational goals, but also allows me time to work and gives them plenty of free time.
In order to spend half of each day homeschooling, we need to homeschool through the summers and skip that summer breaks. Does that mean we never take time off? Nope, but it does mean that we typically take only a week or two off when we travel in other seasons.
All that to say, none of this could come together — the half days, the travel time, or working from home — without skipping that three-month summer break.
2. My kids need structure.
Because school has always been a yearlong process for my kids, my kids are used to having the structure that comes through our normal homeschool routine. In fact, they’re so used to that structure that they don’t do well with too much free time.
They usually ask to get back to homeschooling if we take more than three or four days off. And more than a week off? Unless we’re traveling, they seriously struggle with that kind of disruption. In other words, if we’re home, we’re homeschooling. That’s true regardless of the season because it works better for us.
3. There’s no summer slide.
One cool thing about not taking a summer homeschool break is that we don’t risk the summer slide the way that happens in traditionally-scheduled schools. That means we’ve not had to deal with learning loss, reacclimating to school schedules, or any of the issues that come when skills aren’t strengthened or used at all for long periods of time.
What We Do in Lieu of Summer Break
Now that you know why we don’t take a summer break, here’s what we do to keep homeschooling through the summer without getting bored or burned out because of our routine.
1. Lighten it up.
First of all, we lighten up our homeschool plans and focus on doing a couple of core subjects each day. If that means my youngest only covers math and language arts one day, so be it. If that means my oldest only does a math lesson and a writing assignment, that’s fine too.
This lighter schedule means my kids have more free time for their personal learning pursuits, many of which end up blurring the lines between learning and playing. (My 9 year old’s love for Smart Circuits and KiwiCo projects come to mind as an example.)
2. Use the time for testing.
We also use summer months for standardized testing. We live in a state that requires this testing for homeschoolers and, while I know why it’s required, I don’t like disrupting our actual learning to assess what we’ve learned in the year.
With our lighter summer schedule, testing isn’t nearly as disruptive as it would be if we had to squeeze it into other months of the school year.
3. Travel the world.
One of our favorite things to do in summer is travel the world without leaving our home. Since we have more room in our homeschool plans, we can make this happen through a combination of reading, cooking, and creating.
To plan this, I grab my copy of Give Your Child the World and use it to select a few books to represent each continent. Then, we either grab some snacks that are found in the highlighted countries from local markets or cook meals that are enjoyed in those countries.
Lastly, we look for opportunities to experience the arts from those regions, whether through project kits, artist study, or by visiting museum exhibits virtually or in person.
4. We ease into our new year.
Finally, we use our summer homeschooling time to ease into the new year. Instead of having a cut and dry “back to school” day, we add one new subject each week starting the end of July. By the time September rolls around, my kids and I have eased into the new year without the stress that sometimes comes from a sudden change.
Looking for more help with summer learning? We’ve got you covered:
- Our Favorite No-Prep Summer Nature Study Ideas
- 8 Fun and Easy Summer Art Ideas for Kids
- Why Summer Is the Perfect Time to Learn a Foreign Language