Why I Don’t Do School Years and Does it Matter?

We, as a society, are obsessed with school years. Sales and tax-free days abound, and entire new wardrobes are needed. Even homeschoolers aren’t immune to its invasive nature.

Are you finished?

Are you taking a summer break?

Do you school year round?

I never know how to answer these questions, because you see, we don’t do school years.

There is no first or last day of school. I don’t have any pictures of my children holding chalkboard signs advertising the first day of a given grade.

This may seem sad to some, what about all those traditions? Shouldn’t they get a schultuete? Maybe, but we haven’t.

Why I don't do school years

I Just Don’t Care

Honestly, I don’t care about school years.

What is so magical about September to May? Not much, it’s just the schedule of a system in which I don’t participate.

What does 2nd grade mean? Nothing, other than the location of most 7-year-olds in a school.

Don’t you ever take a break? Well, we learn all the time, so we don’t divide life into things that count and other things that are meaningless.

Homeschool Strewing

The Funny Side of Things

We were driving home from co-op in May and when I remarked about changes for next year my 10-year-old got so upset. What did I mean next year?

I had to explain that I meant in the fall and that’s the traditional start of a new school year. She had no idea and was utterly incensed we would call anything other than January a new year.

Furthermore, I had to explain how one grade level would fall within two years. What?

And that in elementary school you’re usually with the same teacher, in the same room, with the same kids all day. She really hated this idea.

I’m sure it would make for easier conversations if I just fell in line and followed a school calendar, but…

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We’re Not a School

We’re not a school, we’re a family. Yes, my children learn and are taught things, but because they are interested, not because it’s the 75th day of 4th grade.

I’m their mother, not their teacher. My husband is their father, not the principal. We have a library/art/playroom, not a schoolroom.

What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.

John Holt

I’ve never had out-schooling the school as my goal in our home education. My intention is to live an interesting life in which I cultivate curiosity and creativity in my children.

I suppose many would say this is semantics, but words are powerful.

We Live Our Life

So despite the convenience following a school year would afford, I don’t.

I prefer to enjoy September because the weather is starting to change and the leaves will soon fall.

May is anticipated because we will be able to take the first jump into the neighborhood pool.

Perhaps my children will resent this oddity of their mother, but I hope not. My wish is that they will view it with the same freedom I do.

Homeschooling already makes you a renegade, why conform to the scheduling dictates of an intrusive system.

Homeschool strewing


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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

6 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Do School Years and Does it Matter?

  1. Awesome!! You have some great points! I know I’m super guilty about trying to keep my son up to speed on his grade level. I just can’t seem to let go and let him learn at his own pace. My son wants to go back to regular school and I know for sure that he’s not even close to being academically ready and I push him hard to get him ready but he gets overwhelmed. I really want to do unit studies, unschooling, eclectic, but at the same time, I just can’t let go and if I let him go back to school, I want him to be ready & not struggle in school. The struggle is real…

  2. Avatar Mother of 3 says:

    I only started falling into “years” just so my kids would have an answer when people (OK EVERYONE!) asks “what grade are you in?” It was just so much easier for them to answer strangers with a grade than go through the long explanation. Not that it means much to us; I’m pretty sure my middle son is “skipping” 8th and going right into high school level work but whatever. We work in fits and spurts year round and other than our math books we learn about whatever we feel like when we feel like it. I love the point you make though; we are not a school and we’re not trying to be a school but I feel like only other homeschooling families really “get” that (and not all of them either). Pinned.

    I co-host a weekly learning linky on Tuesdays and we’d LOVE to see you link up posts like this with us : https://www.ourunschoolingjourney.com/2018/06/love-to-learn-books-about-sea-glass.html

  3. I stopped caring about what grade my kids would be in years ago. It’s an artificial, arbitrary concept anyway. Great post, Bethany!

  4. Avatar Christiana says:

    I feel like this is what my family would love to do… I’m drawn to unschooling. But we love in a state where you have to report to someone, either the school system or an umbrella program, and I have no idea how to do this where we live.

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