Should We Take a Summer Break?

Sunflowers - Close UpI believe every homeschooling family will face this question at least once throughout their children’s education. I have seen it rattle some mother’s hearts when the answer wasn’t easy. Let’s talk about some reasons people decide to school during the summer.

1. We need to catch up. Child #1 still has four chapters of math before he can go on to the next grade.

So, you didn’t finish this year? I am not going to judge because we’ve had years like that. In fact, this is something that happens with many, many homeschooling families. You are not alone and certainly have nothing to be ashamed of.

We have tackled this a couple of different ways in the past. First, we lessened the summer break to eight to ten weeks. We didn’t need June through the end of August in order to get a really good break for the kids. Since, they were already used to working on days that public school kids were out, no one complained. Second, we have saved some for the next school year. Plain and simple. For some kids it is good to have a review at the beginning of the new year to refresh the material in their minds. Saving some of it has its advantages.

2. My child needs a schedule. If I were to pick only one reason to homeschool during the summer then this would be at the top of the list. I have a child on the Autism spectrum who relies on a solid schedule. In the absence of one it creates havoc and distress. If you have a special needs child, or simply a child who thrives on routine, then this reason is something to seriously consider. It is very easy to lessen the load of work in order to enjoy the summer months. Sometimes it can take only some reading time to make the child feel fulfilled in their daily educational accomplishments and sometimes they need the full school schedule. You will know what your child needs most.

3. They will become bored if we don’t keep going. I can relate to this one. I am not certain how many people find this to be the case but my children DO become bored after several weeks of not schooling. I have had one or two children every mid- July ask for schoolwork! The first couple of years this happened it blew my mind that they would ask but I really just chalk it up to #2—routine.

I have to be honest with you. There are times this has happened in the past that I have refused to give them any additional schoolwork during the summer because I was feeling burnout from the year. Don’t forget that you, also, deserve some sort of break. If this is the case then make a trip to the library, let them pick out some books, and encourage them to read outside. I also preface this with, “Go out and get your Vitamin D!” (One of the wonderful reasons for laying in the sun.)

Now, this list does not account for those for who already school year-round. There are many additional reasons people choose to have that type of schedule.

You should know that there is no right or wrong answer, because just like the rest of homeschooling, no matter when it is, you have a choice. These choices include:

  • What works best for your family
  • The method of homeschooling you use
  • The goals you would like to accomplish
  • Does your family need a break? Like right now?

As for me and my house, we’ll see a little schoolwork this summer—for all 3 reasons.


  1. Although we may have a reading list and some planned field trips, we always take a break from traditional schoolwork during the summer. But, I don’t consider this as a halt to schooling or learning. I just know that by the time May rolls around and we get good weather…our time to be outside as a family…doing things that we love like hiking, camping, backpacking, horsebackriding, etc. are high on the priority list. I guess in some ways…I DO consider this continued schooling…just not traditional schooling. Rather, it’s more hands on learning…..application learning….relationship learning….
    Since learning is a lifestyle…it can happen year round whether you are doing “math” or not. : )
    Hope that makes sense!

    • Stephanie says:

      I look at it much like Lori does. We have tried to extend our homeschool year (with curriculum) over the summer a couple of times, but never had much success at it. There are too many other fun things to do, and they operate on a schedule that is different than during the school year, making it hard to maintain the Sept – May homeschool schedule while also taking advantage of all the summer fun.

      So we do take a summer break. I will throw in an occasional worksheets or assignments that keep up skills they have already learned, but we don’t tackle any new material unless it is initiated by the kids out of their own curiosity and passion. Leaving plenty of time for such exploration is important, I think. I guess you could say we unschool over the summer!

      But your bottom line is absolutely correct — there is no right or wrong answer, and families should not feel pressure to do what doesn’t feel right or isn’t working for their kids.

  2. We homeschool year round so yes, we do school during the summer. However, one of the reasons we do this is so that we can take more frequent breaks during the rest of the year. For example, we take a long break at Christmas so that we can enjoy and contemplate the season. We also take breaks in spring and fall when the weather is not so terribly hot. Even during the summer we have breaks when we have to put in the garden, tend the garden, put up produce, etc. Before it sounds like we never do fun stuff in the summer, I will tell you that we tend to play more educational games, (we like Qwerty Warrior is my daughter’s favorite game right now, keyboarding for speed and accuracy) and we take more time to work on science experiments (science is my daughter’s favorite subject so this is a real treat for her), and do special unit studies or projects. School during the summer works for us right now, but I am open to change if should not work in the future! Have a great summer!

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