Finished!

Every year, my goal is to be done with school by the end of April or the first week of May. I have several reasons for this.

First and foremost is our farm. We have a lovely farm on 43 acres in Middle Tennessee. However, on a farm, spring means lots of work. If I don’t get school knocked out before mid-May, we will be hit and miss with our lessons. Haying season, planting a garden, spraying fruit trees, cutting grass, and getting the myriad other chores done really put a kink in our lessons.

Secondly, by the end of April, we are DONE. Fried, crispy, brain drain done. I suppose we could buckle down and work if we needed to, but it sure is hard at that point in the year to do quality work. I am just as burned out by April as the kids are.

Third, by mid-April in Middle Tennessee, the weather is GORGEOUS! Who wants to stay inside and do math when the weather is perfect for horseback riding, gardening, or just taking a walk in the field?

How We Do It!

Many people ask how we do this. Mostly, we get things done just by knuckling down and working really, really hard when the weather is awful. Snow on the ground is not a snow day for us. We start in August when it is HOT, and even though September and October are pretty nice, we are still riding the initial enthusiasm for working on school work. So I take full advantage of our energy peaks as well as bad weather days.

We also take very few breaks during the year. We almost always have 18-19 weeks of school work out of the way before Christmas. We don’t take field trips very often in the morning hours, which is prime school time for my family.  If we do take a day off for a doctor’s appointment or something else, we try to make up the work that same week so we do not get behind where I want us to be. I take sticking to our daily school schedule very seriously, since my ultimate goal is to be finished with our bookwork by May. Of course, there’s really no “behind” in homeschool, but I do set goals and try to reach them.

Taking the Summer Off

Many homeschool families don’t keep this kind of schedule. They prefer a more relaxed pace and feel that their kids lose too much ground in the summer as far as learning retention goes. That’s their right. For our family, taking the summer off is the right choice.

And just because we take a summer off, we aren’t not learning. We still take our weekly treks to the library. It makes me so happy to see the kids laying around the living room reading all afternoon. The whole family works in the garden and on the farm. We write letters, watch educational shows, and explore nature in depth on our summer break.

Then, I can hit the books again when August comes around. The break gives me and the kids a greater enthusiasm for learning.

Does your family take summers off of school? What factors play into your decision?

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