Once you decide to homeschool your child other decisions come into play. Besides the legalities servicing your area, curriculum, testing, extracurricular activities, and group settings, there is another choice to be made. Do you follow the traditional school year or do you take the opportunity to do school year round?
You can homeschool year round if it is allowed by your state. Most states require you to register as a homeschooler and have laws in place that the student must be in school a certain number of days and hours. The states’ average homeschool year requirement is 180 days, and excluding kindergarten, the hours a student is to be in school varies between 740 – 900 hours, which the state judges to be best for learning. Setting up a homeschool year round is an opportunity some parents take because it is more convenient to the family to have shorter school days.
How do I find out if I can do a homeschool year round?
Check with your state to find out what is mandated and then adjust your school schedule to accommodate what is required. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great resource to find your state’s homeschooling requirements. There are as many ways to meet these requirements as there are homeschoolers.
What are some ways I can set up a year round school schedule?
There are many ways to set up a schedule that works year round. Some prefer a more leisurely approach and spread the learning out more. Still others will arrange the week according to their own activities and work around an already set schedule. Whichever way you choose, take into account how your child learns, so that you can give optimum time for curriculum, and allow time for other activities the child and your family enjoys.
What are some of the benefits of a year round schedule?
There are many benefits to year round homeschooling. From the leisure of a flexible schedule to the extra time spent with family, many homeschooling families find that homeschooling year round makes life less stressful and that their child actually absorbs the curriculum better than a more traditional year. Let’s look at some of the benefits of year round schooling:
Slower pace during the day
Some parents and their children prefer the slower pace of a year round schedule. They want to spend only a few hours doing school work each day, and then spend the rest of the day doing things they want to do. There are many reasons to only have a half day or less of learning.
- If you or your child works better in short increments a few hours are ideal. Some children who have shorter attention spans benefit from not having to focus for long periods of time. Later, as they get into the routine, their attention span may broaden to a fuller schedule.
- Another benefit is the advantage of better learning. Rather than gulping down information as fast as they can, simply to spit it out at test-time and then forget it, they can study at leisure and absorb more.
A year round schedule means you can spend more time exploring a subject that sparks a particular interest, which often leads to other pursuits that encompass the new knowledge.
Schooling While Traveling
The opportunity to travel used to be reserved for summer when children got out of public school. But in today’s world, many parents are digital nomads or work in specific fields that require a lot of travel. Schooling year round makes travel possible outside of the summer months.
Visiting different places with your children opens up opportunities to learn more about the world around them. There are national parks, historical places and events, museums, art galleries, and fun tourist traps all around the USA and other parts of the world. History, geography, writing, and even math can be incorporated into the learning experience. Seeing new places in person brings more appreciation and willingness to learn as they experience the full effect of what most children only read about.
Many parents now travel in RVs and bus conversions, taking their children wherever they go. There are a few forums online specifically geared for the mobile group, called travel homeschoolers or road homeschoolers. They share not only their travels, but the specific obstacles they face and how to overcome them.
World schoolers are another kind of traveler. They take their children homeschooling around the world, learning about different cultures, languages, cuisine, and history. They often have abbreviated schooling days and use year round schooling to fulfill their state’s requirements (where applicable) so they can soak up the atmosphere of wherever they are.
Schooling year round, and spending fewer hours per day on curriculum, leaves ample time to supplement book learning with real world experiences.
A shortened school day can give more time to spend together as a family.
- Playing board games, watching movies, doing sports, going to events, and any family outing can be done at times when traditional schools are in session while some learning is moved to the summer.
- Enriching your child’s time spent together gives them the security of knowing they are important to you, that they are loved, and that you like to spend time with them. All of those concepts aid to boost the self-esteem that is essential for a well-rounded child.
- Teachers and parents talk about quality time with their children but many do not have the time in a busy schedule to achieve it. Year round homeschooling gives families the means to intermingle school time with quality family time.
- Homeschoolers can also pursue individual interests with a parent or other family member nearby to guide and answer questions.
By stretching out the time spent schooling and setting aside that family time, not only do the children get quality time with their parent, they get a quantity of time they’d not have in a traditional setting.
The flexibility of a part time school day has multiple benefits, from individualized attention to changing the length of the day based on current events.
Children learn in different ways and at different times during the day. Your early riser child might work best in the morning and enjoy being able to play in the afternoon. Your night owl child might like sleeping in and might handle the curriculum best in the afternoon.
Per-sibling flexibility can create one-on-one attention for each child, which is beneficial as they learn and can ask questions without the distraction of a sibling. While it may make the daily schedule longer for the parent, the whole point of homeschooling is to bring a quality education to your child. You can incorporate your ethics, morals, values, and religion into this time frame with your child, something that public school cannot offer.
A shorter day can be expanded to a full day if there is a particular event in the future that you and your child might want to attend on what would normally be a school day. If there is a longer event, such as a week-long camp, historical re-enactment, festival, secular or religious holiday, or any other situation that takes one away from your set schedule, you can add an hour or two each day to the homeschool schedule to make up for the lost time. This can be done before the event or after because again, the timing is flexible.
Less stress, more comprehension
Over the long summer break, children tend to forget a little of the learned curriculum. This makes it necessary to do some review when the new year begins. Summer break also means a period of adjustment in getting back into a learning mode. Year round schooling eliminates both these issues.
- Parents don’t have to contend with their kids falling behind. Since learning is on a steady, year-round schedule, lessons stay fresh in your child’s mind. Not only does this mean that your son or daughter comprehends better, it also means that as they progresses through the different grade levels, the need to review the previous year’s material is eliminated.
- Going back to school and getting back into the groove of learning after a long break means a time of adjustment that usually takes the first few weeks of school. Year round homeschooling eliminates that often stressful and unproductive period because year-round schooling families are always homeschooling. No need to switch gears from “summer” to “school” mode.
If you choose to homeschool year round, keep in mind that the child comes first, and that your schedule will naturally fall into place as both you and your son or daughter learn the new routine. Be flexible most of all, so that you and your child can enjoy the experience. To homeschool year round opens up a lot of ways to have fun while you…and your child…are learning.