Just like break time is needed in a game of tag or soccer, break time is also needed in homeschooling. We usually do school for 4 weeks or so at a time and then take a few days off, but Winter break is a time that both the kids and I look forward to. Why? Because it gives us a chance to rest, regroup and rekindle our homeschool. If you follow a year round schedule, this season may be your ending of the school year. If you follow a traditional schedule, you have made it to the halfway point. Whichever one fits you, here are some tips for getting the most out of your break.
Rest - take time to rest. Don’t look at that lesson plan, don’t think about the school work ahead, just rest. This break time isn’t just for the kids, it’s for the teachers too. Give yourself some time off and you won’t feel frazzled when break time is over and...tag! You’re it! After you’ve unwound for a few days with a good book or some time with friends, spend some time making homemade Christmas gifts or doing crafts with the kids. Get together with neighbors for a caroling session or have an afternoon hot cocoa break with all the fixings. Do some fun things that - A: aren’t school related and B: don’t stress you out. Take advantage of your rest time whether that looks like days cuddled up on the sofa with a good book or taking your family to Holiday outings.
Regroup - before the break is over take the time to look over your schooling. Are there things that worked for you that you want to keep in your schedule? Are there things that looked great on paper, but in reality never worked? Have a pile of art work to sift through? English papers to grade? Let the kids pick out a few pictures to send to Grandma and make a cheap portfolio by stapling two pieces of posterboard together. Get a jump on grading by taking your papers, sans kids, to a coffee shop. Have a drink and grade away for a few hours (don’t have a babysitter? Ask some friends if they want to rotate sitting for a few hours so some of you can get together.) Look over your curriculum before starting the new year, do you like it? Is it meeting your child’s needs? The new year might bring some changes in how you homeschool.
Rekindle - have you lost your pep and pizazz in your homeschool? Maybe you need to rekindle that spark that drove you to learn at home. What do you like most about homeschooling? For us it’s the fact that we finish school by 12 so that we can go do fun things like go to the zoo, make art, play at the park and so on. When I’m feeling stressed about school (are my kids learning anything? How am I going to teach Calculus? What if we aren’t done with grammar by March?) I stop and take a breath and think about all the things that are going right, all the reasons that we homeschool and why I still think it’s the best choice for my family. Maybe what you need is a list, a list of reasons that you homeschool - specifically written for your family. Then, when you start to feel blue or down you can find your spark again.
Use your break time wisely and you and your children will start back with a better attitude and a new purpose in teaching and learning. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that break time isn’t something worth doing. It is not a waste of time to take off and rest from school and teaching. It is good advice to take a break and regroup your homeschool so that you start the new year off right. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, a break is just the thing you need, time off to find that spark of joy that rekindles your whole homeschooling outlook.