Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Decisions Part II: Year Round School?

This is the second post about scheduling decisions we are trying to make for next school year, which is our first full year of homeschooling.

The first decision we are considering is whether to use a 4 or 5 days school week for the main subjects. In the 4 day plan the 5th day is a special subject and catch-up day.

The second decision is the length of the school year. We are considering a longer, almost year round, like school year.

A school district in our area, not the one in which we live, has used a year round schedule for decades and recently decided to slowly change to the longer summer schedule.   Amber has always been at schools that used the longer summer schedule, and I've always been envious of the people in the year round school.

The families in year round school had, in my mind, more benefits.  They still got a long break in the summer, it just wasn't 3 months long. However, they had fall, winter and spring breaks that were 2-3 weeks long.  Just when the kids and the parents are starting to burn out, they had a break.  There were years that Amber's school didn't take a break, other than Labor Day and 1.5 days for parent-teacher conferences, until the 3 days they got for Thanksgiving.  Those were rough years.  The years with a late Spring break, because it is based on Easter, were tough too.

Additionally, Amber is an only child.  She gets bored of the endless free time during the summer and no amount of Mommy playing can help this. There is only so much we can do indoors during the heat and humidity of July and August in Missouri.  This is not the best state for outdoor fun, at least to our bodies.  Before the debacle with her last school, in mid-July Amber would start talking about and anticipating school.  Summers were just too long for her.

Still, I really need to look at the logistics of it all. I don't think it will work to categorically state we will have 6 weeks on and 1 week off.  There will be events that come up and throw that schedule off.  I think the best I can definitely say is that we would start around August 1st and end around May 31st.  Other than that, the breaks would just have to be scheduled as we start to feel the burn out coming.

I really foresee December being a problem for us.  It was already difficult for Amber to stay focused in December when she was in the parochial school.  I imagine it will just be more difficult being at home.  I'm already planning on trying to make the load lighter in December and maybe do a lot more projects.

Other than December, my worry then goes to the end of the school year.  Amber always got out in May in her parochial schools.  She will finish in very early May this year with our homeschool.  Will we burn out next year and be unable to go into late May?   Will we be unable to get our momentum going again after our last break of the year, whenever it may be?

Since this will be our first full year of homeschooling, I'm a little concerned about changing up the schedule too much.  There is also the argument that we will have completed, basically, a whole semester of homeschool prior to next year and so we do have a good handle on how to schedule.

Argh!  I'm waffling back and forth on this pretty much hourly.  My husband's input has been this one question, "Will it give you a long enough break in the summer?"  The summer isn't my concern.  It's December and May that I worry about.  

Combine this with the question of the 4 or 5 day school week.  Can the decisions be made independently, or do they need to be made together?

Again, any input or experience with the year round schooling?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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