I see you there, mama. Doing your best to gift your kids a childhood of fun and freedom while instilling a love of learning, helping them find and follow their passions, AND covering the basics they will need to get by in the world. And I see you feeling tired, overwhelmed and frustrated. I see you, mama. And I need you to know that it’s time to take a homeschool break.
Homeschool takes a lot of dedication. We decide to give it a go and then realise what we have actually done is commit ourselves to working in the same job for the next 12 years. More if we are educating multiple children.
It’s a little overwhelming when you look at it like that, isn’t it!
Homeschooling is a job. A really important job. And everyone knows that to be good at your job you need to take some time off.
So just like any other job we might have in our lifetime, it’s important to take a break from homeschooling from time to time. You and your kids need a holiday.
Now I don’t mean a vacation to somewhere exotic (although wouldn’t that be nice!). What I mean is a break from the usual routine. A break from structured learning.
School holidays for homeschoolers.
Even if you have chosen a less structured homeschool style, it’s still important to factor in some downtime. Just a little bit of space where you aren’t on call for projects, running about to homeschool groups and those endless trips to the library.
Homeschool breaks are for every mama.
This article is part of our homeschool challenges series, looking at common issues homeschoolers face and how to overcome these challenges. What is your biggest homeschool challenge?
In This Post:
- why homeschool breaks are important
- signs you need a homeschool break
- signs your kids need a homeschool break
- how to take the break you need
- homeschool scheduling tips to make sure you get regular breaks
Why Homeschool Breaks Are Important
Taking a break allows you time to rest and recover. No matter what job we are in, or how much we may feel like homeschool is a calling and not a job, we still can’t give our best selves when we are tired.
And neither can our kids.
We all need a chance to recharge out batteries. A chance to escape from our day to day, not because our day to day is terrible, but because variety is the spice of life.
And because more sleep and more play is good.
Sometimes it’s nice to just stay home in your pyjamas, watch some T.V., read a good book and eat too much of…well, of anything really (I’m going with chocolate, my son is going with crusty loaves of bread with lashings of butter).
Taking a break is good for the soul.
Taking a break can improve your homeschool. It gives you time to re-evaluate and make changes to the way you are doing things. Maybe because when you step back you see something isn’t really working.
Or maybe just because you want to.
Taking a homeschool break gives you the chance to be ‘just mum’ for a while, without also having to be their teacher. This helps build connection and stops resentment from building up. Yours or theirs!
Taking a break gives our kids a chance to be just our kids without being our student. They need that too.
Especially because maths lessons don’t always foster loving feelings. On either side 😉
Taking a break gives you the freedom to let go a bit.
It gives our kids the freedom to go off on those learning tangents they didn’t get time for during formal term time. And without having to produce something to prove that learning that so many states require of our homeschool kids.
There are lots of great reasons for taking a little time off.
And maybe even a little time apart sometimes…
Signs You Need To Take A Homeschool Break
Sometimes it’s hard to know we are needing a break. The overwhelm and the frustration sneak up on us.
You can be pretty sure it’s time for a break when it’s you throwing a tantrum over the maths lesson and not your child.
You can also be fairly sure it’s time for a break when you are dreading lesson time each day. Or the next library trip. Or having to bake one.more.batch of brownies/cookies/muffins with your kids.
It’s also pretty safe to say you need a break when you would rather be anywhere else in the world. Or you would rather be cleaning the toilet than reading the next chapter in your read-aloud.
Yes, there are some pretty clear signs to watch out for.
Signs you need a break could include
- feeling more disorganised than usual
- feeling tired and cranky more often
- feeling angry or resentful of your kids/lesson time/the random homeschooler with the perfect schoolroom on Insta/your spouse for getting to leave the house daily
- you are second guessing every choice you have made in your homeschool this year
- you keep daydreaming of taking a break
Everyone needs to take a break from time to time. Sometimes we just need an hour alone and other times we need a good month off from the usual homeschool routine.
Either way, there is no shame in taking a break.
In fact, it’s a good way to model self-awareness and self-care for your children!
Signs Your Kids Are Ready For A Homeschool Break
The signs your child is ready for a break can be really similar to the signs you need some time off. Just in a pint-sized package.
If you are noticing any of the following, consider that it might be time for a homeschool holiday:
- excessive complaining about lesson time, the activities on offer or the books you are reading
- making excuses for why they just need 5 more minutes before they start for the day
- not wanting to go to the homeschool group activities and outings they normally look forward to
- becoming frustrated and angry during lesson time
- making more mistakes than usual or becoming more careless with their work
Sometimes these can indicate a problem with your homeschool approach or with the materials/curriculum you have chosen. It can be good to step away, have some fun and when everyone is calm and happy, talk about what is happening in your homeschool.
Communication is key!
Re-evaluation is a good thing.
Other times it can mean your child is feeling burnt out. A nice, relaxing homeschool break is in order.
Of course, changes in your child’s behaviour, or this being an ongoing pattern of behaviour, can indicate another issue. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or a professional opinion if you feel it is warranted.
Trust your intuition, mama!
How To Take A Homeschool Break
Breaks can be big or they can be small.
Sometimes a break can mean remembering to include ‘recess’ in your day and having a little quiet time in the afternoon.
Those breaks are pretty easy to include in your schedule.
What we don’t always remember to schedule in is a nice long homeschool holiday. And we don’t need to reserve these for summer!
In Australia, following the school terms can help you get regular breaks throughout the year. Roughly every ten weeks, give or take, we get two weeks off. And then a nice six week break over the summer.
Built in homeschool breaks!
But what if you don’t live in Australia?
Adopting a similar schedule for your year can be really helpful. If you live in a country where schools take a 2-3 month break over summer, this is often called year round homeschooling.
Some people like to schedule 6 weeks on then a week off and follow this roughly year round. Often with extra days off for birthdays, public holidays, when the weather is just right for being outside, etc.
Others choose to schedule 4 weeks on and then have a week off.
You can choose which works best for you. Or make up a different rotation of your own.
If you are using block scheduling, it feels natural to take a break in between each block. This way you are getting regular breaks without a stop/start feeling disrupting your homeschool flow.
You can see how I plan our year around blocks here.
Another idea is to drop down to ‘part time school’ for a while. This can mean just getting the basics out of the way each morning and then taking the rest of the day off. Or it can mean scheduling a 3 or 4 day week, instead of 5 days.
And there is no rule that says you can’t take a random week off when you need to. Or just because you want to!
You can also use a part time schedule for an extended period of time if that’s what you need to get through.
- how much time do you need off? Is it just a day, a week off or even a month?
- do you have things you need to get done that you can keep and ditch the rest?
- do you need a break from school or a break from each other?
Hear what other mamas have to say about year-round homeschooling over on iHomeschool Network.
Scheduling Tips To Make Sure You Get Regular Homeschool Breaks
If the break you need is a break from each other you can try:
- quiet time each day where everyone goes to their own corner of the house for an hour or whatever time frame works for you
- booking your kids in to drop off programs for an afternoon a week, or for longer periods of time over school holidays
- organise to send your kids to another homeschool mama while you take a day off and then return the favour when she needs it
- spend the day at a playcentre where the kids can go nuts while you make use of the free WiFi to waste a day on Facebook (or you could binge read this blog. Just saying :p )
- send the kids to an aunt/grandmother/best friend’s house for a sleep over to get a weekend off
If it’s just a day off from lessons that is needed, try one of these:
- go outside for the day. It could be an extra day playing with friends or it could just be a day in the garden. Being outside makes cures most ills
- ditch the books and have an art day or a documentary/audio books/reading in comfy armchairs day
- pretend it’s a weekend and everyone can stay in their pjs. The books will be there tomorrow
- get out the board games and the puzzles. Do all those fun things you keep running out of time for with your regular routine
If you need a longer break:
- take a week off. I won’t tell if you don’t 😉
- schedule in regular weeks off for the future
- look at why you and/or your kids are feeling so burnt out and take steps to help prevent in future. This might mean changing your homeschool style, your weekly schedule or your yearly schedule
- when you come back to lessons after an extended break, ease your way in. Jumping back into the schedule you were following when things went awry is a sure way to a rough week for everyone and may leave you right where you started before your homeschool break!
It’s important to prioritise taking breaks when needed. Your mental health, the mental health of your children, and your relationship with each other is so much more important than ticking everything off on a to-do list.
Make time for connection.
Make time for fun.
And make time for some time off.
You and your kids deserve it, mama x