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Summer breaks are different for home school families

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By Kelly Cantrall

By KELLY R. CANTRALL kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com

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HARDIN COUNTY — As Alice Cooper rightly put it, school’s out for summer. But the term “summer break” can mean different things to different families.

Home-schooled children and their families enjoy flexibility in their school schedule that students in public and private schools do not. Home-schooled families have a variety of options afforded to them, from following a local school calendar to creating their own calendars that work around family plans.

Linda Graves continues to home school her fourth-grade son Kevin further into June than local schools. Growing up, Graves’ summer break included all of July and August, and students didn’t return the next year until after Labor Day. So that is how she has set school up for her son.

Graves, of Rineyville, is open to change with all of her family's home-schooling breaks, she said. They don’t always have fall or spring breaks, but they will schedule other breaks depending on their plans. The family will take a vacation in September, which will serve as a school break for them.

“I like the flexibility of home school,” she said.

But breaks aren’t always complete breaks, either. This summer, Kevin will be working on science to do a little catching up, his mother said. Graves said she doesn’t keep a planner for their academic year; she uses Kevin’s pace to guide them.

Jody Ingalls likes to schedule the entire year beforehand — including days her family would like off — and tries to stick to it as well as she can. Ingalls, of Elizabethtown, home schools her daughters Emma and Katrina and will begin home schooling her son Colin this upcoming year.

Ingalls began home schooling her children because of her husband’s job in the military, which necessitated several moves for the family, she said. The accommodating nature of home schooling made the moves easier, including this past school year, when the Ingalls thought they would be moving again.

Because of the planned move, they started school early — at the end of July — to prepare for the break in school the family would have while moving. Because the move, and subsequent break, did not happen, school for them finished at the end of May, Ingalls said.

One issue Ingalls and Graves encounter with their schedules is that their children are in and out of school at different times than their neighborhood playmates, which can cause occasional distraction in their households. This occurs during breaks as well as during the school day, because the Graves and Ingalls children start and end their schooling later in the day than local public and private schools.

Marsha Elliott and her two daughters, Mary Kate and Abi, follow the Hardin County Schools’ schedule fairly closely, because the Allegro Dance Theatre, of which Mary Kate and Abi are a part, follows it in its scheduling.

But like the Graveses, their summer break isn’t completely school-free. Both girls continue studying math throughout the summer, as that is the hardest subject for them and they need more time to grasp the concepts, Elliott said.

“I like that both of my children can work at their own pace,” she said.

Kelly R. Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.