Do you know a homeschool family who just never stops? As May or June come around each year — when other families are exhausted and about to burn out — this family keeps marching along through the summer, homeschooling year-round.
Perhaps families who homeschool year-round cause you to consider doing the same. But is homeschooling through the summer really a good idea for your family? In this blog post, we’ll run through both the pros and cons of homeschooling year-round so that you can decide what course of action is best for your family.
The Pros of Summer Homeschool
There are three main pros of homeschooling over the summer — your child’s brain won’t undergo summer atrophy (ideally), they can graduate sooner, and they will have less schoolwork during regular semesters.
Pro: Summer Atrophy is Prevented
Summer what? Atrophy. According to Dictionary.com, atrophy means a “degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse.” Atrophy commonly refers to what happens to muscles after infrequent or unchallenging use. For our purposes here, summer atrophy refers to that all-to-familiar effect that occurs when our children’s brains go to mush during the summer months without homework.
While there are many cures for summer atrophy, a straightforward one would be to continue chugging along through the summer months, homeschooling year-round. In theory, this should solve the common problem of having to “take it slow” during the first several weeks back in the Fall semester when you and your student have to relearn forgotten concepts studied last year.
Pro: Your Student Can Explore Interests More Deeply
Although later in this article you will read a comparable point framed as a con of homeschooling year-round, there are many who find that the steady pace of year-round homeschooling allows for other opportunities. There are two sides to this coin!
Whether it’s an internship, a competitive sport that involves travel, or field trips that are seasonal, homeschooling year-round takes some of the pressure off from a condensed assignment schedule. Pacing the scope and sequence of the workload over the course of 12 months allows you to tailor a schedule that suits opportunities that don’t necessarily follow an academic calendar. Some examples might be going on a mission trip, volunteering in your greater community, or participating in performing arts events.
Pro: Less Workload in the Fall and Spring
If early graduation isn’t necessarily your or your child’s ambition, homeschooling over the summer can still be beneficial for your family. For example, rather than following the traditional “semester sprints” where students only learn subjects packed into three-month periods, your family can spread out your learning at a more comfortable speed.
By learning at a constant, more relaxed pace all year long, your child has the opportunity to have less schoolwork during the Fall and Spring semesters than they otherwise would if following a more traditional homeschool schedule.
Summer Homeschool: The Cons
Despite the pros of homeschooling year-round, some homeschool families would be quick to point out these three drawbacks: little support from others, the risk of burnout, and less time for essential extracurriculars.
Con: Less Support From Community
One of the most significant disadvantages of summer homeschooling is that it’s challenging to find the same level of support from other families as you can receive during regular semesters.
Every homeschool family needs support, whether from a Classical Conversations local community or a homeschool co-op. But during the summer, when these homeschool groups are out of session, it can be difficult for families to find the same level of support if they choose to homeschool straight through the summer.
Of course, suppose you know other families from your community who also continue to homeschool year-round. In that case, there is no reason why you can meet informally to receive support from one another. Still, you will miss out on the same level of accountability that comes with a more structured community during the Fall and Spring semesters.
Con: No Time for a Break
Every homeschool family also needs a break at some point or another. Summertime offers a natural place for such a break since the days are long, the weather is beautiful, and your students’ friends are all out of school.
If you decide to continue homeschooling through the summer, your family may eventually burn out. Especially if your child’s friends are all taking a break during summer, they may feel like they are missing out on maintaining social connections and may therefore become demotivated to learn at the same pace all year long.
Con: Less Time for Extracurricular Activities
A final con of homeschooling year-round is that your child will have fewer opportunities for activities outside of school since they won’t have enough time left in their summer homeschool schedule.
With a packed summer homeschool schedule, your student may miss out on working a part-time job, taking swimming or art lessons, joining your library’s summer reading program, or participating in summer camps with their friends. These opportunities in childhood are golden. So, don’t dismiss them too quickly if you’re dead set on homeschooling through the summer.
A Compromise: A Flexible Year-Round Homeschool Schedule
There are both pros and cons to homeschooling year-round. But, one of the many benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to personalize your child’s education. So why not take the best of both the traditional two-semester schedule and learning throughout the summer to create a flexible year-round homeschool schedule?
For example, your family can create a custom year-round homeschool schedule that includes the traditional Fall and Spring semesters and a summer homeschool curriculum that is more relaxed and involves learning activities your child doesn’t have time for during other seasons of the year. After all, students don’t just learn from books — they also need a hands-on education, and summer is the perfect time to provide that, whether from a part-time job or swimming lessons. In addition, you could sprinkle in some daily or weekly read-aloud sessions, math and logic exercises, and Latin vocabulary, so that summer atrophy doesn’t wipe out your child’s brain.
Or, your summer homeschool schedule could include just one or two full classes rather than four to six. That way, if you and your child are determined to graduate early, your family can still achieve that goal without burning out.
What’s Your Motivation?
Each homeschool family has different goals. If you are still considering following a more structured summer homeschool curriculum, you should ultimately consider your motivation for wanting to homeschool year-round. Do you want your child to graduate early or knock out dual enrollment college courses? Or are you just interested in homeschooling through the summer because it seems to be what those “high-achieving” families do?
Whether you choose to homeschool year-round or not, we wish your family all the best in your homeschooling journey!
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.