Even Homeschoolers Need Mental Health Days

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Even Homeschoolers Need Mental Health Days.  When we first start homeschooling, we feel so much pressure! There are so many wonderful opportunities! But there’s the curriculum. Oh, the curriculum, that somehow needs to be “checked off,” and how are going to get it all done?

Plus, we see how much homework the neighbor’s kids are doing, our childhood friend’s amazing kids who are all over Facebook with their accomplishments, and… our kids can’t be left behind, can they? 

Routines are good and healthy. Schedules work… for some families. But everyone. Yes, everyone, needs a mental health day every once in a while.

Why do we need mental health days? I’ll tell you!

Written by Heather Pleier of Wonderschooling.

Stress is real, even for kids.

Kids need these days as much as parents do, if not more so, when the stress of life is big.

Maybe the night’s sleep was terrible. 

Maybe a relative has been sick or gone for a while.

Maybe we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and everything has been turned on its head.

Maybe it’s an issue with a friend, or an emotional growth spurt, or just an absolutely gorgeous day outside that we need to go enjoy.

Is it ok to take a day off now and then?

Yes! You can take the day off. You should take the day off!

Here’s the beauty in it all: we don’t need to ask for permission. Just take the day off. If you need it. If your kids need it. If what they really need is to go out for breakfast and play at the park or to cuddle on the couch and watch cartoons all day, we can do that. 

Cancel that co-op and stay home. It’s ok. Do what you need to do for your family, for yourself. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to set your own schedule, so take advantage of that! Block off a vacation day… or even two!

There’s probably still learning happening.

On beautiful weather days, our family’s learning doesn’t look very traditional. This morning, we were at the beach with friends, and the only agenda was to be there and be together. We built in the sand, explored the beach, looked closely at dried seaweed, flew a $1 Styrofoam plane I’d brought with us, which caused us to talk about wind currents, lift, angles, and more. And then the friend’s daughter discovered whelk egg cases, dried up on the beach. It was beautiful. She was curious and ready to learn, and she learned so much in that 5 minute conversation, all because she was relaxed, curious, and ready.

My six-year-olds also skip counted by tens in the car, for fun, by themselves, without prompting. They were relaxed and talking about things they were thinking about. Just like our muscles need “rest days” from strenuous exercise, our brains need time to breathe, too. To organize and synthesize everything that’s taken in, and brains function best when they’re not inundated with stress hormones

The truth is that we learn better, are healthier and more motivated, that we retain what we learn, only when we’re mentally in a healthy place. Learning under stress is haphazard at best and dangerous at worst, as our kids associate learning with stress (negative stress – distress), which can have negative impacts for the rest of their lives. 

So when things are “too much” – kids are melting down, there’s yelling going on, there’s more “fight” than “connection” in your day, consider taking a mental health day or two. Take some time to breathe, to enjoy the people you’re with, and see if it doesn’t just make a difference.

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Heather Pleier is a 2nd generation homeschooler raising three curious, creative, out-of-the-box kids on Long Island. They are eclectic game/interest-led/unschooly homeschoolers who dive deep into various interests and celebrate the freedom that homeschooling brings. Her passions include great children’s literature, dark chocolate, exploration, and music.  She writes at wonderschooling.net about preserving childhood wonder and curiosity.

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