The Conflict–Taking a Break Without Dropping the Ball

“It’s a season.”

I’ve heard these words spoken to many homeschooling moms to encourage them when they are dealing with a difficult time period. I understand the heart behind them. Moms who have been there are trying to encourage a very discouraged sister by telling her to let some things go for a time. You don’t have to put the kids in school every time there is a disaster in your life.

I get that. And for many homeschooling moms, they need to hear it. They need to know that they can back away from formal academics for a few weeks without hurting their kids.

However, some homeschoolers use the “season” mentality as an excuse to not do school for months.

I get it.

That baby just won’t sleep. Mamas get sick, and finances get tight. However, your crazy season should not be a justification for not doing school for long periods of time. Your children deserve a good education. It doesn’t always have to be an amazing education, because sometimes good enough needs to be good enough.

But for heaven’s sake. Just. Do. Something!

It may look different in different seasons. And that’s okay.

You may take a break from textbooks and instead focus on library books, field trips, and educational video games and DVDs.

That’s fine.

However, if in your season of craziness, your children fill their time with nothing but MarioKart, Facebook, and Looney Tunes for weeks, you probably need to figure out a new plan.

There’s nothing wrong with taking time off. But be intentional with your time off. You have to make it up at some point. You can’t take off two months in your normal school year and still be able to take a summer break. If you take off a month at Christmas, you may not need to take a spring break. Look at your schedule and plan your time off so that it is most effective for learning and for resting.

Another thing, when you do take time off, try to fill your children’s time with things of value. Outdoor play, gardening, crafts, puzzles, cooking, writing letters, visiting family. Then hit the books hard (whatever style of homeschooling you do) when you get back from your time off. By keeping the electronic beast at bay when you take a break and by giving your children with brain-boosting activities to fill their time, getting back to a normal routine will be much simpler.

Remember that as Christian homeschooling moms we are stewards of our children’s future. I don’t want my children handicapped by my own lack of discipline. (this is why I tend toward textbooks. I don’t have the discipline to sit down and work out individual lesson plans for my kids. If you’re great at that: WONDERFUL! I wish I could do the same) I know how hard it is to continue working when you’re exhausted, distracted by difficult circumstances, or dealing with some kind of life upheaval. But you can’t just stop for weeks and months. Your kids need the routine of learning and your household needs the rhythm of normal educational opportunities. Additionally, getting too far behind in the middle school and high school years can be quite difficult to make up.

When I am dealing with a chaotic time period in my life, I remind myself that I need to prioritize. Sometimes, the priority is dealing with the chaotic situation. However, when the situation goes on for more than a week or two, I have to figure out how to meet my kids educational needs in the chaos. Sometimes this looks like us doing math, English, and spelling in the car while driving to appointments. Sometimes, this means that my family shifts responsibilities around to make time for schooling at unconventional times of day. Whatever I need to do, I do it.

God has called me into homeschooling. I am not bringing glory to Him when I use life’s circumstances as an excuse to avoid my responsibilities. I won’t bring glory to him by failing to prepare my kids for the future. If God chose to call me to heaven tomorrow and my children had to enter a traditional classroom, would they be prepared? If I haven’t done my job with diligence and faithfulness, I will not be bringing God glory. I will be hurting the cause of Christ because others will judge me by my laziness and the hurt that it would cause my children. Not to mention the hurt that my poor teaching brings to the reputation of those in the homeschooling community.

Are you facing a time of struggle in your life? It will be okay. However, don’t let the circumstances permanently derail you from your normal school routines in the long term. Take stock of what will work with your given situation and figure out a way to learn through the chaos. Don’t beat yourself up over what your children don’t accomplish. But, be sure that you figure out a way for them to learn SOMETHING in this time period.

Matthew 24:44

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

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