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Is My Homeschool Year End Too Squishy?

Homeschooling is a journey filled with its own unique rhythm and flow, often quite different from the structured cadence of traditional schooling. Navigating this journey often leads us to ponder some unique challenges, doesn't it? One such challenge for my family is figuring out what to do about our homeschool year's end. Year after year, the way we close out each grade level always feels a bit too "squishy."

In Daniel Pink's insightful book on the impact of timing in our lives, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he emphasizes the benefits and importance of clear beginnings and endings in the flow of human schedules. Reflecting on my own experience, I remember the definitive start and finish of my public school years fondly. We knew exactly when those big yellow buses were about to pull around the corner for the first time, and we enjoyed counting down the days until the freedom and opportunities of summer break—no ambiguity there. But homeschooling? Well, it's a bit more flexible, which can lead to “squishy” starts and endings.

Our homeschool schedule gives us the freedom to adapt to all sorts of unusual circumstances, but it lacks the concrete definition of a fixed start and end date. In August, we ease into the school year, and in a long, drawn-out process stretching between April and July, we ease out of it.

Looking ahead to the next few months, my younger son's end of year is fluid and lacks the coveted “last day of school” experience. Our homeschooling days gradually wind down, with certain elements fading away while others stick around. Starting in late April, Fridays are the first to go. We are lucky to live in a town with a major amusement park, and we have a unique opportunity to log some serious coaster time with low crowds before public schools let out for the year. In May, my son’s enrichment courses conclude, and other subjects such as history, science, and language arts wrap up for the year. Even those endings can be “squishy.” For example, after we finish the rest of the Hearth & Story Fifth Grade course components, we will still likely have 2-3 chapters of The Giver left to study. On top of that, as these subjects draw to a close, math remains a constant. We always study math through the entire year, albeit with a much lighter summer schedule.

While I adore the flexibility of homeschooling, I still yearn for that classic "last day of school" feeling. I find myself wondering how to inject our homeschool year's end with a sense of closure. Perhaps, instead of a singular last day of school countdown, we should hold a series of smaller celebrations, each marking the wrap up of a certain part of our year. That could work out quite well, because my son still has a chance to experience that “grand finale” feeling as his sports season ends with the national championship in late June. The trip to Nationals could serve as both the end of this sports season and the true end of fifth grade.

As homeschoolers, we have the flexibility to craft our own milestones. While our "squishy" end to the school year may not be as clear-cut as we would like, it fits with the dynamic spirit of our homeschooling adventure!

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