I've been asked quite a bit if my kids and I are excited for "summer break." My answer hasn't been very popular: we're continuing with school through the summer. (I know, I know...BOO! HISS!)
What we're doing is called a modified, year-round schedule. We take days off whenever we want, a week off here and there when someone gets sick, plus we'll take extra time around holidays or if we all just want to play for a few days. It allows for more flexibility throughout the "school year," in my opinion.
Let's talk about this for a moment, shall we? What is the point of summer break?!? Is it to give kids a break from learning? From the classroom? From routine? Teachers spend a month at the beginning of each school year getting their students back up to speed after relaxing for the past 12 weeks. It kind of seems like a big waste of time.
In my opinion, the only people who benefit from the 3-month-long summer break are the teachers. Wouldn't you like an extended vacation from YOUR day job?!? Don't read that wrong: I completely believe that educators have been given this time off to plan and prepare for the upcoming year, in addition to rejuvenating them for the new school year ahead. It is truly the best perk of being a teacher and is a great way to keep these under-paid, under-appreciated men and women from burning out. But I'm confident that the roots of summer break stem from schoolhouses without air conditioning and children being required to help with the farming throughout the harvest months. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right.
But remember back to summer breaks when you were a kid. Personally, I was bored each year by the end of June! Until my friends could drive, that is...then they just spent their time getting into trouble and trying to get me to join them. I slept in every day, playing Nintendo and watching unhealthy amounts of The Price Is Right/Days of our Lives, all the while losing most of my knowledge from the previous year.
By the time school started, I craved the school-day routine. I didn't crave school necessarily (because I didn't think I was good at it and didn't have a desire to learn) but more the structure that was provided for my days.
Kids who can't wait for summer break probably don't enjoy learning. Heck, most kids don't enjoy learning! There are obviously exceptions to this rule, as some of you are avid readers and fill your heads with a variety of new concepts and growing ideas that are great topics for discussion at parties. That's my hope for my own kids.
I want to raise kids who love to learn, because Mike and I didn't. I still don't. I don't believe I thrive in a traditional classroom, likely due to my ADD. One common thread that I see among homeschooling families is that their parent's main goal is to foster a love for learning. They don't accomplish this through force, but it's a concept that's encouraged over time, intentionally.
For me, I believe this love for learning will develop if I provide the right type of environment and allow for natural, often unscheduled, breaks throughout the year. If we're having an off morning, we spend the day focusing on relationships instead of school books. My kids appreciate these spontaneous days off so much more than they appreciate the random in-service days that our local school district plans into their calendar.
So no, we're not taking a summer break. We'll spend the summer transitioning Kaylin into our afternoon routine, we'll go to the movies each week, we'll go to the beach with my mom for several days (and learn about Oceanography while we're there), we'll swim a lot, experiment in the kitchen a lot, and continue to learn a lot.
I'm very ready for Kaylin to be done with Kindergarten. That is the only significance of this week for us...celebrating having her home with us all the time!