Taking time off from school.

Of course homeschoolers need time off from school just like schooled kids. Although I’m a fan of the notion that the “learning never stops,” kids of all ages need big blocks of free time in which they learn in their own way through play and socialization.

When we started homeschooling I assumed that we would be able to take time off whenever we wanted. We would schedule our own vacation time and not be limited to when schools are closed. And this is true, but at the same time, sometimes there is pressure for me to allow time off when PS kids are out of school. I manage to buck that trend a bit. Snow days are school days for us; at least until it stops snowing and the sledding can began. We ignore minor holidays and teacher development days. This year we extended winter break to a full two weeks. But when it comes down to it, unless we have specific travel plans, we are here during school vacation weeks and it is nearly impossible to continue to do our lessons. Certainly we could do it, but I would constantly be faced with EJ pushing back, longing to play, ringing doorbells and phone calls from his friends inviting him to play. The work we miss just isn’t worth fretting over when compared to what they get from spending more time with their friends.

Homeschooled kids as a group are just as well socialized as kids that go to school, but that doesn’t mean that its easy to meet friends to just hang out with and socialize. We moved here last August knowing not a soul, and as new homeschoolers to boot. I had no idea how the kids were going to find friends. We dutifully joined a homeschool group, but except for one family, that hasn’t clicked at all for us. Besides, nothing beats having neighborhood friends—no arranging play dates, dropping them off, picking them up—instead, they want to play, they make the arrangements and then walk or bike down the street. We are very fortunate to have rented a place that just happened to be in a great neighborhood and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But it means that my kids are almost hyper-aware of what time the other kids get home from school. When they have piano, or Chinese, or soccer. And, when they have vacation.

In the end though, I think taking time off when school is out will work for us. It forces me to remember to take a week off periodically, which I might otherwise not schedule in, and the kids are extending the friendships they’ve formed here in the neighborhood. We haven’t taken any family vacations this year for various reasons but I suspect there will come a time when our family vacations will be in addition to time off when the schools are closed.

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