Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homeschooling and Holidays

Some big homeschooling questions, ones that seem to come up time and time again: Do we take school holidays?  Do we just do what we want - and how many days do we do school?

We have tried a number of options and sometimes we combine more than one.

1.  Public School Holidays
This has been the one we have found the easiest to manage as it simply is easier because there are some amazing holiday programs during the holidays that we want our children to be involved with.  Also with many of their friends being in school, they get invitations for play dates  - which we would allow but then the other children who were left behind would then have to do school.  Which really seems to be quite unfair.
So now we take our holidays at the same time.  The downside of this is that everything is much more expensive, busy and in demand but there is always a price to pay whichever way you do it.

2.  Two Months School, One Month Holiday
This works well. It means that holidays are more evenly spread.  Often the December holidays (in South Africa) are too long and then when we get to September, it's only 10 days which really feels too short.

3. American/ Canadian/ Chinese year (or any other country that starts in August)
I know of South African families who work according to this year cycle - most often because they are using Sonlight or an international curriculum.  The problem with using this approach (though as we draw nearer to leaving for China ourselves, we will most likely make the switch too) is that the biggest holidays over winter, which in Cape Town could be a really cold, wet, experience.  There is nothing better than late summer nights and beach in December.  Couldn't manage doing too much school then.

5.  As we need
We do take time out in the term, but we adjust our other holidays too. If I take a week off in the middle of the term, because I can see that the children need a break, then I make up for it somewhere else or we just start our end of term holidays a week later.  This is one of the best advantages of homeschooling among many others, is the ability to give my children times to rest when they really need it and to get them working when they don't, which may sometimes be when the public schools have their holidays.

6.  Never take holidays - weekends are enough of a break.
We tried this, but I found that the children were fine but I wasn't.  I like to have a rest every now and then.  I need it.  I need to have a week where I can catch up with cleaning or just be able to lie around reading books and doing nothing instead of homeschooling and running around with all extra curricular activities.   

7.  All holidays and then some
I am a firm believer in freedom in homeschooling, the freedom to make choices that fit our family,however we also don't take that to mean that we just do what we want and spend half our year on vacation. I am fairly strict about how many days we school and how many hours.  I think its good to have boundaries in life and to have some guidelines within which to work.  We also have a lot of work to cover each year.  Fridays are our learning excursions, whether Cape Explorers, visits to the museum, nature studies or extra mural classes - we make sure that we get Out and About. It keeps the learning experience alive and the children have something to look forward to after a week of hard work. 

So there you have it, our holiday habits.  And this week is one of those weeks.  We are on a short vacation and my children have been attending a holiday club hosted by one of the local churches around here, heading off for a surf in the afternoon or visiting friends.

What is your approach to holidays in your home school?

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