[Today’s post “Pros and Cons of Homeschooling in the Summer” was written by contributor Michelle Habrych.]
Ah, summer: flip flops, pool, vacation, math …. One of these things is not like the other. Many families, like mine, continue homeschooling in the summer. What are the pros and cons of homeschooling through the summer? Let’s take a look.
Co-op and Other Classes During the School-Year
My teenagers are very involved in a homeschool co-op. During the school year (August-May), the classes there require a lot of homework, even if the class only meets for an hour or ninety minutes a week. Add a few classes together, combine with extra-curricular activities and a job, and there’s just not enough time to get everything finished without missing out on lots of sleep! When we plan for the classes they are going to take, we also discuss the possibility of working on homeschooling through the summer to get to the other work they need to get done. They’re not always happy about it, but my son, who is now beginning his senior year, has embraced it. He told me he enjoys learning something new in the summer.
Time for Fun During the School-Year
Homeschooling in the summer allows us time to explore fun as it comes up during the school year. My daughter enjoys sports through our homeschool athletics group. The resulting time spent doing that means she has to work in the summer when sports aren’t in season. Youth group and AWANA also are priorities in our family. While I ensure they finish their homework for classes during the school year before attending the weekly meeting, other studies can be put on the backburner for the less-busy summer months.
Summer reading can help your student to prepare for fall classes or continue current learning. My son is doing a lot of reading for the science course he is finishing this year. There’s a lot less pressure to just get it done, and he told me today he’s really enjoying the current book he’s reading (Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks).
Get a Head-Start on the Next School-Year
For my daughter, I am teaching an American Literature class this fall at homeschool co-op, and we have a long reading list. The first time I taught it two years ago for my son, we made the mistake of not getting the reading done before the class begun. This resulted in a lot of speed reading during the school year, as the curriculum often required a novel a week! My daughter and I have already begun the reading and have a plan to get through most of it before classes begin in mid-August.
Losing Skills Over the Summer
We’ve all seen how skills are “lost” over the summer when they’re not used, especially with math. Keep skills and even build on them by continuing homeschooling during summer months. You can do fun practice, such as games or online programs (see my post on math games here). You could try a different curriculum or a workbook that looks at the materials in a new way. Right now, one of my teens is refreshing her skills and we’re doing a combination of workbook pages, IXL practice, and a new curriculum to take a break from the algebra book that has been frustrating us throughout the school year.
Keep the Routine
There is something to be said about the importance of keeping a routine. It’s much more difficult to work out after taking off two months than it is if you keep at every week. We all have seen this with skills, but have you considered how it affects the routine too? One of my teens works much more slowly than I consider necessary, but routine helps this teen. Getting up, starting schoolwork, even during the summer, has helped. A lighter workload during the summer months allows us to take off for fun at Six Flags or an afternoon movie, while still keeping the routine of doing schoolwork.
Feel a Sense of Accomplishment
My son said homeschooling through the summer has also given him a feeling of accomplishment. I had not considered this. He said rather than waste summer days, he feels he is getting something done before he has his free time (computer games). All of this plus working a part-time job at Six Flags—I am proud of the way he is balancing these life skills!
The Cons of Homeschooling in the Summer
There are obvious cons of homeschooling during the summer: not having a “summer break,” having to “do school” when it feels like everyone else is on break, and more papers to grade and lesson planning for mom. How do we keep it feeling like summer and still homeschool?
How to Make Homeschooling in the Summer Work
We have relaxed start/end times. We’re flexible with what gets done and when. We allow for days off for fun. We go on vacation and leave schoolwork at home. My teens have friends who are also doing schoolwork. They say they know they’re not alone, which is “pretty nice,” according to my son. Since my kids have never been in a regular school, this isn’t as much of a big deal to them. We’ve always been flexible homeschoolers, taking breaks during the year and working as needed in summer months.
Often it’s mom who needs the summer break. I teach many high school classes at our co-op, and I know I need a break from the lesson planning and grading. This year I took off some time after the finals were graded. Then we took a family vacation. Now I’m back, refreshed and ready to go. I’ve already started some planning for a fall class, planned out assignments for my kids for the next few weeks, and graded some math. Since it’s more relaxed, I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Take a break if you need one, moms, but you too will find the routine helpful.
This summer I look forward to sleeping in, taking days off to go to the waterpark, and still working my part-time job. We have another vacation planned, during which I will avoid all homeschool-related things so I may return refreshed and prepared to begin the co-op school year.
Taking off for summer is not required! It’s just the norm in our culture. Remember the reasons you homeschool. Including summer might help you accomplish your goals. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my reading of The Scarlet Letter.
From Gena ~ Learn Hebrew this Summer!
I just found out about a great course that your kids can do this summer. Do a Hebrew Summer Intensive, only 4 weeks long.
The 4-Week Hebrew for Homeschoolers Summer Intensive covers everything that the 10-Week course covers, but in less time, preparing students to jump in right on Hebrew for Homeschoolers Beginners Level 2 next. Or, just use it as a great way to add some extra learning for this summer!
- Free Summer Schooling ideas
- Great Summer Reads for Teens
- Excellent Summer Reads for Moms
- Summer Media Guidelines for a Smooth Summer (with free printable)
- Free or Cheap Things to do With Kids in the Summer
[Guest poster Michelle Habrych is a veteran homeschool mom of 2 teens.]