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Sometimes I Wonder if Summer Break is Worth It

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Don’t hear me wrong. I truly enjoy taking a break (for the most part) from school in the summer. Yes, we do work on a some school things as the weeks go on, but the overall routine and rhythm that we get into during the school year is gone and quite honestly – our home starts spinning into a wee bit of chaos without that routine.

Those of you that are year-round homeschoolers may be shaking your head at me and thinking “You could just school year-round” and while I agree in part, that break has been a bit crucial for us since our kids participate with a local swim team (and OH.HELP.ME if we had school and shuttling back and forth to the pool all.day.long. – not going to happen).

That said, this summer was a time where I actually felt like I did have the chance to disconnect and relax – which is huge for me. Lazy afternoons by the pool. Time spent camping with our friends. Those breaks are really, truly essential.

But at Home…

On the other hand, life on the home front felt like it was falling apart in stages. Our chores and helping around the house lists were supposed to be getting a revamp…and we fell off the bandwagon on that front. Hard. Kids then complained when they were asked to do something that ‘wasn’t their chore’ (sigh) and round and round we went. (Oh, yes. We are fixing this fast).

The “I’m bored” mentality set in and suddenly everyone felt that they must sit their bums down on the couch and watch endless hours of tv (ummm…not going to happen. Hello outdoors??).

We visited with friends. We took day trips. Spent lots of time at the pool. But the downtime seems to lead to a lot of sibling fighting (Yes, our kids fight. I’ll admit it openly!!).

In turn, Mom (that’s me) got rather frustrated and began losing patience quickly with the kids who can’t figure out what to do with all their free time and must ask for something to eat…or do…or (fill in the blank here). Perhaps you can relate?

Meanwhile, we started back to school this week…

Thankfully getting back into a groove has been fairly quick. There are a few stragglers in the morning and we’re still floating on the *new* year emotions, but I have to say it’s been going well so far and making me think about ways to shorten our break next summer…somehow. The kids and I both do well with routine and knowing what to expect from our days.

The ‘limited’ time in our day after school is done has helped me really focus in on what NEEDS to be done and not waste time on ‘fillers’. Truthfully, I feel like I’ve accomplished more this past week than I have in the last month. (I’m not opposed to the argument that self-discipline may have something to do with it. Cough).

School time makes me feel more accountable for what we are doing and really take account of the moments that we are spending learning together. I 100% think that we need to take breaks and relax, but am rethinking our summer ‘gap’.

On the other hand – the break also makes me really excited to get back to teaching our kids and learning again. At the end of the year we were just ready to be DONE and now we are excited to start again. Isn’t it funny how a step back can change our perspective?


So I’m curious – how does your family do with a summer break and then back to school? Do you school year round or are you an avid supporter of an 8 -10 week summer break? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  • I’m so happy to hear someone else verbalize what I’m feeling!! We are “finally” starting school back on Monday and I can’t wait. Life is just crazy and out of control during the summer, but I don’t yet feel like we can do away with summer break. With extra church activities and our need for a bit of a break……I’ve been going along with the typical summer break. I’m looking for an alternative though – this summer was brutal.

  • My four fall apart without the routine. They really need the structure (some ADHD and OCD). We school 2 to 3 hours in the summer during the hottest part of the day, so they aren’t out in the sun so many hours. We are done with our Sonlight curriculum by the end of the May or June, so we gather novels from the library and usually still have some math to do, and we write in journals and continue to do read-alouds every day from classic lists or from Newbery lists. By August it whittles down to about an hour or 90 minutes a day, and then around August 20 we break entirely for about 2 to 3 weeks depending on behavior. We go to a lot of therapy appointments during the school year, so that is another reason we school year round.

    I guess I need the routine too. :)

  • I hear you on this! We had been off since mid-May as the weather got nice (here in the frozen north of Ontario, lol, we have to take the nice weather as it comes). We typically hit the first week of August and everything is falling apart. School doesn’t start back up here until first week of September, but this year, since hubby and I are away for 2 weeks then, we are starting early. Tim said it best “It’s like they don’t know how to control themselves anymore!”. TOO MUCH SUMMER BREAK! 2 months straight or almost no school is more than enough. So we still take a break, do some stuff over the summer, enjoy time with family, camping, cottage, but start back early and it gives us time to do things like ski trips in the winter. So yes, I am for summer break, but not a long one :0)

  • Maria Morris

    Truthfully, we did nothing, but play and relax. Well, maybe not relax a whole lot. My husband is in the process of extending our home so we can have a school room this year, so we will be starting our school Sept 2. I am a firm believer in taking a break, but not 100%. In the summer I like to continue our reading doing a little math once or twice a week, our faith studies of course, and even some fun outdoor nature studies that way, we haven’t totally lost the groove when the school year starts back up.

  • Sarah D.

    Our summer is going great! With a late end to the school year, we’re not starting again until after Labor Day. As someone who is trying to recover from adrenal fatigue, I made two goals for the summer for myself: to relax and to do things with my kids that I don’t normally have time to do during the school year. However, the housework didn’t go out the window, either. My kids are old enough to farm out some of the jobs to them, and they usually did them pretty quickly to get done with them. If they complain, I give them an additional chore to complete. :) And I bribe them – an afternoon snack when their chores are done. :)

  • Jolanthe,

    We homeschool year-round, but take a short break (anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks) at the end of June/first of July and then start our new year on July 15. The main reason for the break is to give us time to focus on the little man’s birthday –July 3, and a bit of time for Mom to do the whole “out with the old, in with the new” routine LOL! Any longer than 2 weeks though, and we might as well just forget it —we find it’s too easy for kids and parents alike to slip into routines that are hard to break when it’s time to start focusing again (like regular napping, too much TV/computer time, frequent snacking [unhealthy of course!], etc lol)

    During this time we still encourage reading time and Dad will frequently find some things they can do outside, or for rainy days we watch educational shows/documentaries or play board games, maybe do some crafts. We don’t press other types of school work during this period because the break seems to be really nice for him and helps him focus better when we get back to school. Of course we do make activity books and such available because sometimes he actually chooses to do these on his own :)

  • Tammy Jones

    I totally agree with you, and I can’t wait to get back to our routine. I was hoping to do more structured schooling during this summer, but the kids were going in different directions with gymnastics and baseball so it didn’t seem to happen. I am not sure how to do structure when baseball started in spring and we didn’t finish till the end of July and still feel like we got a break. Racing all over for baseball wtih a little is not relaxing to me. at. all!

  • ALana Wemple

    I am right there with you. We took an 8 week break in May and June this year. We still had the “I’m bored’s” and the fighting, but it was limited. We had a big harvest from the garden this year and were pretty busy with the 11 new chickens and then 11 new puppies. I will do this every year! We take a long break during December and March. We also take a week off ever 6 weeks or so depending on holidays. My kids do so much better with a structured day of school and chores. Then, when they have free time I do not see them. They appreciate their time to do what they want so much more when they have to work first. And guess what? I don’t have to find them something to do. Bonus.

  • I’ve been having the same feelings. We have a busy summer with church things so I can’t really give up that summer break, but I feel like everything is falling apart. Ready to get back to our school schedule on Monday!

  • My girls still do math, reading and some writing over the summer, but it’s still very laid back. This gives me time to work on projects around the house and still keep their minds from getting too muchy.

    However, I too prefer the schedule and continuity of our school year. We start back on Monday, and I truly will be glad to get back into the routine!

  • Stacey

    We usually take off July & December (between travel, Christmas, and 2 birthdays very little was getting done)
    I enjoy our monthly July off to clean and reorganize, but I felt that out of control feeling this year too. Way too much TV, fighting and whining around here. We are having the chore problem too. I redid the chart and there is some rebellion to the new chores. This is week 2 of school and new chores and it’s going slowly. I’m praying next week will be better.
    It always nice to hear that other families struggle with the same things we do.

  • Holly

    I have young children (7,4 and 1) so I think I still (for now) have it easy with limited activities, but this summer went pretty well. We took a much needed 6 week break from June to mid-July. We were so busy with VBS, art class, and vacations that it didn’t lend itself to a lot of structure. Once we were all home and activities had waned a bit, we started school (light load) and chores (heavy load) all in one week. I talked it up several times the week before so they could be prepared. I also instituted a new independent reading (30 min) and independent activity (30 min) time into our day. LOVE IT! I agree with other commenters, having some structured points in the day helps to allieviate some of that stress and chaos.

  • we’ve been back in school for almost a month now. we took six weeks off — i’m starting to think that even that was too much. we decided to start early so we could take more breaks throughout the year. i’m contemplating doing year round with less school time each day. i don’t feel like we are enjoying the journey as much as we should be. just when i thought i had this homeschool thing down. sheesh.

  • Sounds exactly like our summer…

  • Renee

    I’m glad we’re not alone. We are all ready to get back to routine and structure here. The beginning and middle of summer break was wonderful, but the past few weeks have become increasingly more difficult… more tantrums, more attitude, more laziness, more arguing, more “I’m bored”, etc. We start up again tomorrow, and we are all thrilled! Structure and routine are necessities in this house!

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