Summer School

Do you school year-round?  Do you take summers off?

We do a sort-of hybrid model.  To meet Colorado’s requirements, we “school” 176-180 days per year with an average of 6 hours of instruction per day.  I count those days beginning in August and concluding in May (or June, depending on the year).  But once those days are done, we keep a trickle of school going for several reasons.

First, the discipline of daily work is good for all of us, all the time.  We need breaks, and we take mental health days when we need them, but most days we all need some responsibility.  In years past when we took the summer off completely, restarting in the fall was agony.  The daily work muscles were gone.  It took us several weeks to build up to be able to sustain even four hours of good work.


Second, the kids lose skills when those skills aren’t practiced.  We noticed this most in math and foreign language.  These skill areas build on themselves, and taking two or three months off can really set us back.  (Here’s a link to a news story about how much kids actually lose in a traditional summer off: 22% of what they’ve learned.)  We don’t do a lot— just 20-30 minutes a day of piano practice and foreign language or math (we alternate).  Also, we keep reading scripture and good books aloud, but it’s usually one family book before bed each night instead of 1-2 hours a day during the morning.

Third, a little bit of work gives structure to our days.  If we believe that learning is an integral part of our life, then why should that stop for the summer?  We fit exploration into our summer in other ways, too– new hikes, camping, trying new projects or learning about new things.  Continuing daily education is a part of cultivating an atmosphere of education.

Charlotte Mason wrote, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”   That’s why we school in the summer.

Share how your family lives summer in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Summer School

  1. We school (unschool?) year round. Only in the last few months have I done more structured studies of any kind. We usually just go with learning through life and play, which happens throughout all the seasons. But Henry really likes “school” and worksheets, so I’ve been giving him more focused work as time goes on. Of course he doesn’t realize that his wildlife journal and writing to his pen pal in Arizona are actually schoolwork in my book. 😉 I’ve taken to calling a few things “schoolwork” so he FEELS more official.


  2. We’re in the midst of a unique adjustment… We’ve always done most of our more formal classes in the morn, and I was in a Tues morn bible study since long before even making schooling decisions for the kids. And, since Tom and I always split the schooling anyway, we always had Tuesdays off school (and obviously Sundays, too) and had classes Saturday. So since we’ve moved, this is the first time we’ve done school 5 days in a row with 2 days in a row off. So even though we still do the 3 Rs pretty formally all summer long, it still feels like we have these great big breaks every weekend! 🙂


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