“Summer”: the most beautiful word to every student! Warm sun, free days, and no school mean the best days of the year. For parents the word is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. What do you do with the kids all summer? Do you take time off completely? They earned the break, after-all. But what about the summer slump? Will all that hard work go to waste? How do we know when to work through the summer, and when to take a break? For every family the answer to those questions will look different, so here are some things to consider when making your summer plans.
Flexibility is the beauty of homeschooling. You have the freedom to choose your days throughout the year to suit your family’s schedule. The best time to determine your schedule is at the beginning of the school year. Having a plan ensures that you allow allocate enough time for schoolwork throughout the year. Sometimes it can be hard to know how much time you need. This requires observation and experience to know your individual children, and your curriculum. The beautiful thing is that adjustments can always be made at any time. Once you have determined the amount of time needed, you can decide how you want to spread that out over the course of the year. You can work at a regular pace throughout the summer, take the standard eight to ten week break, or modify the summer vacation with short breaks dispersed throughout the year.
Reading, writing, and math are the three skills that need the most attention throughout the school year. These skills strengthen through time and use. Content is not the main focus when looking at preventing the atrophy of these cognitive muscles. What is important is that the child has consistent time devoted to growing and advancing in these areas throughout the year. So, if you decide to take the standard summer break, include a minimum of 30 minutes of reading per day. The books should be an appropriate reading level, and allow your child to pick ones that captivate their attention. Writing is a little lower on the critical skill scale, but it is simple to incorporate into the day. Daily journaling, letter writing, and creative writing are great ways to engage your child in writing. The writing doesn’t have to be profound, or even edited! The point is just to exercise the writing muscles and keep the mind fresh. Math is a critical skill that should not be over-looked during long breaks. Again, just fifteen to thirty minutes per day practicing math facts, playing math games, or even working through a workbook will help keep those skills sharp. This works out to be an hour or less of “school” work per day. This can be broken up; it does not have to be done all in one sitting. Naturally, the more fun and engaging you make this, the less resistance you will receive. All of these things can be done together and provide opportunities for quality time together.
For those that choose to take their breaks throughout the year, time off is important for preventing burnout for you and your child! Taking a week or two off at a time will not result in great loss of momentum or skill. Free time is just as important for learning, as studying is! I always love to see children so captivated by their books that even on break they don’t want to put them down. Reading for pleasure is a great gift, and a wonderful family activity that can be incorporated into daily life without feeling like work. Allow you and your children guilt-free time away from school. Having a plan in place from the beginning will give you the peace of mind needed to enjoy these short breaks, and put all your energy when it is time to work.
There is no one right answer to the summer break dilemma. Make a plan, follow through, and enjoy the fruits of your labor as you sit back and enjoy your break, whenever you choose to take it!