Back to School – In July?


This week has all the hallmarks of summer in the south. Independence Day. Fireworks for sale. Hot HOT weather. A wading pool in the backyard. Sunset well after our children’s bedtime. Ice cream daily, just because.

And the beginning of third grade for my daughter.

What? Back to school in July? What kind of torture is that?

Yes, we homeschool and prefer to do so year-round for a lot of reasons. Here is how and why this works so well for us:

It gives us the freedom to take time off later.

We like taking some weeks off in the fall, during the holidays, and in the spring to spend time with extended family and with each other. Beginning school the first week in July allows us to start logging days of school (we must have 180 per South Carolina’s homeschool law) early, which gives us flexibility later.

It provides structure for our lazy summer days.

Both the children and I need this! It is so easy to just let time slip away, and while some of that is good for the soul, when my children have too much of it, I end up being a referee for their sibling squabbles. Spending a couple of hours a day on structured learning helps all of us get our day off to a good start and still have time for other things.

It keeps us inside when the days are the hottest.

South Carolina is HOT in July. Yukky hot, where you feel like you are stepping into an oven. It’s even too hot to go to our neighborhood pool sometimes. So we tend to do our schooling in the late morning and early afternoon, when it is too hot to be outside anyway.

It minimizes loss of material learned.

Even public school teachers bemoan how much learning gets forgotten in the summer months and how much time is spent in September just catching up to where everyone was back in June. That can happen when you school at home, too, but when we spread our learning out over the year, it happens less. We finished one math book and went seamlessly into the next.

We can take it with us.

We are on the go a lot in the summer. Family to visit, places to go. While we may put school on hold for some of those trips, we can also bring school with us, whether it is a math lesson on the iPad or audio books in the car.

We use the time to focus on different subjects than during the rest of the school year.

We homeschool through Classical Conversations during the year and use that curriculum to guide our history, science, and geography. During the summer, we focus on other topics, or on completing badges for American Heritage Girls (many of which are academic), or on taking more time for free reading, or on learning a new skill.

Lest you think we are gluttons for punishment, we do take a more relaxed approach to homeschooling in the summer weeks. Even after we finished required days of schooling, we pushed hard through May and then took several weeks off in June when we had Vacation Bible School and sport camps.

We don’t mind taking days off here and there in July and August, too, depending on our family schedule. We just keep track of them carefully so we know we will arrive at the magical number of 180 school days by mid-to-late spring, at which point we will start to let up a little and take more days off … until July rolls around and we start all over again.

If you homeschool, do you keep it up during the summer? If your kids attend public or private school, do you try to keep their academic skills up during the summer?

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Kristi is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer, and former public school teacher for English for Speakers of Other Languages. She grew up all over the United States as an Air Force brat, but moved to Columbia in the 1990s to attend Columbia International University, and has called the Midlands “home” ever since. Her days are kept full with the antics and activities of her children - homeschooling, church activities, American Heritage Girls, and Trail Life - as well as writing and leading her Columbia-based pregnancy loss ministry, Naomi’s Circle. Kristi is a contributing editor for “Rainbows and Redemption: Encouragement for the Journey of Pregnancy After Loss” ( and a co-author of “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother“ ( She shares her thoughts about faith, family, and femininity on her blog, This Side of Heaven (


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