Year-Round Schooling: Why It Works (For Us)

We school "9-and-4".

All year.

Nine weeks of school,
four weeks of 'break'.

That's roughly two months on, one month off - year-round.

There is no "summer vacation" OR 2-week "Christmas break" at our house.

But why?! 

We school year-round because it has made a huge difference in our home education journey!

The intent of this post is not to convince you that year-round schooling is the BEST or ONLY way to educate children;

your children are not my children. and you are not me.

I'm writing this because I want to share why it works for us, and to encourage you to consider it as an option if you have never seriously thought about it. You might come to the conclusion that it is not right for your family. That's great - do what fits your schedule, your outlook, your lifestyle!

But if you have ever felt frustrated, anxious, or hopeless by feeling locked in to the traditional school calendar, this could be a liberating change for your family!

And certainly there are other year-round options:
  • 10 weeks on, 3 off
  • Just planning to do about 36-38 weeks' (180-200 days') worth of school (depending on state requirements), and spacing vacations and days off accordingly when you need them
  • Trimesters: 12 weeks on, 5 weeks off, with 1 floater vacation week to put wherever you want
  • 2 weeks on, 1 week off with 1 floater vacation week per calendar year
...and many, many more! Depending on the state you live in, you may need to begin and end by certain dates. Once you have made sure you are abiding by the law, get creative!

Here are 7 reasons why we chose the year-round option (in no particular order):

#1 - The Four Seasons
We take the months of January, April, July, and October off, generally (this year we had to fudge the schedule a bit because of my daughter's surgery, but by July we'll be back on this schedule again). This means that we get to be outside and enjoy the peak of each glorious season that we experience here in New Hampshire. Foliage walks in the fall, and puddle-jumping and gardening in the spring; snowforts in winter and beach days in the summer...without the guilt of "oh, but we really shouldn't be out here, we've got school work to do!" And it makes the 2 months where we don't play outside as much bearable because we all know that a break is only ever just a few weeks away.

And let's be honest: snowforts and puddle-jumping is school work, if you're able to seize the teachable moments!

#2 - Summer Brain Drain
"If you don't use it, you lose it!" Brain Drain is the bane of public and private school teachers across the country. I know, because I remember spending the first month or so of teaching on reviewing what my students had learned the previous school year, but forgot over the summer. It's because they went almost 3 months, some of them without much mental stimulation at all; but even the ones whose parents invested in their education over the summer lost some of what they'd learned!

When we only take a few weeks off, I find that I spend maybe one day reviewing math & grammar concepts, but we just pick right back up where we left off. And four weeks is a perfect time for our family; after that time frame I start to hear the "can we do school?" again, and I know we're all refreshed and ready to get back to the books.

#3 - Learning is a Lifestyle
I've mentioned it before, but the idea that learning is relegated to September-June, Monday-Friday, 8:30-3:30 in the confines of a building with peers is just simply heartbreaking to me. When we are "doing school" every day - whether inside reading or outside playing and experiencing life - my girls develop the mindset that learning is always happening. Which is a good thing because learning IS always happening.

#4 - My Kids LOVE School
Honestly. Even in the couple of days following E's cecostomy surgery, I got asked a few times "when are we doing school today?" - as she was recovering horribly. It took weeks before we actually started up again, because caring for her health needs took up so much of our day (added bonus: if you miss a month or two, it doesn't have to be a cause of major anxiety. Get out the calendar, cut back on breaks for the rest of the year, and ta-da!). But the fact remains that the girls WANTED to be doing school. And that is music to this homeschooling mama's ears! They very seldom grumble when it's time to do school - they just enjoy learning!

My husband and I are voracious readers and love to learn new things. As we model a lifestyle of excited learning, they follow. Having a whole summer off would drive them batty.

#5 - Grades Don't Mean A Thing
Chronological grades, that is. The education system in America places kids in grades by age, not necessarily by readiness, and I believe this has discouraged too many children and hindered or withered their innate curiosity.


Not necessarily too slowly, not necessarily too quickly.

But when we as a society force children into playing the comparison game, they quickly learn that they are "far behind" or "average" or a "genius" based on a random set of guidelines, crafted by man.


That doesn't make sense to me. When well-meaning people ask my daughters what "grade" they are in, my girls don't really know. I order the material that they are ready for and we just work at it until they are ready to move on. By not having a set "start" or "end" to our school year, I play down the grade level comparison. No matter where they are, we just keep rolling. They're just learning at their own pace.

#6 - Live Free or Die (or: Legally, We're Free To)
We live in NH. (Live Free or Die is our state motto. I know, it's wonderful. Thank you, Gen. John Stark)

The way our state laws work at the time of this writing, we are in the clear to school the way we do, with regards to our academic year. I am not familiar with many other states' laws concerning the length of a homeschooling family's year, but I am aware that some place restrictions on the length of time (for example, you might be required to begin your year after August 1st and undergo testing or evaluations by June 30th of the following calendar year). If that is the case, you should always obey your state's law and work around that as best as you can.

#7 - It Works Best For Us  (Right Now)
Year-round schooling - 2 months on, 1 month off - it just fits our family's lifestyle, feelings about education, schedule, and learning/teaching styles. We no longer struggle with feeling fed up with doing school. My daughters rarely fight about having to do school work. There is joy, and they are retaining so much of what we are learning together.

However, we're not sworn to this for the rest of our homeschooling days - and if you choose to try it, neither are you! We take homeschooling year by year, child by child - if this ever becomes a hindrance we will go back to the drawing board. But for now, we are seeing our daughters thrive and blossom both academically and spiritually.

What does your academic calendar look like? Do you school year-round or follow a more traditional schedule?

Schooling 9-and-4,
because it's what's needed here,
for His glory!

In case you are interested, I found these articles as I was researching for this post. This is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but an interesting place to start:
The history of the September-June school calendar in America:
Six Reasons Students Get Summers Off
History of the Summer Vacation

For a look at the reasons behind wanting to maintain a 'traditional' school calendar (strictly from a public-school point of view, but still interesting):
Coalition for a Traditional School Year

For a comparison to other countries' school years & days:
School Years Around the World

I may be sharing this post with these amazing Link-up parties!
Please pin, share, or comment on this post if it has blessed or inspired you!


  1. I love this post. It has some very good points about year-round school. Sharing this! You have gotten my brain thinking about a new plan. Thank you! Nice to see you can the Homeschool Weekly Moments and Musings Link-up :)

    1. Thank you, Heather! I appreciate your sharing it, and I'm blessed to hear that it is helping you think about your own calendar :)


  2. I plan on doing something similar. Growing up we had June off and then a lot of random weeks and days off the rest of the year. I liked it that way as a child and I'm sure it's nice as the teacher too. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. It is so nice to be able to set a schedule that works for your family, and to be able to switch it up when needed! I'm blessed to hear that you liked it growing up - that's encouraging, Jenni!

  3. I love your system! We are doing a year round homeschool, except we will take around 6 weeks off for summer, so we can do a few summer camps. I love how homeschool allows your family to really set the pace of life!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Alisa! It is such a blessing that homeschooling can work so well for each family and their needs! :)

  4. It makes a lot of sense. I home-schooled for a short while with my kids before they were in high school. It was a blessing and I got enriched too. :) I love the photos of you guys in the header. God bless!

    1. Thank you, Tina! Spending time with our kids is enriching, isn't it? :)

      ~Lisha :)

  5. We educate year around, but it's not that organized. I feel like learning is a lifestyle, and as such - it should happen all the time. Plus, it's not like we get the "it's time to go to school blues" that many children get in late August/early september.

    Mostly, it's because we can. That's what homeschooling is about. It's not about schedules and rigidity if you don't want it. It's about doing what the children need and how they learn best.

  6. Oh. Thanks so much for this post, Lish. Your blog is so refreshing. Also, thank you so much for linking up with us at the #homeschoollinkup!

  7. Thank you for sharing! My daughter is 2 so this is our first year of formal learning at home - of course we did lots of learning before this! :) I have been hoping to look into year round schooling in the home as nearly all of our public/private schools do it here so classes and groups in the community are designed around that schedule! It was going to be difficult to school Aug-May when no one else was! Thanks for giving me hope that it can work AND that kids love it! :)

  8. Great article! I've always wanted to school year round, but it's just never worked for us. Specifically, we have too many family and friends in public education (either teaching or as students), so there are all kinds of plans in the summer that our children want to participate in. It drove me batty trying to compete and I finally gave in.
    I totally agree with letting children learn at their own pace. My 11 year old daughter is only in the second half of the 3rd year Horizons math. She's actually very good at understanding math, but she's not good with busy work. She learns by reading--a LOT!! Now we've found Fred Math and supplement with it and she adores it. She's flying through those because they're in story form with very little practice. That doesn't mean I don't make her do practice work, but I let her work at her own pace...so it goes slowly. And that's okay with us! Thanks. -Tabitha (www.tabithafletcher.com)

  9. We also like year-round schooling - but with no real schedule. If we go on vacation, we take some time off for that. If Daddy is home from work, we often enjoy the day with him. But for the most part, we school 5 days a week, every week. We DO have grade levels, though - simply so we can answer that question when people ask it. My daughter is in whatever grade other kids her age are in. Period. Regardless of what level of work she is doing. That way, when she signs up for Sunday School each year, they know where to put her : )

  10. We pretty much follow the traditional school calendar, I have tried to keep going in the summer but summer activities usually get in the way. I don't mind too much because sometimes I really need a break too!

  11. Popping over from Raising Homemakers! Although we now unschool, I've kept up with the six weeks on, one week off (with six week breaks for Christmas and summer) for record keeping purposes and because I still do formal math with the older children. We live in a highly regulated state, so we ”officially” start our new year the second week of July, and I start logging the days until 180 days are documented. We don't stop learning at that point though. Homeschooling is an everyday part of life!

  12. This was great! I think everyone should consider doing year round schooling! It's been such a blessing on our family ever since we've adopted this idea. I typically plan 6 weeks on, 1 week off, then 1 month off during December (b/c we usually don't get anything done anyway), and 1 month off during July. However, my schedule never stays the same. :) So, we work, we take breaks, and by the time Aug. 1 rolls around the children have completed last years work & are ready to move forward. I agree with you, learning should be part of our lives!

    I also discovered something interesting...when the winter months roll around, we're dragging throughout the day. But when the summer months arrive, everyone is up early & ready to tackle the day. We're warm weather folks, and so we just get more work done during the spring, summer, and autumn months. Therefore, schooling during the heat of the summer, is a must in our home. Thanks for sharing! Visiting from Teaching What is Good link-up. :)

  13. My kids are doing well in public school and are having some great experiences but the main reason I would home school is if I could do exactly what you're doing - really would like to be able to take trips during/experience the peak of all seasons. You do take the best months off.

  14. Your home school connection got me thinking about how the Styrofoam Winter Wonderland Craft on my blog you commented on could be used for instruction. I updated my post with some links about animal camouflage! And I'm thinking about adding a new Pinterest board.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  16. I found your website from the link-up on raisinghomemakers.com. I really like your post - we switched our homeschooling to year-round and I love it!

    I would like to invite you to HomemakingHearts.com on Fridays for a brand new link-up; it would be a delight to have you join us!