In Defense of Summer Break

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There are a lot of different schedules amongst homeschooling families and a lot of different schools of thought about summer break. Now, y’all know I don’t really do the debate thing, so this isn’t really a defense of summer break. I mean, hey, do what works for you and your family. I live in the South, so I totally get the “it’s 110 degrees, so we might as well be inside in air-conditioned comfort doing school” mindset.


However, in honor of what most people consider to be the official start of summer, I thought I’d tell you why we take summer break. And, the title sounded catchy. Oh, and just for the record, May 26, on whichever day it happens to fall, is the official start of summer at our house – it’s Brianna’s birthday and we always make sure we’re through with school by then.

1. We need a break. This year has been a really good school year. We weren’t feeling burned out. We weren’t counting down the days till we could quit. The last several weeks actually flew by.

Still, we enjoy a long break. We’re night owls. We enjoy several weeks of being able to stay up late and sleep in (yes, more than we already do). It’s refreshing to us. Summer just has a different feel to it – more relaxed, more free.

2. I need a chance to catch up. I don’t care how well I attempt (or not) to stick to my cleaning schedule, by the time the end of May rolls around, my laundry is most likely going to be piled up and the house is going to be a mess. That’s because May tends to be a very busy time of year.

Spring sports, play dates, field trips, year-end this and year-end that fill up the calendar quickly. I always – seriously, always – spend the first week of summer break catching up laundry, cleaning house, running errands, and planning a birthday party.

3. I like the down time. I love having extra time for reading, swimming,  drawing, blogging…all those relaxing hobbies that we never seem to have enough time to enjoy.

Megan Reading

4. We’re programmed for it. Like most of you, I went to public school. We got summers off. Brianna went to public school for two years. She got summers off. We’re programmed to take the summer off. It’s just the way it is.

Okay, I’m kidding. Mostly. However, the fact is: I like summer break. I want to take summer break.

That being said, we are going to try year round schooling this year. Because Trail Guide is set up in six week units, it will be so easy to do six weeks on/one week off. Even scheduling for Brianna won’t be a problem – she’ll just stop and pick up after our week off, if nothing else.

Here’s the ironic thing: When I was a kid, school started back about the third week of August. Our local public schools have been starting back earlier and earlier. We’ve pretty much had the same summer schedule they have for the last few years – done by Memorial Day and starting back around the first or second week of August.

This year, however, – you know, the year we’re trying year round schooling – most of the area schools have gone back to a more traditional summer – Memorial Day till Labor Day. Don’t think I haven’t already heard rumblings of “that’s not fair” even though everyone agreed to give year round schooling a try.

Of course, right now “that’s not fair” is pretty quickly followed by, “Yeah, but we get breaks all year and a long Christmas break.” I may have to tattoo that to their foreheads when the second week of July rolls around and I’m pulling out the school books.

If you take summer break, what’s your favorite thing about it? If you’re a year round schooler, what’s your favorite thing about your schedule?

Happy Memorial Day!

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  1. Your area schools went to a Memorial Day to Labor Day schedule? How interesting! Ours are still at the mid-May to end of July/first of August stage. So silly. It doesn't really matter to me as a homeschooler; I just like to protest as a matter of principle! We take a good, long summer break.

  2. Kris, we've always taken a summer break, for all the reasons you mentioned and also because all my girls' friends are on break, too. And in June there's swim team (daily!) and VBS; my dc have aged out as participants, but two of us are volunteering this summer. This year, we are continuing with some readings, math practice, and nature study, which gets short shrift during the year, I'm sad to admit. But that's all we're doing.

  3. We school year round so that we can take Thanksgiving to my daughters birthday (Jan 8) off. My kids love having the time off to enjoy the holidays, crafts, travel, movies and late nights. We do go easy in the summer, mostly science (what better time to study the world around us than when it is awake and nice enough that all messy experiments can be done outside), any interest led projects, and lots of reading.

  4. We have enjoyed year round schooling and it works for us. We do not feel the same pressure if we miss a week or two…for the flu. We can take off a month in the off season to go to the beach…or to Maine…or to stay at relatives without worrying. We also know that it is important to realize that learning never stops…it is a constant state of mind for our family. We change over grade levels at the end of September (after a long trip to the beach). We do unit studies when we travel. For now this works for us and we are enjoying it. When it stops being fun..that is when I know we might need a change.

  5.  When my adult kids were PS kids, their school was 13 wks on and 6 wks off. Even then, I thought it was great. Of course, none of us are tormented or held back by the PS system any longer. But I have to admit..that was a good idea while it lasted.

  6. I like the IDE of doing school when it works for us. We take all of December odd, and usually a lot of September to enjoy the cooler weather (and less crowded attractions) and then we usually have a few sick weeks in there too, plus another week to tweak the curriculum a bit early on. Maybe someday it'll be more structured, but it works for us now. Plus, the structure at least somewhat in the summer gives us something to do when it's too hot to think.

  7. We are starting the year round schedule this summer, too.  I'm stretching our current year out until June 15 and than we'll take a break until the last week of July.  Then it's 45 days on/15 days off (week days.)  Will be curious to see how it goes for you!  Figured it was a natural fit for us since we started school early last year because I was tired of the "I'm bored!" plus I was super excited to get started on our new curriculum:)

  8. I actually went to a year-round public school for about six months when I was a kid (we moved around the country a lot, so I experienced just about every school schedule and style there is), and found it not that bad. There was always a break to look forward to, and idyllic as summer vacation sounds, a lot of kids get bored with it by the middle of July anyway.

  9. We're a break whenever type of family.  We do lighter school in summer (math and reading, mainly reading) and the occasional science or history.  The science and history really help me stay on track to be done for those days when we're not consistent with our science or history.

  10. We are a hybrid. We school year-round, but we also take a summer break. However, instead of doing 10-12 weeks off, we take just 6 (last week of June through first week in August). I like this because we get the best of both world's – very few (if any) forgetting basic skills but still a real break. During the rest of the year, we do a rough 6 weeks on/1 week off schedule and take 3 weeks for Christmas. All tolled, we log 185 academic days with that schedule…not counting extra days that get counted if we do educational things on weekends or take field trips during our off-weeks.  :^)

  11. We school following the farmer's calendar. No school during planting(early May) and harvest.(end of August to mid October). So summer is school although we are usually outside tending the garden and playing in the morning and the lessons in the afternoon when it's to hot to be outside. We also take of some around Christmas and when ever else we need it. We are currently off right now as I am painting the school room and moving it downstairs to be next to the kitchen. I couldn't even find our lessons right now if I needed to. 🙂  I just love the fact that we can be so flexible and my children can be part of bringing in the harvest since they are not in a classroom.

  12. We do school year-round here, with several breaks throughout. This year we are taking a big break now in the beginning of summer so my girl's can go visit their grandma and help her out as she recovers from a back injury. They will take their schoolwork with them and work on it as they want and then when they get home we will go every other day. I love the freedom it gives us to play and work without getting bored or overwhelmed too much. Also I love how relaxed we can be during the "normal" school year. It just works so well for us 🙂

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