We have opted to make some big changes here on the homestead. No, nothing major for the farm itself. Although we did opt to try planting and growing our own popcorn this year, so far it is looking good *fingers crossed*.
But for our daily tasks we have sure changed it up. Have you ever heard of places or families that do year round schooling?
The Spark of Change
Now I’m sure many of you out there are thinking “What in the world is this woman thinking?!?!”, believe me I hear ya. This was a very thought over and prayed upon decision that I came to. Sir Swine doesn’t really have much to do with teaching the kids from home so it’s all my choice as he says.
The idea first struck me when I saw how much Tractor Man had forgotten last summer transitioning from Pre-K to kindergarten this year. I thought perhaps it was simply a developmental thing at his age. But then I noticed it again over the holiday’s (a week and a half vacation for Christmas set us back two weeks).
This is not how it was supposed to be going. Was there too much of a break? Was I not getting the materials across to him well enough? Was he faking it? (Yup I even went there, he is a sneaky little boy after all *giggles*).
Why the Switch?
Reasons for switching vary but the one thing that always comes up is increased retention of materials taught. Kids are remembering more when they are doing school year round!!!
Let me say that again so you really hear it.
Kids are remembering more when they are doing school year round!!!
That’s kind of what I’m going for here. Well, and maybe a little less attitude when school session starts up again. Anything to avoid the “I don’t want to do school” song and dance.
Seems like a good idea right?!?!
Then I saw that the trend is now switching back to NOT doing year round schooling.
Schools Opting to Keep a Traditional Schedule
Chicago had a few schools that did this. Chicago’s reasoning was to make it easier for parents and daycare facilities to schedule. I get that but I’m taking that factor out of my decision making since I’m already home and I am the childcare facility.
Smithfield, NC decided to close the two schools they had that were participating in year round schooling due to costs and test scores not rising as much as they had hoped. I get it since the cost is in the hundreds of thousands category but the parents wanted it to stay year round. Though the test scores were not showing it teachers and parents believed that the year round schedule was actually improving the student learning.
When it comes to test scores I personally have always hated the concept of standardized testing. It does so little to take into account the actual child. Their attention span for the test, reading ability, attention span, ability to transfer material from a book to a dot sheet. Plus, did I mention attention span?
Why do I bring up attention span so much? I’m sure you have taken one of of those tests. Do you remember being scared at first, then a bit hungry and nervous followed by complete boredom and just wanting it get it over with?
I do! That’s part of the reason I say attention span so much. Asking kids to sit for hours days in a row is exhausting.
Still with schools getting rid of year round schooling it makes you think. There is so much to take in and think on while trying to make this decision.
Deciding to do Year Round Schooling
Our deciding point came as I was at the homeschool conference in MN this year. I heard so many parent speaking of students not retaining information. (Maybe it’s a coincidence- you know like when you are trying to get pregnant and you suddenly notice every pregnant woman.)
I also heard many speakers talking about behavior of children and how repetition is the key. Kids need discipline! They need structure! They need a schedule! They need to be held to higher standards!
But aren’t they supposed to be kids too? Shouldn’t they be allowed breaks, vacations and the opportunity to just dream and pretend in childlike wonder? Do they really need eight hours of rigorous school everyday!
For Tractor Man that simply is not an option. He needs freedom and time to let things sink in. Often he likes school some days and others he just wants to explore and question about everything that surrounds him. And I mean everything. That can be highly educational too, if you let it.
The Benefits of Year Round Schooling
The decision to switch was not taken lightly. We researched and thought about it a lot and then of course planned out. Yes, I have our entire school year planned out by the week already, vacations included.
On average Tractor Man has 5-6 weeks of school followed by a short 3-5 day vacation. We have also adjusted for our planned vacations and holidays of course.
One of my favorite things we are looking forward to involves going to see caves. Last month we even ventured to Crete, Nebraska to see the eclipse with school planned around the trip. Although, that was a highly educational trip for us. And a once in a lifetime experience.
Tractor Man is enjoying that he gets to have several “vacations”. He gets to plan the fun things he wants to do during that week off from school. It has been great so far. His first choices were visiting Grandma, going fishing, and all things camping. I’m also planning in making maple syrup, a week for farrowing show pigs, and of course gardening.
This has been a transition but we are adjusting. I think both of the boys are learning more because of it. Educating my children is important to me and I feel that taking the steps toward year round schooling are the right fit for us.
Do you homeschool? Would you consider having your child participate in year round school? I would love to hear your thoughts.