The question homeschoolers are asking each other at the beginning of summer is, “Do you homeschool year round?”
I usually have a tough time answering that question. If you ask me if I’ve intended to homeschool through the summer, the answer would be a resounding YES! Have I actually homeschooled during the summer? Hm. Sort of?
As I approach yet another summer with great intentions, I am convinced that continuing our schooling all year isn’t going to motivate my kids or me. So I won’t do it!
Homeschoolers who take a break in the summer months do it for a variety of reasons. Kids and moms need a break. It’s hard to focus when the beautiful weather beckons. Vacations and numerous activities can interrupt the flow of schooling. Neighborhood friends, cousins, and even some dads are off work in the summer. It can be beneficial to be on the same schedule as the schools for social and practical reasons.
But that’s not why I say you might not want to homeschool year round. You might not want to homeschool year round if you want to be a motivated homeschooler. One of the principles of motivation is that we only want to do things we know we can do. In order to know we can do something, there has to be a point at which we know the task is complete. That’s one reason housework is so demotivating: it never feels done! If we create a perpetual homeschool, your children are denied the opportunity to be successful in completing their learning. Their education can become a never-ending assembly line of work that will bore them (and you).
So how can you and your kids continue to learn every month of the year without losing the joy of it?
- Choose a last day of school and celebrate it. Have a special meal or treat. Consider giving out certificates or awards noting your child’s achievements. You might want to invite your spouse, extended family, or other homeschoolers to participate in your celebration.
- Rest. Have at least a week where you and your students can relax, recharge, and regroup for another session of learning. Don’t even think about “school.” You should consider resting after each unit of school (see below).
- Break the school year into units. Schools do this to maintain motivation and so should we. The four seasons work great for this, but you could have shorter units of time, too. In another post, I’ll share how to use units of time to increase your productivity significantly. By the way, this unit approach works for housework, too. If we have a list of chores to be done on a given day and we finish it, we are DONE with housework for the day and can move on to something else (even if there’s more to do).
- Change things up. This is the best strategy for maintaining motivation if you are learning every month. If you use a more formal approach to teaching, consider doing unit studies or unschooling during one of your school seasons. Avoid the trap of thinking you have to use a curriculum or approach all year. Use it for a season and then try something else.
- Spend a season doing the things you wish you had time for. The subjects you put off, the topics you want to explore, the classes you’d like the kids to take–use one season to do only these things. I think of the homeschooling mother of five I met who died while her children were still young. What did she wish she had made more time for? I bet it wasn’t math workbooks.
- Learn what you want to learn for a season. Make time to read, sew, scrapbook, take a class, get in shape. Tell your kids what you’re learning and share your passion for it. Involve them in what you’re doing and the division between me-time and teaching time will disappear. We can’t expect our kids to love learning if we don’t model it.
- Set achievable goals for each teaching season. My problem in the summer has been imagining I can get more done than is feasible. Give your kids (and yourself) a standard that you can reach with only a little stretching. If you’re goal-oriented all year, take a season to let go of the expectations. See what God has in store for you and your kids every day instead.
This summer, I am not going to homeschool. I am going to have fun learning with my kids. How about you?