Well, our school year has basically wound to a close. My girls will be continuing to work on math this summer, but we’ve been done with most of our other subjects for a long time. Whether you school year round or take a break at any time during the year, it’s important to build this down time into your schedule. The teacher (you!) needs a break and the kids need the break. By allowing their brains to rest, you allow them to come back refreshed. There are two schools of thought on whether these breaks should be shorter or longer. Personally, I find that shorter breaks help my kids retain more information, but longer breaks help them enjoy their childhood. It quickly becomes a trade-off.
The first year we homeschooled, we (I) decided to do year-round homeschooling. We were on a schedule where we had a week break here and there and a longer break at Christmas, but other than that we homeschooled. I became exhausted. The kids became exhausted and we were all grumpy and hard to get along with.
After that crazy little experiment, I decided that year-round schooling was not for our family. Besides, it really cramped our summer traditions of long lazy days at the pool and road trips on the spur of the moment. I want my children to look back on their childhood and remember those fun summer days of laughter and sunshine. I don’t want their memories to be of gazing out the window and WISHING they could be in the pool, but Mom made them do fractions. So, the second year we chose to do a more traditional type of schoolyear with a two month break in the summer. The exception was that we took our holidays on non-holidays, so we could go places and still avoid the crowds. This set-up seems to work better for us and it is what we’ve stayed with.
My oldest daughter is going to the local high school next year, so my homeschool days with her are coming to an end. As I look back at the past three years, I realize we’ve finally found our homeschooling groove. I no longer stress as much over whether my kids are learning, because I know they are. I no longer worry if one daughter gets behind in a subject, because I’ve learned from experience that they can catch up the minute they set their mind to it. My oldest daughter was at a fourth grade level in math (maybe) when she was in 7th grade. Within a year and a half, she has completely caught up and is ready for high school Algebra. Better yet, she actually understands the math. When I think about all the hours and hours spent trying to drill facts into her head and worrying over her future, I have to laugh and know that God truly does work these things out. My daughter just needed more time and the right math curriculum (MathUSee in her case). Not only does she now understand it, but I expect her to excel in high school math, something I never would have thought possible a few years ago.
So, as this school year winds to a close, ask yourself if you’re allowing time for memories or just memorization.