Preparing for a Long Homeschool Break!

One of the best reasons to homeschool is the flexibility.  We love the option to take off days when we need to, and the ability to make up days on the weekends if need be.  This is how homeschooling seamlessly flows into living our lives.

Several years ago I read on a homeschool blog about how the family would be taking the entire month of December off from homeschooling.  I was immediately intrigued.  How exactly did they plan to take an entire month off right in the middle of the school year?!

Well, as we have been homeschooling now for a few years (even if we are still in the very beginning, baby stages) I realized how possible it actually is.

First, for us, we homeschool all year; which makes planning a long break quite a bit easier in my mind.  However, I have read about other families that pretty much follow the regular school calendar and still take off a large chunk of time between Thanksgiving and the New Year; so if you do not school all year, please don’t think you can’t also get a nice break during the holiday season.

We start our new curriculum typically in the summer, this allows us time to get back into the swing of things with homeschooling, and also gives us the opportunity to bank some days (we must keep track of how many days we do school in my state) before other kids go back to school.

When I heard about taking time off during the holiday season, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to plan for in my own homeschooling.  It makes so much sense to me, have a large chunk of time when we are typically busy with so many other obligations. 

We actually tried this for the first time several years ago when Emma was only 5.  Obviously not as much of a difficulty when your child is only in kindergarten.  However, now at 9 we are still working towards the goal of finishing the first half of our year by Thanksgiving.

It gave us time to do the messy crafts that the kids always want to do, without me being as concerned about getting things cleared so we can settle for some writing or formal math practice.  It gave us more time to do Christmas crafts, and to bake more. 

It didn’t mean that we completely stopped learning, we instead were learning different things. 

As I started planning this school year last spring, I realized that I would want to continue this wonderful time of taking between Thanksgiving and the New Year off.  But now that we are reporting to the state, making sure we have a plan in place is very important..

We start homeschooling the first week in August, just getting our feet wet, and for us to get back into the swing of things.

I have my entire school year mapped out in my Erin Condren Teacher Planner.  This helps me to figure out where I need to be, and what I hope to accomplish in the first trimester of our year.  Having that broad plan in front of me allows me to pick and choose what we are doing each day, and it also shows me if we are going to be finished in time for our break. 

It has worked out exceptionally well.  I guess all that time I spent methodically going through everything that I planned to teach really worked!  It is nice when things go the way that you plan them – and it is a rare occurrence for me!

One main factor that has helped me in getting ready for this long homeschooling break is actually my kids.

Each month we create a new monthly calendar.  Emma and Jack both make their own with the days of the week and number it.  Then they write their activities down in it.  Of course I have all of this information in my own calendar, but for them to see it on the fridge, and take the ownership in writing down when they have sports practices, classes and other activities, it helps. 

With Thanksgiving on the calendar, and Emma and Jack knowing that we have the opportunity to have a long homeschool break ahead of us (it isn’t guaranteed, we still need to finish the work before we can take the break), they are incredibly motivated to move through their school work.  

Math that was taking over an hour to do is now taking 20-30 minutes.  Writing that was bemoaned before is now done before I even start school.  And reading, well, she always does her reading, thankfully they have taken my love for reading and made it their own as well.

Everyday they have their list of school to do, and they know that in order to finish by Thanksgiving they need to complete one math lesson, one handwriting page, 2 chapters in their assigned reading books etc.  They are able to work ahead if they feel they are understanding the concepts. 

I am looking forward to having a season of rest, and the ability to get more in depth in planning for our winter term.  It will give us a much needed break from the everyday school, and will give us a little more free time for the activities that are only available to do during the holiday season.

Do you take a long winter break?  Why or why not?  Is it something you have considered, but have shied away from due to the length of time?


  1. It's funny how having a break from school can increase motivation for said school work, ha!
    Coming from only having done/went to public school, being able to move at ones' own pace and take time off when necessary and not when some people in an office somewhere say to makes so much more sense - you have time to focus on the holidays, in this instance, and being able to do other activities.
    Plus, holiday skills are just as important as multiplication or spelling!

  2. I agree with Jessica above - holidays skills are a must, and plenty of learning time baking, budgeting and enjoying is all part of education! Enjoy this well earned break - sounds like everyone has been hard at work!


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