Ah, summer vacation. Here, we’ve been done with the school year for over two weeks. We usually end our homeschooling around when the local schools are done, but it depends on if we’re done with what we need to get done for the year. And now, despite the heat, we’re all happy to have a different schedule and pace of life. The kids are free to do whatever they like, within reason, pursuing their special interests. I have larger chunks of time to focus on work, pushing ahead projects that I have to set aside during the school year. Summer is a time to relax more, decompress, and have quiet time. It’s a time for us to all catch up, regroup, re-examine where we are, and plan for the next year.
Some schools, and homeschools, prefer to do year round schooling. They have more frequent and longer breaks during the school year to break it up a bit, but they go to school all… year… long… Sorry, that just doesn’t work for us. The heat of the summer affects how well our brains work, especially in the afternoons, even with air conditioning. Plus long breaks during the year would get us out of the “mode” of school and school schedules, which disrupts our routine (this is especially important for my son). It works best for us to have a few shorter breaks through the year, but then to have one really long one in the summer. It’s a total palate cleanser, and by the time autumn rolls around, we’re ready to dive back in, ready to get back into the routine of formal schooling. A long break also provides a clearer division between subjects. Some people don’t like that, but we’re the type to categorize and compartmentalize.
Schools also worry that too much knowledge will be lost over a long summer break. Oh no! They’ll forget everything we taught them! Oh, the horror! Well, if the child actually learned something, they aren’t likely to forget it that quickly. Plus, this is what I’ve observed: You teach your kids stuff. You teach them more stuff. It doesn’t all sink in at once. Sometimes it takes time for their brains to wrap their head around topics and concepts. Sometimes not teaching them anything formally for a while helps them learn, helps them retain what they read and saw and heard and did. My kids are better at math at the beginning of the school year than they were at the end of the previous one. So, for us, summer vacation is also a time for their brains to assimilate all that they’ve learned, all the while relaxing. Win/win.
So, summer vacation. It holds a vital place in our annual patterns, a time to refresh ourselves, solidify what we know, and regain the energy to start anew.