I know a lot of you are reevaluating your education choices this year. Public school may be drastically different than what any of us have known. The online version of public school might seem disconnected or even just unpalatable since our most time consuming parental past time seems to be dragging the kids away from screens. Private schools are facing many of the same choices as public school.
There are other issues with those choices, but I am desperately trying to keep this from becoming a political post. Please help me out with that.
Suddenly, a lot of you are considering homeschool for the first time. If you have started looking beyond public school online, you might be beginning to realize that none of us homeschoolers seem to be doing the same thing. You’re coming across all kinds of different curriculum, social constructs, and educational philosophies.
At the risk of completely blowing your mind, I would like to give you one more thing to consider.
Year Round Education.
Wait, wait, wait. Hear me out. Year-round education is actually a great thing.
1. It allows you to schedule school around life instead of life around school.
I like this one for a couple reasons, and most of them are points of their own, but let’s consider the future implications of this for a minute.
Most of us have Monday through Friday jobs that take up a large portion of each day. We long for the weekend, for vacations, for the type of lifestyle where we can do what we want, when we want…where we can call the shots.
What if we showed our kids right the get go that that type of life is attainable? What if we shaped their education to reflect that life? That living was the priority…not something left over after being stuck behind a desk for forty hours a week.
2. It allows education to become an integral part of every day LIFE instead of something you just have to get through before you can actually start your real life.
Did you ever think that? I just have to make it through (insert grade or school) and then I can (insert goal).
I look back on that attitude just like I look back on naps. What was I thinking?
3. It allows you to slow down. How often do you catch yourself saying, “When things slow down… When we’re not so busy…” It’s madness to think that our schedules are ever going to spontaneously slow down if we don’t make drastic changes toward that end.
Removing the scheduling constraints of public education blows your schedule wide open.
It allows you to take a day off when you need it. Or when the kids need it. Mental health days are super important and can’t always be planned a year in advance.
It gives you the opportunity to take sick days without feeling rushed or behind. How about birthdays? Let your kid have the whole day off to focus on something they’re passionate about.
4. It allows time to focus on passions. Oh yeah. So think about yourself for a minute. What happens when you finally get your hands on something you’ve been dreaming about? Better yet, how do you dream about it? You watch all the videos. You read all the blogs and books. You learn everything you can about it, right?
Kids are the same way.
And by having that open, full year calendar, you give your kids the space they need to pursue those passions that they’re excited about. Maybe it’s dinosaurs or poetry or space or…math. Maybe they’re becoming the next expert in their obscure field. They just need the time to pursue it.
5. It removes so much stress from having to get things done within some arbitrary time period.
I’m not saying deadlines or goals are bad. I’m only saying that maybe (definitely) they shouldn’t be the driving force or focus of every single lesson.
Kids are naturally curious…until we teach them not to be. It might take a little bit for your kids to readjust and rediscover that curiousity, but I guarantee it is worth giving them the time and space to do so. Once they realize that they can learn what they want at their pace, you’ll be fighting to keep up with them.
6. It lets kids learn at their pace without the stigma of being behind. Or ahead. Because let’s face it, kids are brutal when it comes to anyone outside of their middle ground.
Or at least that’s what I remember from school. My own kids will tell you that they haven’t experienced much of that in the homeschooling community. Probably because we’re all too busy doing our own thing to have a middle ground.
In practical terms, it just means that kids are never made to feel that they are taking too long to learn something because they are precisely where they need to be in that subject at that time.
That might mean that they finish their math level in six months. Or that they take all twelve to complete language arts. Without an arbitrary start and stop date, they just start the next course for each subject when they finish.
7. It makes it easier to envision the long game.
Struggling with reading? No worries, you don’t have until summer to get those phonics figured out. You’ve got twelve years. Thirteen if you’re starting with kindergarten. Can’t figure out fractions? It’s okay. You’ve got at least another eight years. Plenty of time for both student and parent to figure it out without feeling like a failure.
Once you get to this level of freedom in your homeschool, something magical happens.
School for the sake of doing school becomes less of the focus and lifelong learning really embeds itself into your kid’s lifestyle choices.
8. Suddenly everything becomes a learning experience.
I’m not just talking about baking cookies or cutting pizza to introduce fractions.
Although that totally counts.
I’m talking about walks through town, field trips to the lake, vacations to big cities or National Parks. And not only does everything become a learning experience…
9. Everywhere becomes a classroom.
Sentence diagramming from a hammock in the mountains on a sunny summer morning?
Visiting forts and battlefields when they aren’t crowded with everyone else trying to squeeze in on a weekend?
Painting a mountain while standing in a crystal clear lake?
Meeting with friends for a hike, a lunch, a poetry reading, and an animal track investigation?
Snuggling into a puppy pile to read your favorite book with your kids?
Oh yeah. Those are ALL things.
Good things. Great things. AWESOME things. Things that you and your kids will remember and talk about forever.
Life gives us enough things to stress about. Teaching our kids shouldn’t be one of them.
You taught your kids to walk and talk and eat and not die during all those reckless toddler endeavors that made them seem hell-bent on death and destruction. All without someone telling you when and how they should do each of those things.
You can do this too.
Year round education makes it easier.
Or at least it did for us. You’ll find one of the great joys of homeschool is doing what is best for your individual family.