When does your homeschool year end?

Published by Lori Pickert on April 26, 2008 at 12:35 AM


As the weather turns warm and the green starts to emerge, we are putting down our books and moving outside — to play catch, read on the deck, draw in the woods behind our house.

We start living outdoors again. We may take sledding and snowball breaks in the winter, but it’s nothing like the wholesale move to outside that happens in the spring.

Public and private schools in our area start getting out around the middle of May (for those who have no spring break and a very short winter break) and some are still in session in June.

The biggest change for us when school lets out is that our school-attending friends are suddenly free to play during the day, during the week.

We like to schedule vacations for either the last few weeks of public school in the spring or the first few weeks in the fall. It’s such a luxury to visit popular places when the weather is beautiful but there are no crowds.

When are you “done” for the year? If you are unschooling, do you pay any attention at all to the “school” year?


Comment by greenchickadee on April 26, 2008 at 01:11 PM

Oh I cannot agree more. We all get spring fever BAD around here! Luckily, my Handy Husband built us this amazing treehouse to which we retire in the morning with books and microscope and paper and pens and spend about 4 hours each day. It's such an amazing thing to breathe the pollen filled air and listen to the birds falling in love. It just doesn't seem right to be INDOORS at this time of year!
Thank you again for your art class! My 4 year old did watercolor pansies 2 days ago. I'll try to send you a picture. It's been such a rockin blessing to us to follow your instructions!
My husband is in dental school, so we follow his schedule, but the kids and I take plenty of trips in the "off" season which we LOVE. People don't realize that Florida is a completely different place in May or September!
I must admit though, I kind of dread the school kids being out. We have a peaceful, quiet, kind of world with our little system, and it changes with neighbor kids who join us and play different games, and bring all the things that home-school shelters them from. I have mixed feelings about "official summer". :)

Comment by Amy on April 26, 2008 at 02:02 PM

Nope, we really pay no attention to it, other than what you said about trying to do things while others are still in school. Life is life.

Comment by kirsten on April 26, 2008 at 03:45 PM

Our first year we were burned out by june - I was thinking of going year-round, but decided to do a summer break (esp. as her best friend is in a traditional-schedule school). Most kids around here are in year-round schools, so the summer break is less obvious.
We learned, though, that math still needs to be done. She was so frustrated when we started back up in the fall and she had forgotten some math. So now we'll 'school' through June, probably, but continue math (and gardening, and piano, etc.) through the summer. Lesson learned.

Comment by molly on April 26, 2008 at 05:08 PM

good question. i'm actually wondering if our homeschool year ever began, which probably means we are unschoolers. we do semi-follow the school year (mid august to early june) mainly for the reason you mentioned - school friends/neighbor kids being out of school and in our house, yard, etc. this summer i am "planning" (very loosely) a math group for some of the older kids; mostly just continuing the math challenges i write on the chalkboard for avery to decipher at her convenience - fun, real world math problems. (example: mommy bought ten embroidery hoops at the thrift store for $3. how much did each hoop cost?) i think some of our school friends will enjoy a different approach to math - games, word problems, hands-on, even kitchen math. but i am with you on moving outside - this time of year is pure magic and i'm glad we get to observe it so closely, taking our sweet time.

Comment by Allison Fouse on April 26, 2008 at 05:30 PM

Hey Lori ~ We do school year round. We take breaks when we need to, but we rarely "need to".

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 26, 2008 at 07:32 PM

hey greenchick - lol re: breathing that pollen-filled air. we live in the country so we don't have issues with neighborhood kids suddenly filling the house - the boys are used to planned play dates, thankfully, and i MUCH prefer it this way!!

definitely send me pictures! i want to see! :^D) and thank you!

hi amy, kirsten, molly & allison :^)

i have been thinking about this. i find our method of learning at home (i secretly hate the word "homeschooling") to be stubbornly unlabelable, uncategorizable. i think the difference between our "school year" and summer is miniscule, but the boys react to being told "summer break starts today" like grubby dickensian orphans released from indentured slavery.

Comment by Cheryl on April 26, 2008 at 09:03 PM

We are done in two more weeks, praise the Lord! We are having the same spring fever and Mama is ready to play!

Comment by JoVE on April 27, 2008 at 01:36 PM

We are more unschooly but we do activities with others so some of our things follow school terms because that's how they are organized. But I find that in the summer, there are activities organized as day camps for schooled kids that form an important part of our "school". So Tigger is doing a 3 week theatre camp where they are producing a Shakespeare play (As You Like It). Also my work is very seasonal and I'm really busy in September, so our schooling (such as it is) is more relaxed then.

Because sitting down with books isn't a big part of what we do, moving outside doesn't necessarily feel like taking a break from school. In fact we have geared up botany right now because we can go outside and do nature walks, sketching, etc.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 28, 2008 at 02:35 AM

cheryl, we have a serious case of spring fever as well. ;^)

JoVE, i asked my 8yo about this strong reaction to SUMMER!! YAY!! and why such a big deal when there's hardly any difference? and he said, "well. it's not MUCH of a difference. but it's still a difference!" lol

Comment by Megan on April 28, 2008 at 02:27 PM

Well, we are going to keep going through May, but with a much looser structure. (hee hee, as if my structure could really get any looser... at some point it simply stops being structure, doesn't it?)

We are going to explore some more inquiry-based stuff, as a trial run. We'll do a little bit of "nuts & bolts" in the morning, and then the afternoon will be open for free time and a project of their own choosing. This way we can get our feet wet with projects without as much culture shock as we might have if we just jumped in.

nuts & bolts = math, handwriting, spelling (really just more handwriting practice)

Also, the kids can do their "schoolwork" wherever they please already, so expanding into the back yard, or parks, or tree houses, etc. is really just a glorious extension of the freedom we already enjoy.

Sometimes in the Spring I call a "sun-day" just like we call "snow-days" in the winter. Days that simply MUST be for play, and all schoolwork is left forgotten and undone. It will always be there the next day, right? But that glorious day simply HAS to be enjoyed right then, because it may never come again.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 28, 2008 at 03:24 PM

hi megan! do you think it's going to stop raining by friday? ;^)

"getting your feet wet" sounds like a great way to approach trying something new. i once taught a workshop that included some teachers who were upset that the administration was trying (they thought) to make them change their methods of teaching .. at the end, one of the oldest and most intractable teachers told me, "you know, when you said 'can you change just one thing?' i thought - i can do that. i can change one thing."


Comment by Megan on April 28, 2008 at 11:34 PM

the "free radical" in me wants to make drastic changes...

but then things get messy...

I think slowly will work better for all of us, even though it does not fulfill the "all or nothing" part of me.

I sure hope the rain stops, "cause I am looking forward to a super-awesome day!

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 29, 2008 at 12:28 AM

oh, i understand wanting to do it all at once - i admire your taking it slow against your own nature! ;^)

forget about rain - what about the *hail*?!?!

(and me too!! :^D)

Comment by molly on May 1, 2008 at 02:36 AM

wait!?! my homeschooling year was supposed to have started??

(when will we stop for the summer? depends on what time of the month you ask me...I think you understand that statement... :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 1, 2008 at 03:20 AM

lolol molly - well, hs'ing is so amorphous - i mean, you can slap a "LEARNED SOMETHING" tag on just about everything, right? so who can pin it down? ;^)

(and i do understand ... lol)

Comment by sarah on May 2, 2008 at 03:07 AM

the only thing that changes for us is my mindset, isn't trying to remember things to write down at the end of each month....i'm not documenting anything to 'turn in'. our summers are crazy busy with summer camp...the learning never stops... i tend to document things for fun and some of that i then use in the fall when i want to rebel against any system as loose as it may be :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 2, 2008 at 09:30 PM

ah, sarah, such a good point! i think it's my boys' mindset that changes as well, much more than their schedule or the kinds of things we do. :^)

"rebel against any system as loose as it may be :)" - yep! i know that feeling! :^)

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