Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Rethinking Year-Round Schooling

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Here in Wisconsin, our family is one of those on the cusp sorts of homeschoolers. In our state, kindergarten is not required. Compulsory attendance laws only cover children from the ages of 6-18. There was a law passed semi-recently that basically says that if your child is enrolled in a public school kindergarten, that they are required to attend or parents will face truancy charges, but it did not change the compulsory attendance law already on the books. As such, we were not required to file paperwork with the state this year.

Filing the paperwork basically attests to your meeting the requirements laid out in the laws including 875 hours of instruction. I’m sure there are many families that follow a schedule similar to their local school district, but since part of the reason why we’re homeschooling is the freedom that it allows us to follow my husband’s work schedule, that doesn’t seem to make much sense.

This year we took a rather leisurely pace – taking a day off when the fancy struck us was really nice. For instance, there were a handful of “Mommy Sanity Days” thrown in there for good measure. I like the idea of year-round schooling. There are fewer extended breaks along the way that help to cut down on the need to review so much. We’re a lot less likely to have to go back and cover the same ground because he forgot while on an extended break. The fact that it mirrors real life is certainly an extra bonus.

The problem? We’ve now entered the time of year that I call the “sand season.” Mostly because of the large volumes of sand and dirt that the children track into the house. My kids get up in the morning and the first question, after inquiring about breakfast, is if they can go outside to play. They will spend from sunrise to sunset (just about) happily trudging through my derelict flower beds and the sandbox while intermittently running through the grass. Aside from meals, please don’t bother me, Mom, we’re busy.

This is not conducive to traditional school work and I have a hard time telling my kindergartener to come inside, sit down, and work on some math or handwriting. Heck, I even have some reluctance to do so with science and my kids love science. Yes, I do count some of the time they spend playing outside in our school hours, but that still leaves us with the problem of traditional school work.

This year I’m not so concerned. He’s just in kindergarten, after all, and there’s a lot that kids learn through play let alone the physical benefits of it. (As an aside, I’m sad that the friend my son had made in the neighborhood has apparently hit the age where he’s no longer interested in playing outside and would rather sit and watch TV when he’s not in school or involved in the myriad of activities his mom has signed him up for. Where are the playing children?) I can’t help but wonder if, in an age of rising childhood obesity, all those hours of free play is such a bad thing.

That leaves me with the question of next year. The big first grade year and our first round of paperwork. There are things I’d like to cover…do we trudge through when the weather is less than conducive to outdoor play so that when it’s nice out we’ll be free as a bird? …as it were.

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3 thoughts on “Rethinking Year-Round Schooling

  1. I don’t blame him for wanting to be outside! 🙂

  2. With a little creativity he can be outside and doing schoolwork 🙂 Take him to the library and pick out some non-fiction books about bugs, then have him see how many he can find. When he captures one inspect it so that you can identify it and all it’s different characteristics. We do math outside in the driveway all the time, we use gravel rocks for counters 🙂 Sit down on a blanket under a shade tree and read books. You’d be surprised how much schooling you can get in while still indulging in the great outdoors.

    • That is a fantastic idea. I’m sure there are a number of things like that which would be a great fit for many families. I know that my kids do quite a bit of that on their own, watching Sid the Science Kid this winter has certainly helped pique their interest.

      When I think of school…the kind that I’m actively involved with…I’m talking primarily of the three Rs as it were. It’s usually a good reminder to me that we’ve already covered quite a bit so far so a little bit of time to relax and play isn’t such a bad thing.

      Later that night, after having dinner I suggested that we could do some school. My son was game and we sat down at the table and worked our way through math and phonics. He was eager to get to work and the time flew by. Yes, it was after 7pm, but I guess there’s really nothing wrong with that. Who says school only has to happen between first shift hours?

      This has repeated itself since then, with my son insisting that we had to keep going last night and get out “The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading” so that we could do the next lesson.

      I’m learning to live in the middle of all the different styles and find what works best for us.