How we learn more by taking breaks – Why year-round homeschooling is not for us

year round homeschooling

We’re lucky here in the UK that we don’t have to keep homeschooling records or prove we’ve done school for a minimum number of days per year.

Although this means we have complete freedom to choose our schedule, in practice our family mostly follows the local school terms. We also take off several term-time weeks each year to travel. Since my kids probably learn more on these vacations than they do at home,  I’m good with this.

How we benefit from “school holidays”

1. Better strewing

The way we homeschool doesn’t involve any lesson-planning as such, but I am kept busy finding and strewing interesting resources to enrich my children’s learning environment. Breaks give me time to replenish my strewing resources and inspiration.

Some strewing is quite routine. For example, I try to offer at least one fun science activity each week. Once a week I reflect on what the children are interested in, and find a related hands-on science activity. I do the same for maths.

But breaks from our daily routine give me time to delve into subjects more deeply –  to read whole books, even! Books about homeschooling, about particular subjects, or historical fiction for grown-ups, for example – all of which contribute to my children’s education.

2. Recharging and Modelling

Having more time to myself on our breaks also gives me time to pursue my own interests, which not only recharges my batteries but often also inspires C(9) and J(8).

This summer, for instance, I found time to begin learning German, which I’ve been wanting to learn for twenty years! After seeing me having fun on the Duolingo app, C(9) decided to learn too.

3. Breaks are good for the brain

I come away from our breaks refreshed, inspired and enthusiastic to begin homeschooling afresh. The children benefit just as much.

Neuroscience tells us that taking breaks improves learning.  Our brains need time to process and consolidate what we’ve taken in. And time away from studying allows C(9) and J(8) to make new connections and creatively apply what they’ve learned in novel ways.

And of course, we never stop having conversations or reading great books.

4. Friends, Camps and Hobbies

School holidays are when there’s time for my kids to hang out with their friends, both schooled and home-educated. To do sports, art and drama courses. To spend hours on a hobby, making daisy chains or just relaxing with a book without being interrupted by our usual extra-curricular schedule.

And quietly observing how my children choose to spend these long chunks of unscheduled time helps me be a better homeschooling mum.


Our homeschool routine helps create momentum that carries us towards our learning goals.  But from time to time it makes sense  to slow down and check we’re all heading in the right direction.

homeschool breaks

For more perspectives on year-round homeschooling (or not), visit:

Barefoot Hippie Girl – School Year Round or Not on Your Life

Every Bed of Roses – Year Round Schooling

Highhill Homeschool – School Year Round?

One Magnificent Obsession – Summer: Repair and Prepare

Next week the Homeschool Help team will be considering the subject of grades. If you’ve visited before, I’m sure you can guess which way I go on that topic. 😉

Here at Navigating By Joy I post regularly about how we homeschool science, maths, history, English, art, geography and a lot more besides.

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4 thoughts on “How we learn more by taking breaks – Why year-round homeschooling is not for us

  1. I’m on the fence with this. I like to home school year round because I know it frustrates my son to lose writing and maths skills he built up the term before, but for all your reasons and more I like also to have a break. This summer was a bit of a compromise but T still feels like he’s playing catch up, which he hates.

    1. I think you can count this summer a success, Claire! You are the Duracell bunny of homeschooling – I only wish I had your energy! If T11 has inherited your energy he probably doesn’t need to slow down. 🙂

  2. I don’t really know where we are with breaks and such, and it seems like we might be year-rounders since I don’t consciously build in an entire week for breaks, but when there are half-term activities we take part in those when they suit us. However, we do take breaks as and when we need them to prevent burnouts. 🙂

    1. It sounds like you have a nice balance, Hwee. I would actually like to see a bit more of my children over the summer but as we spend it at the beach, I tend to lose them to their friends’ houses! And then there are times like last week when I suggested that we should continue with a bit of English and maths routine through half term as we’ve got two holidays this term, but that only lasted a few days before other things (mostly playdates) got in the way. Still – they seem to be learning, so I can’t grumble! I like to think I’m like you in being fairly flexible, though. 🙂

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