I hit the save button, feeling inordinately proud of myself. I was using a computer based curriculum for part of our homeschool this year and was trying to reset the automatic lesson plan that the program had generated. We had gotten busy and I had decided to let the kids take the day off. I had endured the mind-numbing tutorial on how to change the lesson plan so I was feeling downright tech-savvy on that day. However, when I went back to the weekly plan, my changes had not been implemented. I tried again. Fail. After several attempts, I gave up and told the kids that we would just have to make up the work until I could ask my techie friend what I was doing wrong. None of us wanted to live with the little red exclamation marks that were stark reminders that we were BEHIND.
I never got around to contacting my techie friend, and a funny thing happened. We stayed on track. All year. We did school on minor holidays. We did school for most of December. We even kept up when the kids were sick. After all, we reasoned, if you are going to feel crummy anyway, why not get some ‘work’ done so that we could take time off when we feel good and can do something fun?
We had been homeschooling year round at this point. I had bought into the reasoning that it would afford us more flexibility throughout the school year to take days off when we wanted or needed to. What I have realized though is that, for me, this had become an excuse. It became all too easy to take a day off for the flimsiest of reasons and became an excuse to allow life to get in the way of my kids’ education. I also believed that my kids would get ahead and retain their knowledge better if they were not subjected to a long break from school. In reality, we were actually getting behind with all of our ‘flexibility’. And I have learned over the years that my kids suffer from Leaky Brain Syndrome anyway. Give them a long weekend and a large percentage of their learning goes out the window.
As I pondered all of this, I realized that I had allowed the year round schooling to become a pride issue. If I am to be brutally honest here, I felt it afforded me a measure of legitimacy to say that we schooled all year long. It sounded so smart and studious. It gave the impression that I have it all together, that I have this homeschooling thing down. But I have spent this year reevaluating my position, and I am not sure that the year-round method is adding anything at all to our lives.
What we have discovered is that we can stay on track. By prioritizing our learning, we are finishing out the year with a distinct sense of accomplishment. And we are even finishing earlier than our public school counterparts. My kids think this is pretty cool. The kids are also looking forward to a long summer break with a delight that reminds me of my own childhood. Remember the magic of summer time? I find myself incredibly excited to take this time off as well. I am looking forward to tackling a few projects that I haven’t had the time or energy for. I look forward to planning some of the ‘fun’ learning activities that we never seem to get around to doing. I look forward to reading a book or two or twenty. I look forward to spending a whole summer being just mom.
Now, I am not saying that the year round method is bad, per se. If you and your kids enjoy learning together year round, well, my hat is off to you. Keep up the good work! And sometimes life does get in the way and schooling year round is a necessity. My whole point is really this: Are you and your kids enjoying schooling at home? Are you feeling relaxed and refreshed in how you approach teaching? Are you finding times to rest and get replenished so that you can give your best to your family? If not, then perhaps it is time to reset.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you get to choose what works for you. For us, this year, we will relish our summer off. Guilt free.