Here we are, the week before Thanksgiving! I don’t know about you, but I am just about ready for a homeschooling break!
Homeschooling is really great because we have the opportunity to make our own schedule. We don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing.
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 it out two years ago. Of course Emma was just 5 at that time, and we weren’t doing a ton of school every day (actually, at 7, we are still quite relaxed). I enjoyed it immensely, and I know that the kids did as well.
It gave us time to do the messy crafts and 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.
Last year, I knew again that I wanted to take a chunk of time off, but this time it was because I was having a baby. Again, we started our school year early because of it. We needed that time as a family to become acclimated to a new baby in the home, and also for this mama to recuperate from a caesarean.
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, this year I had to spend a little more time planning because of the fact that we are reporting to the state this year, whereas in past years Emma was not old enough for me to worry about it.
We did start homeschooling the first week in August this year, 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 Emma.
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 and co-op etc., it helps.
With Thanksgiving on the calendar this month, and Emma 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), she has been incredibly motivated to move through her school work. Math that was taking over an hour to do is not taking 20 minutes. Writing that was bemoaned before is now done before I even start school. And reading, well, she always does her reading, thankfully she has taken my love for reading and made it her own as well.
Every day Emma knows that she has to complete x number of math pages, do x number of copywork pages. I am totally fine with her going ahead on her work as long as she is understanding it. She is.
With her diligence, and my planning, we will be finished with our first trimester at the end of this week; a few days before I had originally planned!
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?