A couple of years ago we decided to switch things up around here and instead of doing the traditional school year from September to May/Early June, we tried the year-round approach. Here are the top five reasons why we are absolutely loving it and haven't looked back since.
1. Greater Retention
This was a particularly important motivation for one of our children who has learning differences. After homeschooling for a couple of years it became apparent that we were losing significant traction (which we had battled so hard for during the school year) over the long summer break. Just doing a worksheet here or there was not enough to compensate for this memory loss. That loss significantly decreased the year we switched from the traditional schedule to a year round one, and she has seen great improvement. When you work so hard for a gain, you really don't want to lose it. And this benefit applies to all children, not just those with differing needs.
2. Less Time Spent on Review
This is in-tandem to #1 - obviously we don't have to spend so much time catching up on the things we've forgotten over the summer if we didn't forget them. This makes the beginning of our year flow easily and at a quicker pace. We don't have to spend the first couple of months re-learning what the break diminished for us. Our entire year has become more productive as a byproduct of greater retention! And for our kids without learning differences, this has been a launching pad for working above grade level.
3. Lighter Work Load Year Round
You know how you look forward to a three day weekend? Well imagine that you could have that option throughout the year. Going year round means that we don't have to push quite as hard from day to day. That extra time allows our children the ability to manage that lighter load for the week in order to take a three day weekend if they choose. I have one child who takes one almost every week. She manages her work well and focuses intently in order to get that reward. There is another child of ours who doesn't have as easy of a time with that, but Fridays still end up begin very light. And for me - I am only working on a Friday if there is one who really struggled with a new concept that week. Most Fridays, I am off.
Now, imagine what a lighter load could offer in the way of time for extracurricular activities? Having a lighter load also translates into children being able to pursue their own personal gifted-ness in a way that the traditional schedule does not always give enough space for. Picture being able to do piano lessons, volleyball and a baking class and still having time in the evenings for family togetherness without rushing around to squeeze everything in? We don't need to trade in our family time for those things.
4. More dispersed breaks gives us freedom to travel and see/do things we might not otherwise.
The lighter daily load also translates into being able to take days off throughout the year for a trip or family vacation. Or if we chose to take our work with us, it is not at cumbersome as the typical work load would be (#3). Bottom line - we travel well, and so does our work. This translates to off season pricing and crowds for trips that otherwise would be nearly impossible for us. (See our Disney Tips and Tricks post! :)
In addition, we are able to take the entire month of December off. It's a wonderful mid-school year breather, and it gives us time to be intentional about enjoying the season and making memories together. We also take the full month of June off, so there is balance on the other side of the year.
5. The ability to break subjects into semesters.
There are some subjects that go all year for us. We do not take a semester break from Math, for example. But we do make the year a bit more variable and interesting by having some subjects that will only last for a few months - like Geography. Every year we do a Geography book together, but we only work on it from January to April. I think it would be tortuous to have the same exact schedule for a whole year, so having semesters that change revitalizes us at multiple points throughout our year.
Have you ever thought about homeschooling year-round? Do you have more questions about what that looks like for us? I'd love to hear, and to include those answers in future posts.
[As I have noted on You Tube and will reiterate in this homeschool section of my website: This is what works for our family. It doesn't mean it's what's best for every family, but I still love to share what someone else might find helpful or encouraging. To see the You tube version of this post click the image below.]
Till next time!