Many homeschooling families have their kids hard at work during the summer months while their public- and private-school counterparts are on vacation.
But year-round homeschooled students can take several shorter breaks spaced throughout the year. Breaks can be planned to fit into holiday observances, special family events, a parent's work schedule, or the culmination of a special hobby or extracurricular activity for the student, such as a piano recital or a debate competition.
Families who homeschool to enjoy a more flexible lifestyle are often the most vocal proponents of year-round schooling. As with any method of instruction, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a calendar that does not include the traditional three-month summer vacation.
No Review: With year-round learning, there's less need for a time-consuming review come fall, which students and parents alike often see as frustrating after a long break.
More Confidence: A child who just memorized her multiplication facts three weeks ago is in a better position to recall them than a child who has let them slip for an entire summer. Likewise, a child who learned to write a book report last month will approach a blank page with more confidence and less anxiety than a child who completed her first report several months ago. Kids who are homeschooled year-round keep their skills well-honed and are more likely to accelerate in their programs.
More Comfortable: For families who live in warmer climates, the decision to homeschool year-round is simply more practical. For these kids, there's no such thing as "playing outside" when temperatures soar, so working in the comfort of air-conditioning makes more sense. These kids can take advantage of the great outdoors later, in the fall or winter.
Less Burnout: Many year-round homeschool families report less burnout. With breaks more regularly spaced throughout the year, kids can go at their lessons full-tilt, knowing a two- or three-week vacation is never too far off.
More Freedom: Many families enjoy making the most of their vacations by taking an autumn or early spring holiday to beat the crowds. The chance to cruise through a children's museum or a historical site at reduced rates is especially appealing when the majority of kids are back in school, or on vacation.
Missing Out: The comments and opinions of other people account for the biggest and most consistent disadvantages reported by year-round homeschool parents. For most adults, memories of summer vacation take on idyllic proportions, and they may say that kids who are schooled year-round are missing out on part of their childhood.
More Questions: Of course, homeschool parents are used to people's curiosity and questions. In this case, instead of having to answer the usual questions about socialization, they may have to repeatedly -- and frequently --tout the rewards of a year-round schedule.
Out of Synch: Another drawback may be that the year-round schedule doesn't mesh with other children in the family who are enrolled in public or private school, or a homeschooled child's friends and neighbors. It's difficult, if not impossible, to stick to a year-round program with the doorbell ringing all summer!
Whether geography, lifestyle, or a desire to accelerate your child's learning makes year-round homeschooling seem like a good option, you'll need to consider how it fits with your family's educational preferences. To the delight of many families, learning through the summer is a welcome alternative.