On Homeschooling and Flexibility

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Happy First Day of School!

I know that a great many of you are having your first day of school after Christmas break today. We were supposed to be having our first day back. Then, last week, the opportunity arose for Brian to take this week off work, so we’re taking off to enjoy the week with him.

Does that mess up my pretty little schedule? Why, yes it does.

Does it make a little portion of my brain scream, “Are you crazy? You took off the whole month of December! Your kids aren’t going to remember anything!”? Um, yeah. A little bit.

You know what, though. Spending a week off with Dad is more important than pretty schedules and a little extra time spent in review. It’s much-needed family time that we don’t get often. If we’d known about it earlier, I’d have planned a little better, but we didn’t and it’s an opportunity I don’t want to pass up.

Shortly after the decision was made to take off another week, I got a text. It was from a friend wanting to know if we wanted to meet for an afternoon of bowling the following week – what will be our second day of school after a long break. There was a time when I would have said no just because it’s the second day of school and we need to hit the academics hard and heavy.

Now, though, I realize that it’s just as important for my kids to have time forging relationships. They need time with friends in addition to academics and the fact is sometimes having a little fun thrown in is a good way to ease back into the regular routine of school after a break.

Even the public school system recognizes that. My daughter has to work on Tuesday morning this week because there is a school bringing about 400 kids in for a field trip to see a movie. On their second day back to school after a long break. (Well, except now they’re not since all the local schools just got canceled due to inclement weather.) There’s a reason why there’s a saying about “all work and no play…”

Did I ever tell you about the time when Brianna was still in public school and I checked her out early one Tuesday? See, some friends and I met every week for a Bible study. That week, all the other kids were going to be there. One friend homeschooled, so her kids were always there, but the other kids went to school in a different county and they were all off that week.

I knew Brianna would love to hang out with these friends that she saw only rarely, so, feeling like some crazy kind of rebel, I checked her out and took her with me. I was the coolest mom ever.

Kids are like adults – sometimes they just need a break from academics and routine. Sometimes they even need a break right after a break.

Don’t misunderstand me. Abusing the flexibility of homeschooling is doing a grave disservice to your kids. They need routine, academics, and the best education you can provide them. But never allowing for any flexibility is doing them a disservice, too.  I used to be that mom. Now I realize that everybody benefits from a little flexibility. The math books will still be here next week, but Dad won’t. (Well, not until he gets off work, anyway.)

Plus, there is the fact that we’re making some changes to our curriculum (more on that soon) and the books I need for planning aren’t going to arrive until this evening. See? I’d have been scrambling for what to do today anyway.

So, I hope all of you who are back to school today are having a great day. We’re enjoying some family time!


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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Kris, I felt freed up to take December off after reading your post about a long break to enjoy the Holidays. We have had the BEST time with family this month, relaxing, celebrating, and working around the house. Thanks for being an anchor for this new HS Mom…it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘should dos’. Now we are refreshed and ready to get going, excited about our learning in 2014!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! I know long breaks don’t work for everyone – lots of kids do much better staying in their normal routine – but they have been so helpful for us. Like you said, we come back refreshed and ready to get started.

  2. I LOVE this! We had a year when Dad was home all the time. It was a constant struggle between letting us be a family (because who ever gets a chance like this) and actually getting school done. But, that was the best year ever.

  3. Thank you! I really needed this encouragement today because I let the kids sleep late because we had a late night out last night. Then, they woke up to find the first flurries of the year. Then, it was lunch time, and now the preschoolers want baths. Obviously,we’re not going to get everything on my to-do list done today. I feel grateful that co-op will force us into a normal schedule tomorrow because starting back from the holidays is hard 🙂

  4. I know what you mean about flexibility. That’s why its so hard for me to comprehend when people ask me if I like homeschooling the kids while working. It’s because I homeschool that I’m able to work their learning around my work schedule. If they were in Kindergarten through 3rd grade it would’ve been a real challenge but now that they are older and love the flexibility we all enjoy it.

  5. My New Year back to school week is starting a little less…nicely. My van died last night while taking my firefighter sons to a call. I hadn’t been feeling well to begin with (thanks to the Eldest’s lovely cold he felt he needed to share!), and I woke up this morning with a stress stomachache on top of the cold. We’ve really been needing a library trip to renew books and check out some others, but I felt like I couldn’t “justify” it this week. Yeah. We’re leaving shortly to pick up one son from VoTech and then do some library time. *sigh* I feel better already.

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