Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Great Debate

A common debate between home educators is the year round school versus the traditional school calendar. I have struggled with this for the past few years, and I will admit I have changed my mind on the topic a few times. First thing I do whenever I have to make a decision is create a pro and con list. Here is mine:

For our family, for this season of our life, we are schooling year round. My husband works four days a week for ten hours, so we decided to go with his schedule and only school four days a week. On the fifth day of the week we will do field trips, co-op days, and family fun.

The first planning I did was schedule my quarters. Each of my quarters is ten weeks long, with a field trip or co-op planned for every other week. This makes each quarter at least 45 days long. Next, I scheduled in when we are taking breaks: Christmas, Easter, Columbus Weekend, birthdays, vacations, etc. Then I spread out the weeks so that we are starting mid-July and ending the end of May/beginning of June. The longest break is in between years from June until we start again mid-July.

June is set aside for sick days and we usually finish up around the same time public school does. Having only a 4-5 week break means there is just enough time to plan, reorganize, relax, and be rejuvenated in time to start up again. I also tend to schedule lighter weeks in the summer. Sometimes we will only do two or three days a week in July and slowly ramp up in August to make it easier to transition. I also schedule a lot of field trips in the summer because there are more opportunities. We go to zoos, battlefields, landmarks, etc. while the weather is warm and we can enjoy the outdoors.

The months of January and February are the worst months to try to homeschool in my family. The kids are sick of winter by that point and cabin fever takes hold. There are some days my kids more closely resemble trolls than the beautiful babies they are supposed to be. It is in these months I lighten the load and judiciously institute mental health days for the safety of all the family members. I try to get out of the house and do field trips to indoor places with the kids. As soon as the weather gets warmer we take our school outside and do it on the front porch or under our tree in the front yard. It is these small changes that keep school from becoming dull for us.

What do you do? Are you a traditional calendar educator or a year round educator? What do you like about it?

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