Sunday, June 29, 2014

7 Reasons Why I Decided to Try Year-Round Schooling

All my years in the public school system as a student and then as a teacher have always influenced the way I look at our school schedule. You can't do something for 20+ years without creating certain habits.   We've been home schooling officially since 2005 with a schedule similar to the public school system.  We have not always lined up with the local school systems start dates, but have managed to have a VERY LONG summer every year.  I usually compensate for our long summer by having my kids do just a bit of school work.  We take very limited breaks during the school year, but schedule days for projects, field trips, game days and other unstructured (aka limited textbook) learning.   

Going into our TENTH year of home schooling, I decided to mix things up a bit.  Sometimes you just need a change. 

So, we are starting school TOMORROW.  Yes, we are starting school before July.  Some people who are reading this are freaking out and thinking how horrible.  What torture for her kids?  Actually, my kids are very excited.  Two of them have pulled out school books TODAY in anticipation of their first day.  

Here are 7 reasons why I decided to try year-round schooling:

1.  It's really not that big of a deal or THAT different

I used to think year-round schooling was quite revolutionary.   When I started to investigate how that would work for us,  I realized it's not so different that our lives are going to experience an upheaval.  It's just a unique way to go about planning our school year.  If we do not like it for some reason, we can always just adjust our schedule back next year. 

2. The endless summer

I'm so burned out by the end of April that I cannot wait until the summer.  We would get our 180 days in as soon as possible and then have an almost 12 week summer.  It was becoming an endless summer.  Even though we had a long break, I never used that time to rejuvenate to the point that I felt good about the summer.  I am productive,  but also fall back into habits, like staying up too late, that are horrible to get out at the start of the school year.  

3.  More breaks, instead of one long break

We are doing 9 weeks of school-1 week off.  Christmas break will be 3-4 weeks and we'll have a 6 week summer.  We will be doing some shorter weeks at the beginning of the school year, because of holidays and summer fun. 

4. School and summer fun--Why not both?

One argument I've always made AGAINST year round schooling (aka short summers) was that I liked to relax during the summer.  By the time, we were done with our almost 12 week summer, I was on the verge of apathy.  Too much free time can be counter-productive.  My family has more fun when we have structure in our lives.  (See my thoughts on Summer Structure)

We are also early birds, so our school is usually finished by lunch. We have plenty of time for summer fun with friends and family. 

5.  Smaller planning units

When you've been home schooling for several years, it can be natural to start feeling some burn out.  I'm excited about planning for nine weeks, then taking a break.  If things aren't working, we can change things up after the nine-week time period.  It's easier to keep things organized.  

6.  Better retention and excitement about learning

Students can experience burnout just like teachers/parents.  My hope is that with this new schedule my students will be able to stay excited about school throughout the year without that semester-end slump.  I'm hoping that our math and writing skills will be improved with less time in between instruction. 

7. I'm learning to let go...

I will be the first to admit that I am a perfectionist.  In the past, I've overhauled my house in the summer, had in-depth plans in place, and things ready to go for the first day of school.  It's taken ten years, but I'm realizing that it's okay just to go with the flow a bit more.  I have our curriculum (well, most of it), the first week of school planned and our schedule mapped out.  I'm going to tidy up the dining room before bed and just go with it.  There is a feeling of freedom in that.  Things do not have to be perfect for you to start school.  

All the pencils don't have to be new!   
The house doesn't have to be spotless!
Go with what you have and build from there!  
Don't be afraid to try something new!

I have always loved learning new things.  I'm excited to see what new things our new schedule will open up for us this year.   

hip homeschool hop


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