Ahhhh, summer! It's the best season ever! June rolls around and our priorities turn to camping, vacation, snuggling young children, relaxing in a hammock, and reading great books. Have some watermelon, throw something on the grill, and enjoy the water. It's important to take a break, and spend some time relaxing so you are refreshed. Summer time - the living should be easier! But, there are always lingering questions like, "When should we take a break?" "Can I get caught up on my record keeping?" "Can I count all of the activities my kids are involved in on their homeschool transcript?" "Should I homeschool college this summer?" These questions and so many more will be answered in this book.
When to Take a Break?
Summertime means different things to different homeschool families—some keep working right on through summer, because they take breaks throughout the year, and others take the whole summer off from academics, because they've had their noses to the grindstone all year. When should you stop? How do you know? As with many things in homeschooling, it all depends on your family.
One of the ways to know that your family needs a break is if you notice that the "natives are getting restless." If your children are starting to act up, they're just not cooperating the way that they used to, and you're getting a little bit more attitude, then that's a good signal that it's time for a break.
The completion of courses also signifies a time for a break. However, if you're concerned that your child has not fully completed their science book, keep in mind that in both private and public schools, as long as the students have finished 75%-80% of what they intended to complete, then they actually have completed the course for the year, and they don't have to consider it a failure at all. In the same way, if you have completed 75% of what you set out to do, it's okay for you to say that you're done for the year.
When public and private school teachers begin the year, they often have the freedom to say, "I'm going to skip this chapter, and this chapter" in a textbook, so they can complete the course in one school year. Likewise, if your natives are getting restless, and you have completed 75% of your curriculum, you can legitimately consider that course complete.
You can also base completion of courses on mastery of the concepts. Sometimes students will already know some academic content, without actually having read the textbook. If you give a test that demonstrates that your student has mastery over a concept, such as a final exam or an SAT or AP exam, you can go ahead and consider that course finished.
The enthusiasm and energy level of your student can be a strong indicator of whether or not you're done. If your child is still really gung-ho, and you can squeeze a little more study time out of them, then perhaps you can keep going for a few more weeks. If, however, your student is burnt out, you will just be beating your head against the wall if you continue to press them for more.
The same is true for teacher burnout. If you as a teacher can just barely tolerate things, then that's the time to prioritize your mental health. If you have finished 75% and you need a mental health break, it's okay to call an end to the study time.
Anger can sometimes become an issue, for both the child and the parent. It's important to be honest with one another, and acknowledge if there's a problem. Pushing through when relationships are not good typically just leads to ineffective learning. If you find that student or teacher burnout or anger is making your homeschooling less and less effective, it's best to just take a break.
Taking a break is not an all-or-nothing situation. You don't have to choose between doing school for eight hours every single day and stopping school and never touching a book or piece of paper for the rest of the summer. You can find a middle ground that works for you. You can stop doing English or spelling, but choose to keep working on math. Especially when you are dealing with burnout or other issues, stopping for a while or stopping some particular subjects may be just the break you need to regroup and get ready to start later. You're the parent, and you know your children and your situation. Make the choices that will serve your family the best.
This post is from my Coffee Break Book, Getting the Most Out of Your Homeschool This Summer. Regular price is $2.99 on Kindle. Grab your copy here June 1 - 5 for free!