If you're homeschooling, do you head to the beach with everyone else or do you head to the library when summer hits?
That depends on the age of your children.
If you have young children in the elementary grades, their long-term memories are still developing which means they may forget more during the summertime than older children. In this case, you'll have to do remedial work at the beginning of the next homeschool year which can be counterproductive.
For example, if you teach an eight-year-old a list of prepositions in second grade unless she continues to refer to the list on a regular basis, she might forget a chunk of them by the end of summer. While it'll be easier to teach the prepositions a second time around than it was the first, it's still lost time.
This is true for grammar and math concepts too. Even as an adult we tend to get rusty when we stop using a skill. Getting rusty just happens a little faster with younger children.
It's not that younger children forget every single thing, but they'll remember less than an older child might because their long-term memories are still immature.
During the elementary years, It might help to take more frequent breaks and teach year round, so you and your children don't have to waste time doing remedial work at the end of a long summer break.
You're also teaching your children to develop the habit of studying, and you're teaching them that learning is something you always engage in no matter where you are or what time of the year it is. Rather than restricting formal education to the regular school year, let it happen year round.
Young children are usually eager to learn, and as long as they are, you may as well teach them. There may come a time later when they become less enthusiastic about learning certain things you might want them to know.
One thing is for sure, older children will not memorize Latin conjugations with the same amount of glee that an elementary child will. Young children love to memorize anything!
Taking more frequent breaks, rather than being confined to the public school schedule, also gives you more flexibility if you want to go on a road trip or travel overseas for an extended visit. You don't have to wait until the summer, but you can take breaks when it fits into your schedule.
You don't even have to go anywhere. Sometimes it helps to have a week here and there to catch up with organization around the home. The more organized your home is, the easier it is to stay focused and the more productive you'll be.
For older children, taking a long summer break is not a bad idea. By now they've caught on to the fact that most kids get long summer breaks, and they'd like one too.
Let them have it.
The long-term memory of older children will be stronger, so when the new homeschool year begins, they'll probably need very little remedial work if any.
But, if there's work that they are responsible for and they still haven't completed it, then make sure their summer break doesn't begin until they have finished all of their assignments.
And...as the children reach adolescence, you may find you need a longer break too.
Homeschooling older children can demand a lot from us. While the elementary years are relatively easy to teach, the older years can be more mentally challenging.
You have to put more effort into your older children's studies than you did when they were younger because their work becomes more intellectually challenging and it challenges you too.
While older children can do most of the work on their own, which can make some things easier, they still need you to oversee their work, discuss ideas and concepts, and critique their papers. This can tax your list of duties and make a long summer break as vital to your well-being as water is to a fish.
Who doesn't welcome a time to relax and shed off some responsibility for a time, especially when you've been a dedicated homeschooling mom or dad for the past nine months?
Whether you take a long summer break, or you take mini breaks throughout the year, don't forget that the end of the official school year is the time to take stock of what each child accomplished and to make sure your records are up to date.
Tracking their progress and keeping adequate records is not only a legal requirement, but it's also fun for the children to look back on when they're older. Binders of poems memorized, books read, and projects completed gives your children a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and treasured memories to revisit.
You've worked hard, and they've worked hard; you've completed another year of homeschooling together. You can relax and be proud of you and your children's accomplishment.
And most importantly—celebrate!
If you enjoyed this, you might like my free download Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.
If you need help with your homeschooling, you can schedule a one-hour consultation with me (that's usually all you'll need) http://bit.ly/2GJAZEr