In my brainstorming, this post was originally titled: holidays/birthdays/moving/family visits/other interruptions.
Interruptions are actually why we started homeschooling in the first place.
Quick recap: the course and nature of my husband’s career field has meant spans of time with out-of-town travel, sometimes extended, sometimes not, often with short notice. We quickly realized when the kids started school, leaving town with them in tow wasn’t an option. After plenty of research, we landed on home-or-wherever-schooling as a solution.
For the first eight or so years, my scheduling rule went something like this: I blocked out a year’s worth of work, and we started at the beginning of the year, and when we finished the work, we were finished for the year. During this time, we started our school years in January. Sometimes we finished at the end of October, sometimes late November. We probably could have finished sooner, but I simply wouldn’t “do school” during certain occasions. These include:
- Sundays (*I* don’t do school on Sunday)
- Usually Saturdays (*I* don’t do school on Saturday)
- Birthdays (*I* don’t do school on birthdays)
- Vacations (*I* don’t do school on vacation)
- Project Days. We haven’t had regularly scheduled project days for a while. To be honest, I don’t schedule these unless we are in a long spate of no travel. But when we do schedule them, it works great. Basically, the agreement is to squash five days’ work into four, then day five is a project day. We build, stitch, create, bake, paint… It’s all very constructive and creative (and messy). These days often pair very well with smaller field trip days. They do not, in our house, pair well with book work. 😛
- Some travel days (to be honest, it depends on how disruptive the travel is. Book work can be a blessing during an eight hour drive; not so much if you’re driving fewer hours but navigating a strange city, trying to find your hotel, get checked in)
- Most field trip days (in our home city or away)
- Family visits. We don’t get many of these, because most of our extended family live hundreds to thousands of miles away. For that simple reason, when we are having a visit, our time is all about the visit. School can wait.
- Days off. This one is a little more complicated. It’s been easier to identify when my husband has worked in an office-not-at-home. If he has the day off, well, it just makes sense for the kids to have the day off. From late 2012 through early 2014, he worked from home, and quite the opposite happened. Because he worked through many bank holidays… so did we. We “missed” many days off that year, because we (all) were focused on the work, not an external, arbitrary calendar. My husband began working at home again earlier this year, and so far, I’m seeing the same pattern.
I call these “interruptions” really being tongue-in-cheek. The thing is, these days are often the days when I see our kids applying knowledge and skills they’ve learned, or interpreting information they’ve acquired. They make judgments about what’s appropriate and relevant, and incorporate these ideas into their work. It’s the sort of assessment feedback you just can’t get from a numerical, statistical score on a written test. It’s performance; it’s production. They are not truly interruptions… even though the surface appearance may indicate so.
Although we’ve altered our school year since our last inter-state move, this way of handling “interruptions” has continue to work well for us. We work with focus and determination, and when we get interrupted… we’re ready to make the most of it.