We don't do the six weeks on and one off schedule. We don't do this so that we can take the month of December off (though in the future that may be an idea!). We do this because if we slack on our math then we forget it, if we don't take advantage of summer nature studies then we're pouty when it snows and we cannot get outside (OK, so we pout then anyhow), we do it so that things get remembered and we don't have to review.
We begin our "new" school year at the beginning of each September. We stagger our text learning so that it doesn't all begin right away. By early to mid spring we've completed all of our health studies, done 90% of our other texts, and we haven't "done" school five days a week all school year long. Most weeks we do have five days of school but some weeks we don't. If we need a day off we take it, if we aren't feeling well it's not an issue, and we don't burn out.
So, just what does our summer schedule consist of?
Math, reading, and writing. That's pretty much it. I don't demand x amount to be read in y amount of time because for us that just wouldn't work. But they all must read (or work on some form of phonics/sight words/etc) a minimum of half an hour a day. Math is the same, you have to do something with math each day. Writing comes a few times a week during the summer time. Nature study simply happens. Physical education dominates our time in the form of swimming, playing, and nature walks. I don't sit down and write out lesson plans or say that we're schooling from 9 AM until noon each day. We simply set the guidelines and make sure each item gets checked off.
Summer is the time we finish our religious education books that they receive in late spring from their catechism classes (meaning that they finally get to bring them home). We do at least one vacation Bible school during the summer, this summer they may attend two but it's the same program only two different churches, two different weeks, and one is during the day time while the other is in the evening.
We don't have any math or writing during vacation Bible school time. Reading is a constant no matter what is going on. We do tend to do our lessons in the afternoon rather than the morning as the afternoon's are often the hottest time of day and the campers and I are pretty fair skinned.
We set a date each fall to begin, usually within the first week of September. We assess where we're at in the spring and set an "official" end date. And then we spend our summers having fun and learning.
Special areas of interest this summer include Colonial times and medieval times (reading, no formal lessons). ECJ has a few weeks worth of work to finish up in his Apologia even after the "official" end of our school year. The children want to spend some time working on their swimming skills this summer. Musical instruments will twang and bleat I am sure. If something sparks our interest we may investigate it for an hour, a day, or a month. But, those main skills of reading, writing, and math continue each day so that when we begin our new grade levels we aren't spending several weeks reviewing what we've forgotten over the summer. Those first few chapters of those types of texts fly by and we're into the "meat" of the subject often by October when we begin adding our other texts.
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