Why the Challenges of Year-Round School Are Worth It for Our Family

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Our kids' neighborhood K-8 public school happens to be on the year-round schedule, which means that though we only get five weeks off for summer break, we are treated with three-week breaks spaced evenly throughout the year in the fall, winter, and spring. Although the school year starts at the end of July (yes, that part is cruel), we finish with the other schools in our district the following June. We have absolutely loved the year-round schedule.

Just when our kids have had enough with classes and homework, we get a few weeks off to refresh our minds. And just when we parents are starting to go bonkers with our children being home all day, they go back to school. Teachers say that their students retain more when they return for the new school year. The teachers all love the year-round schedule as much as we do.

We particularly enjoy our fall breaks. The weather is milder, the crowds thinner, and airfare cheaper than during the summer. Many of our school families take their big trips to exotic places during the fall. We take off to Hawaii every fall to go see the kids' grandparents. It alleviates the heartache we feel returning to school when other students are still enjoying their summer. After all, while most families are going to back-to-school night, we are boarding a plane to paradise!

But, alas, no good thing lasts forever. When Josh finished 8th grade, it was over. No more year-round schedule in high school. Due to sports and other interscholastic activities, all high schools in our area are on the traditional school calendar -- long, hot summers and virtually no breaks all year except for a few days here and there.

Even worse, I would have our kids on two different schedules! It pretty much meant that we were not going to be going anywhere for two years until Meg graduated middle school. Oh, the sadness!

What was I to do?

That's when I took my friend Heather's advice: enjoy spending time with one child at a time.

This August, after Meg already went back to school, I took Josh and his friend Sam to Honolulu for a week. Yes, it was very hot, crowded, and expensive, but we had a wonderful time. It was fun getting reacquainted with my teenage son while enjoying activities together such as snorkeling, swimming, and just hanging out.

Why the Challenges of Year-Round School Are Worth It for Our Family

Then this fall, I went back again to Hawaii for a mother-daughter time with Meg. Her activity of choice was shopping, of which we did plenty in Waikiki. The more time I spent with this girl, the more I enjoyed her. We ate a lot of good foods together and spent much time with my parents and my sisters, her aunties, who also flew into Hawaii to be with us. Between these two trips, my parents were also able to have individual times with each of their grandkids, which was a blessing.

(The only person in the household who hasn't been able to go to Hawaii much this year is my husband David! Don't worry -- he'll be spending an extra week with Meg in Honolulu during winter break.)

Navigating the rough seas of various school calendars and breaks have taught me that, once again, parenting has a lot of unexpected surprises that could turn out better than even expected. Don't get me wrong -- we have absolutely loved year-round schedule and wish high schools had them, too, but we somehow figured out how to work with two overlapping schedules. We are going to be entering uncharted waters once again when both of them are in high school next year, but I have a feeling that it is all going to be okay. After all, in only a few more years, they are both going to be out of the house. That is going to be so sad...but maybe unexpectedly good, too!

Does anyone else like the year-round schedule? Tell me what to expect when our family enters traditional schedule. What do you do with your long summers?

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