Are you ready for a homeschool break?
You’ve made detailed plans for your homeschool.
Filed all the worksheets and activities pages. Purchased science and art supplies. You are now ready for a fantastic homeschool year.
But are there times you should ditch the plans to take advantage of the freedom homeschooling offers? And if you do so, how do you get back in the saddle again?
Let’s start with why you should take a homeschool break:
Sometime around February cabin fever hits. You’re through the holiday season. Gray winter days are here to stay. And spring seems far away.
Everyone has cabin fever.
You need to change the pace! And the best thing to do is to put the plans aside, head out for an adventure, and cure the cabin fever.
This doesn’t mean you’re getting rid of the plans, you’re simply putting them aside and enjoying the flexibility of homeschooling.
The opportunity to spend the day at the museum studying art. The chance to head to the zoo and observe animals.
Or simply a day to spend hiking around town and enjoying a relaxing day with your kids.
When cabin fever hits, drop your plans, and enjoy a day of freedom. You need a homeschool break.
It would be nice if kids learned linearly. But they don’t. Sometimes the material moves faster than your child can keep up. They’re doing well, but the material keeps getting more and more challenging.
The next thing you know, your child is overwhelmed and near tears.
The plans are moving too fast for your child’s understanding.
Your solution is to roll back the plans. Turn back the pages. And spend time reviewing the material.
Reviewing the material will give your child confidence and the chance to master the material. I’ve often found it necessary when I’m teaching kids to read.
We keep moving forward until the amount of phonics is overwhelming. And then we turn back the pages and review it again. Little kids love easier work. They love quickly moving through the lessons and getting on to play. And they love seeing how much they’ve improved.
Because they remember how difficult the material was a few weeks ago. And now it’s easy.
So when your kid is overwhelmed, roll back the plans.
Periodically a unique opportunity will come up. You’ll have a spontaneous chance to see Phantom of the Opera. Or you discover that the ceramic army from Ancient China is in the area. But it’s leaving tomorrow.
Do you keep your plans or do you take advantage of this unique opportunity?
For heaven’s sake, take advantage of the opportunity. when is the next time you’re going to see The Phantom of the Opera or the ceramic army from Ancient China?
One of the biggest advantages homeschooling has is the freedom to grab ahold of these opportunities and enjoy them. So when you have a unique opportunity comes your way, take advantage of it. Ditch the plans, grab the kids, and head out to enjoy yourself.
Your homeschool plans will still be there waiting for you!
Every single year I’ve homeschooled a crisis hit. And from what I hear from other homeschool moms, it happens to you as well.
The flu goes through the house, one child at a time. It takes weeks before you have a healthy family again. In 2009, it was the swine flu hitting my house. It went through almost all the kids, one at a time. And just as we were seeing the end of the swine flu, a bad cold hit and went through the kids in the same way.
It was 8 weeks before everyone was healthy again! The only good part is that my baby did not get sick.
Or a wonderful opportunity arises but you have to move and move now!
Instead of homeschooling, you’re packing and preparing to move across the county.
Sometimes the crisis is small. The kitchen sink is plugged. The toilet overflows. You need to fix the plumbing in your house now. It won’t wait until the weekend.
Deal with the crisis and then return to your normal homeschool plans.
At times you put the list ahead of the needs of your children. This shows up when you insist on doing the next thing despite the fact your child is struggling.
Or your teenager has a broken heart.
It’s time to put down the list and listen to your child.
A friend calls upset because there’s been a death in the family.
While I am a firm believer in diligence, and that consistency is mandatory for homeschooling, at the same time you need to be flexible. Respond to the needs of the people around you and move accordingly.
Always keep in mind that homeschooling and life is a compromise between the plans that keep you on track and the relationships those plans serve.
Your homeschool plans are there to serve your family, not your family serving the plans.
Sit down and adjust the plans as needed.
Homeschool Breaks: How to Restart
One of the big mistakes you can make is dropping your plans and not picking them up again for the rest of the school year.
Science doesn’t get done. History books gather dust on the shelf. Art supplies languish unused on the shelf.
It’s a homeschool mom’s nightmare! So the first thing I suggest is to include green, yellow, and red days in your homeschool plans.
Green, Yellow, and Red Days
Have you ever heard of green, yellow and red days? The idea is simple.
A green day is a normal day.
Everything is running smoothly with the normal chaos. The family is healthy. Nothing unexpected happens. You can enjoy your normal homeschool routine.
A yellow day is a slow day.
This is a day when life is stormy. A child may be sick. Your family may be dropping in. It’s a day when you can still get some of the homeschooling done, but not your normal routine.
A red day is a stop day.
All the kids are sick with the stomach flu. An awesome field trip came up, but it requires leaving the house at 7 am in the morning. Essentially, a red day is a day no homeschooling is going to happen.
As you make your homeschool plans, don’t just plan for green days, those normal homeschool days when everything is running smoothly.
Also, make plans for yellow days.
If life gets crazy, what is a minimal homeschool day for your family? What must you do to keep the homeschool moving forward?
For my family, in a pinch, we’ll drop down to math and Latin or math and phonics.
Math, well math is math. It’s the ultimate in skill subjects and I’ve never been able to condense two days into one. I like to keep math going unless we’re on summer break.
Latin and phonics are the same way. The kids learning to read do not study Latin. But they’re not up to reading independently. Those who are reading well study Latin. And Latin is like math. It requires daily practice. Even if we only do a half lesson a day, the kids are better off not dropping Latin.
Some families drop down to just morning time but skip the independent work. Morning time is when they meet to study history, science, art, memorization, math, and more. Morning time can include most of the family’s studies.
You need to figure out your family’s needs on a yellow day and plan from there.
Establish guidelines for a red day.
What type of crisis requires a full stop of the homeschool versus simply running a yellow day and calling it good.
Homeschooling through a crisis is easier when you’ve established guidelines and plans for green, yellow, and red days.
Establish a Time to Restart the Homeschool
A second trick I’ve used over the years is to pencil in a date to restart the homeschool after a spontaneous vacation. I don’t bother if we’ve only taken one day off. But sometimes one day leads to two, to three, and the next thing I know, it’s been two weeks since we’ve homeschooled.
Vacations are nice. But there’s a time for all good things to come to an end.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, establish a time to restart the full homeschool. A time to pick up the plans and begin diligently working through your homeschool again.
I usually pick a Monday because I love restarting school at the start of the week.
But the specific day doesn’t matter.
Simply pick a day to restart the homeschool and start working through your plans again.
Just Get Rolling
You don’t need to wait for the perfect day to pick up homeschooling again. The best solution may be to simply get started.
Don’t worry about having a perfect homeschool day. Don’t worry about getting everything done.
Just complete the first subject in your plans.
Often the biggest hurdle is getting started. Once started, the rest of the homeschool will fall into place.
So just concentrate on getting the homeschool rolling again.
Remember, homeschooling requires flexibility and diligence.
The flexibility to take advantage of the unique opportunities coming your way and enjoy a homeschool break. And the discipline to return to the normal homeschool routine afterward.