For years, I didn’t take summers off from homeschooling my kids. But in recent years I’ve changed my tune. Why I take a summer break from homeschooling and what changed my mind…
I used to think it was silly to change my homeschooling routine based on the public school calendar. I wanted my kids to understand that learning never stops. How was I going to teach them to be “life-long learners” if we didn’t have formal learning for 3 months out of the year? And what about “summer slide” – when children forget things they learned in the last school year and have to spend weeks re-learning them once school begins?
Why I Take a Summer Break From Homeschooling
Things changed several years ago when I got remarried. My stepdaughter, who was living with us at the time, was in public school. So, I decided to let my homeschooled children have summers off. I knew there would be mutiny otherwise! Or at the very least, it would be difficult for them to concentrate on schoolwork while their stepsister got to hang out (and boring for her as well).
I quickly realized that taking a summer break from homeschooling has many benefits for me and my family, and I now look forward to it with relish. Among them:
The kids have more time to dig deeply into their hobbies and personal interests
“Can we build a fort in the living room?”
I’m much more likely to let them begin projects, crafts or other activities that will require making huge messes and take hours to complete. I simply don’t have the energy or time for that during school.
I’m sure that in the next few months, Caleb will make major progress on his guitar and woodworking, Julien on his bike, PVC moped and other building projects, Ilana on her crafting and reading, and Sadie on her French and gardening, among other things.
I have time to plan, think, and strategize deeply for the next school year
I like to take plenty of time to do this, without the stress of feeling that I have to change something now (as I would if I did my planning during the school year).
More time for socializing
Some of my children’s friends are in public school, and it’s harder to see them during the school year. Most of their homeschooled buddies also take summers off, so there is more time to hang out with them as well. (Homeschooling socialization. It happens!)
More time and energy for extra curricular activities
During the school year, my kids don’t take extracurricular lessons. But during the summer they’ve enjoyed music lessons, pottery, dance, gymnastics and the like.
Time to flâneur
There isn’t a neat way to translate this French word. It means to stroll, loaf, waste time, lounge, saunter, see what turns up. Afternoons at the pool. Long siestas in the afternoon. Free kid movies when it’s too hot to be outside.
Every day feels like a mini adventure
With a loose routine, we can decide what we feel like doing. There is more room for spontaneity. Last minute picnic at the park? Trip to Grandma’s? IKEA for lunch? Bike ride to the library? Yes, please.
Kids can get lost in a book
Sometimes I find my daughter deep in a book when it’s time to “do school”. During summer, she can spend hours lost in historical fiction (her favorite genre) or the novel du jour. Days are spent reading stacks and stacks of library books.
Taking a Summer Vacation Gives ME a Break
Last but certainly not least, taking a summer break gives ME, the teacher, a much-needed respite. I’m able to pursue personal goals with more energy. And this is crucial to my mental well-being!
Taking a summer break means I’m able to shift back into just being mom (instead of teacher + mom), and that’s no small thing.
What about “Summer Slide”?
And finally, a word about summer regression. It’s not really a thing. Well, it may be a thing for kids who hate school and who want to run from anything that looks like book learnin’. Just sayin’.
I do have the kids do a little math during the summer, but other than that, I’m always surprised at how much they learn when it appears they’re not doing anything “educational”.
Suddenly, math concepts that younger kids were having difficulty grasping just gel. They make connections between seemingly unrelated disciplines. (The brain does this when you learn new things.) So a child who spends hours a day working on making homemade slime will suddenly “get” her times tables.
Because we don’t fill the time with screens, the kids are still learning constantly. (I do find it helpful to have a flexible routine during summer, otherwise the kids will start to get on my nerves.)
Are you a homeschooler who takes summer breaks? What are your favorite perks?