When Scheduled Breaks Aren’t Enough
The schedule is in place. You know how many days are required, and you have scheduled in breaks for your own sanity. Every detail is worked out perfectly to ensure that the last day of school happens before summer derails all motivation. But what happens when you need an unscheduled break? An unexpected interruption, the flu, a crisis, or simply the need for some time off can creep into the nicely-planned school year at any time.
Unfortunately, no school plan is fool proof. While many families have to deal with the interruption of illness, a move, or some other unexpected crisis, sometimes it just comes down to the realization that you need a break – just because! How can we take those extra little breaks without losing all hope of ever finishing the school year?
Points to Ponder
So, is it okay to take a break? And if so, how can you be sure to to be diligent with breaks? Here are a few tips.
Plan Your Breaks
Even after you work in the breaks you know you will be taking, work in some extra wiggle room by leaving an additional week or two of time for unexpected days off. Consider these your flex days – a limited number of days that you can simply claim for mental health purposes.
Meanwhile, rethink your idea of field trips. Choose fun places that you want to go and plan a field trip for a time when that destination somewhat coordinates with your topic of study. You’ll still be learning and contributing to your number of school days, if needed, but it will be a break from the norm.
Sometimes one of the easiest ways to take a break is to look at an upcoming week of planning and cut out a few extra practices or reduce a lesson length. Does your child really need that extra page of sentence structure review? Can two math lessons be combined into one? Is that history writing assignment truly necessary? While on an ongoing basis those activities are useful and important, it really won’t hurt to work half the problems instead of all of them now and then, especially if it’s a strong subject or topic for your child.
Don't Do It All
Here’s a news flash many of us need to remember: we do not have to finish every single assignment. It really will be okay! In fact, many textbooks and lesson plans build in extra review lessons, especially at the beginning and end of the year, with the expectation that the book will not be completed. Take advantage of those extras.
While we want to be diligent with our children’s education, it really is okay to take a much-needed break, even if it means a full week of material has to be cut somewhere along the way.
Living books, books that use story or biographical narrative to bring people and events to life, are great in more ways than one. Like field trips, living books can often encourage more thorough learning than completing that next lesson. This especially works if you have to be on the road, in the hospital, or in the sick bed. A good story can teach much—sometimes better than those lesson plans! If you just need a day away from the normal routine of school, pick up a favorite (or relevant!) book, curl up on the couch for an hour or so of read-aloud time, then call it a day!
On Their Own
Sometimes it is not the whole family needing the break. Sometimes it’s just Mom! For those days, have an “Independent Day” plan. This will take a little planning ahead, because it will be necessary to teach your children what it means to work independently. Once they are comfortable with independent work, have a system in place that will allow you to quickly alter the plan for the day, choosing and assigning only what your children can either do independently or by helping one another.
Just Take the Break
Ultimately, though, feel free to just take a break. True, you might have to stretch the semester out for a few extra days. Oh well. That’s the beauty of homeschool flexibility. Be a good steward of your time, but realize that stewardship includes rest – regular rest. By taking regular breaks, you teach your children the importance of incorporating rest into their own routines.
A Few More Thoughts
Your body, mind, and emotions – and those of your children – know when a rest is needed. Pay attention to those signals, then find a way to get the needed rest. Your school year will run much more smoothly when you rest diligently!