Heart of Dakota Blog

Does everyone homeschool year-round?

Heart of Dakota - Dear Carrie - year round
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Dear Carrie

My question is, does everyone homeschool year-round?

I was homeschooled growing up, but now it’s my turn to homeschool my kids! I’m set on using Heart of Dakota, but what I’m not sure about is WHEN to homeschool. A lot of things are different than when my mom taught me. I have always planned to start in the fall like around Sept. and then go until May or June. Then, I thought I’d have my summers off to relax and have fun. I don’t know! I’m just a bit surprised that I have seen so many homeschool families schooling year-round and going through the summer.

Personally, I think my kids would need a break, so that they are fired up to start again in the fall. Plus, I NEED a break too. So, my question is, does everyone homeschool year-round? Or, do some homeschool families take the summers off? If I may ask, what do you do personally, and why?


“Confused About Year-Round Or Summers Off Homeschooling”

Dear “Confused About Year-Round Or Summers Off Homeschooling,”

There are many ways a homeschool “schedule” can run! This is such a blessing! Many families do love to homeschool year-round. We did try a year-round schedule when my youngest was in kindergarten and first grade, but it wasn’t for us. So, we now follow a somewhat more traditional school-year!  We do take our summers off.  I’ll try to explain why – here goes…

One, we really value our summer weather!

Here in South Dakota, our summer weather is fleeting! So, we “live” outside for June, July, and August. We do still save our family vacation for September or October and just take a week off then.

Two, Mike and I both function best on a schedule.

I am a person who functions best on a schedule, and so does Mike.  Once we get in a flow (with my boys especially), taking a week or two off every month really causes us to lose the flow of our schedule. Also, when I did school year round, my little guy was always asking whether we needed to do school today or not. He was confused when we were on and when we were off. Mike and I both like being on the same page, and we like our kids to be on that same page too!

Three, my sons love summer projects!

My boys love their summer projects. Their unstructured days let them really get into book-writing, building things, recording tapes or making long video productions, trying experiments, and so on. They come up with their best ideas with long days of freedom. Often during the year, I’ll point out things that will be good summer projects. Many of them keep a list of these ideas, and when summer arrives… they’re set!

Four, convention season is a busy time for our family!

I am often going to conventions in May and June, so it helps to be done with school earlier.

Five, summer is a wonderful time for me to write!

I love to have the summer to really focus on projects (just like my sons, I guess). I am usually pushing hard to finish writing projects, so the time off from teaching coincides great with that for me!

Six, I’m an organizer and a planner at heart!

I am an organizer and a planner by nature, and having a more traditional school year makes it easier for me to tell where my kids should be academics-wise.

Though we take our summers off, we don’t really follow the public school calendar.

We do not follow the public school calendar, so we have school every day Monday through Friday. We do take off a week at Christmas, an extra day at Easter/Thanksgiving, and several days off when family visits from far away. Otherwise, every week day is a school-day here. My kiddos never ask whether we’re having school today. (Otherwise, I’d find it too easy to say, “No, we’re having a day off!”)

This kind of homeschooling just works for our family! Partially because of where we live, partially because of the lifestyle we lead, and partially because of the way we like our year to go! There is no one right way to choose the days you homeschool, but there is probably one way that is more right for you! You may have to try it a couple of different ways to find what really fits your family. Give your best idea a try, and if it isn’t a fit, adjust it for the next homeschool year. You’ll soon discover what fits your own family best.



P.S.  Check out this post on our board about families who enjoy year-round schooling and families who enjoy summers off – click here!  For further discussion, click here!  And for even more discussion, click here!  And, here!  This is a well-discussed topic by the wise ladies on our board!

P.S.S.  Looking for ideas for daily schedules/routines for homeschooling?  Check out our “Let’s Share Our Schedules” thread which has over 10,000 views by clicking here!

P.S.S.S.  For the benefits of taking time off from teaching, click here!


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Becky

    I would just like to add that weather dictates our homeschool year too. We live in Florida, so the summers are hot and miserable and we hibernate in air conditioning 🙂 Also, our annual homeschool conference is in May. I come home from the conference all fired up and we hit school hard June, July & August (when we don’t want to be outside anyway). Then we take a week off and head into September, October & November. This way I also feel a bit ahead of the game so when “life happens” (hurricanes, flu, family in hospital etc.) I’m not nearly as stressed about “keeping up”. We take a week at Thanksgiving. We take a month off over Christmas/New Year. Then our beautiful weather starts. We take at least 2 “Spring Breaks”. We may slow down to 1/2 speed so we can enjoy the outdoors. Take our nature walks ect. So it feels like we are slowing down and cruising into the end of our school year around April/May. During the actual summer there are 2 weeks off for church camps / VBS and our family vacation – get out of the heat! It is flexible and we all enjoy breaks throughout the year.

    1. This makes total sense, Becky! Many homeschool families I help on the phone from Florida or Arizona do the same type of schedule you do. One of the many blessings of homeschooling is we can determine when it is best to homeschool, and when the weather outside is not as nice, it is a super time to stay indoors and homeschool. Whether it’s extreme heat or extreme cold, whenever staying indoors is better, homeschooling is a wonderful thing to do with that time! Thanks for sharing!

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