I never really like answering the typical “so the schools are on holiday/ break next week are you also on holiday?” Normally I just say “No we don’t follow school schedules” and leave it as that, because I often don’t feel like getting into a long discussion about how we take breaks and what having a break means for us. (And no I am NOT being horrible it is just sometimes it is easier to give a quick answer and move on then try and stand in the middle of the shop explaining how it works.)
For me there is a difference between “school activities” and “learning”. So yes sometimes we have a break from school type activities but in all honesty we don’t have a break from learning. For me, typical school activities would normally be workbooks, working through written Maths (and I inserted written as I am not including the Maths you do in everyday life), completing English Grammar exercises – those type of activities fall under my umbrella of the typical school activities that we do.
But then there is Learning. Learning for me, is far broader and a lot of the learning that happens is driven by the kids. Learning includes reading, watching programs, going to an exhibition, trying something yourself and even sometimes failing (last week my daughter tried a new recipe that was a complete failure but she tried something new and afterwards she figured out why it failed). Learning takes on lots of different forms for different kids. Sometimes it is very topic specific. So in our house my son is always learning about animals and dinosaurs, independently and my daughter is always learning about History. They drive that, they create their own projects relating to that and I often don’t get involved unless they come to check some spelling, format, or need me to help them find something. I have books and books that they have filled with their projects – yes there are errors and No I don’t go through and correct the errors – I want them to keep enjoying their projects and me going and correcting every little thing is not going to encourage that. So learning happens regardless of me declaring we are having a break for a week. That is NOT going to stop either kid from doing more research on one of their topics.
I have said before we don’t follow school schedules so why are we having a slow week next week – it is just a total coincidence that our week’s break is the same as the local half term. Normally I try and avoid that timing because half term or holidays means everywhere is crammed and busy so really not the best time to go out exploring when we could go at a quieter time. But next week we are having a slow week because I am tired, mentally tired. I am tired because home education is a big responsibility and I take it seriously. I spend a lot of time thinking about what we are doing, how we are doing, if we need to change anything, I spend ages researching and reading up topics so I can assist the kids. Home education is not sometime I take lightly I put everything into it. So yes at times I feel exhausted, like I need to just take a breath and read a book for myself or paint a picture just because. And NO me admitting that I need a break every once in a while is NOT me saying that is NOT working. Because it is working. I still know this is the right journey for my kids, in fact I am even more convinced than ever that this is an amazing opportunity for the kids. I think home educated kids are given a gift and I will work my butt off making sure mine get the most out of this experience.
For me a slow week / a week’s break means no typical school activities – no written Maths, no written English grammar or workbooks. We will read (kids to themselves, me to myself and us altogether), we will work on art projects (I assume this will happen because I want to do a painting and if I start painting the kids always end up joining me), we will bake, we will watch some new documentaries (my daughter has two History ones that she wants to get into), my son will work on his latest animal book (he has created 19 new animals all of which need diagrams and fact pages written about them – his own project) and we will see some friends.
So yes we are having a break next week but No the learning will not stop.