Homeschooling gives teachers and students more flexibility in scheduling, but that also means teachers have a few decisions to make. One common dilemma that comes up is the choice between a traditional homeschool schedule (with a summer break) vs. a year-round homeschool schedule. Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you choose the schedule that's best for you and your student.
The advantages to year-round homeschooling can be especially beneficial for certain types of students. Take a look at the benefits of the year-round schedule.
- Advancement: Year round homeschooling offers students the chance to advance more quickly, in part because they can better retain the material.
- Personalized Pace: Quicker studies can tackle advanced material at a faster pace, while students who struggle with a particular subject have more time to improve.
- More Time: With an extra 2-3 months to cover the material, students can worry less about falling behind or catching up to the standard curriculum.
- Flexible Time Off: Because there's less pressure to follow a traditional schedule, both teachers and students can take time off as needed to recharge and simply enjoy life.
While year-round schedules have a lot of important advantages, there are some negative aspects to remember.
- Tiring: A year round schedule can seem unrelenting for both teachers and students. Teachers have less time to plan, students don't have a distinct vacation to look forward to.
- Grade-level Confusion: Because of the difference in pace, it can be difficult to distinguish grade levels, and students may not stay on track with traditional schedules.
- Social Concerns: It can also be difficult for students to participate in summer activities and interact with friends during traditional break times.
How to Make Year-Round Work for Your Student
Home school teachers should keep the breaks consistent, so both you and your students have set times to look forward to. Make time on weeknights and weekends for your student to get in social time with their friends, and schedule your breaks to coincide with even a portion of the traditional breaks.
Ensure that you leave some wiggle room in your lesson plans that allow for different pace of schedules. But keep to the plan as much as possible. For certain students, you may consider creating a block of plans over the course of a few years to keep track of their pace and where they’re at in their schooling.
There are no significant studies that show traditional schedules are worse or better than year-round. This, and the advantages below, are just some reasons to stick to a traditional schedule.
- Planning: The traditional homeschooling schedule overlaps neatly with that of public and private schools, making it much easier to plan.
- Social Life: Students have more opportunities to interact with friends and participate in extracurricular activities at their local school.
- Motivation: Students see the long summer break as the light at the end of the tunnel, which can help motivate them to work hard during the year.
- Prep Time: The long break also provides teachers with plenty of time to review their students' performance and prepare material for the upcoming year.
- Tracking: The summer also serves as a distinct marker for grade / level changes, which are easier to track under the traditional schedule.
While most education programs follow a traditional schedule, it is by no means right for everyone.
- Long Break: Long summer break can be detrimental for students who need more time to catch up or those who are eager to move ahead at a quicker pace.
- Burnout: The long break also limits opportunities for shorter breaks throughout the year, which can result in burnout.
- Learning: Students are also more prone to forgetting material if they don't study consistently.
How to Make Traditional Work for Your Student
Over the long summer break, give your students some light learning materials to keep their brain active. The younger your student, the more you can integrate fun activities into the learning process even over the summer. Find ways to motivate your student as it gets closer to winter break. For example, don’t give them any homework or major projects to complete over Thanksgiving break.
If your student is struggling to keep up by the time summer comes around, prepare for a short summer session, much like the traditional summer school, that follows the typical half-day schedule. This gives your student time to catch up without taking their break away.
Penn Foster Lets You Meet in the Middle
Which homeschool schedule is best for you? Penn Foster can help either way! With a Penn Foster homeschool program, students can learn on their own schedule and interact via email and chat with instructors and classmates. Or, you can fit the schedule within the traditional timeline, yet still give your student the flexibility of pace.
Visit Penn Foster today to learn more about accredited online homeschool programs across a variety of subjects.