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Taking off for a few weeks - experiences?


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I replied to someone on another thread who takes off the month in December and starts fresh in January, but I feel like it sidetracks from the thread, so I'm starting another one.

 

Has anyone done this and how has your experience been?

 

Do you kids forget anything they have learned?

 

Do you do absolutely nothing or do you have a very light schedule?

 

Thanks in advance!

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We take off up to 4 months a year (not kidding; and yes, I know that's a third of a year!) - over 2 months of that is a summer break that the girls spend in Italy, with zero school; and a month a half or even two months a year are the various breaks we have, mainly to travel (we LOVE traveling, and have some fixed destinations every year to visit family and friends, as well as some random destinations in the US or abroad every year).

 

Well... they do forget. Of course they do. But there are various kinds of learning, academic learning being only one component. I believe it's incredibly valuable for them to grow up traveling, meeting various people, staying in different places, seeing alive things they're studying about (for example every year they're in Rome for a while and every year they spend a few days in Jerusalem, so they can literally grow up feeling those places and having a connection with them, those places not being a dry book pages for them, but lively places they've experienced with all five senses), broadening their horizons... Even though we're very academically-oriented family, and have a strict schedule for the part of the year we school (we do 6 days a week as a rule and above grade level in most subjects), I'm always going to prefer an experience to a dry knowledge. Book knowledge is something they can catch up on whenever they feel like, experience... not really.

 

Am I reluctant to take off some time to be at home? Absolutely, a waste of time. At most we take off a day to have a "mental health" day and a rest, but taking off a week and staying at home would be just silly for us. But if I'm taking off the time to travel with them, to learn informally, to take them somewhere and have great time, I'm never sorry for that. :)

 

I also notice that, regardless of the "loss" in pages, they gain so much from the time spent somewhere else. We do absolutely nothing when we're off, at least regarding formal work, and it does take them a few days to get back to track when we're back, but it's well worth it.

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Am I reluctant to take off some time to be at home? Absolutely, a waste of time. At most we take off a day to have a "mental health" day and a rest, but taking off a week and staying at home would be just silly for us.

 

When the boys were younger, they almost never had time off when they weren't travelling because we lived overseas and took advantage of the opportunities.

 

Whilst I still value the travelling, I've come round to the idea that children need time to do nothing on their own turf: to dream, muck about, watch bugs. Weekends just aren't long enough to get into this mode. I don't regret the travelling we did, but I wish that we had taken that do-nothing time earlier too. We took six weeks off at home last summer and I really saw the boys relax and grow in that time.

 

Laura

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Has anyone done this and how has your experience been?

 

We have a wind things down after Halloween and then go into our light schedule after Thanksgiving. This schedule consists of:

 

math

reading

a Christmas topic (this year we are doing The Polar Express, Antarctica and penguins)

 

Then we take off 2-3 weeks over Christmas where we do no school at all. The break actually refreshes us. The children generally don't forget any thing but when we come back to work again they are ready for it and do really well for several months before we start hitting walls again and need a break in May which is again 3-4 weeks.

 

:001_smile:

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Most of the time when we've "taken off" we're either travelling, working on the garden outside, or they have reading/projects that they're working on in a more free-form matter. I consider that school of a different sort. We'll stop school December 18th for 2 1/2 weeks, and they will still have a read-aloud time in the evening and I've assigned several books for each to read. Part of it though is that there's not much to do outside unless it snows, and I'll be having knee surgery just before Christmas. So they need something to do other than kick around the house, although they're pretty good about occupying themselves.

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We will be stopping our formal schedule to start a Christmas schedule shortly. Next week, dd dances the Nutcracker 2 work days. That only gives us 3 full days of teaching anyway. I will wrap up lessons we are in the middle of doing so no lose ends are left hanging at the end of next week. Then the rest of the time until Christmas will be spent doing labs, arts, reading, and home ec. I've done an intensive home ec study this year. With all the Christmas baking, we will put that to good use. Dc will get to do things we don't normally do during the year (steam puddings, make fruit cakes, dip chocolates, pipe frosting on cookies, make truffles, candies, cheese balls, etc). We also have various art projects and a couple science labs to do. My reading schedule will shift to holiday theme reading. Also, we will continue logic puzzles (because they are fun). So, "formal" school (math, history program, spelling, writing, grammar, etc) will be set aside for a couple weeks. But, art, music (violin Christmas concert), dance (Nutcracker), home ec, science labs, art, reading, and logic will continue. And it will be great fun!

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Well... we took an entire month off around the time the baby was born. Other than that we usually don't take longer than a week. Except this year around Christmas DH is taking the 3 school aged out of town for 2 weeks.

 

I hate taking too much time off because it's so hard to get back into the swing of things. Most of our breaks (since we school year round) consist of 3 and 4 day weeks.

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In all of our previous years, we have taken off the second half of October, plus all of November and December. This is because we don't do much in the summer so we can school all through the summer. The fall is our time to play.

 

During these months off, they still read a lot and we did seasonal/holiday activities, but not much else.

 

We're not taking that much time off this anymore, though. They're getting older and we've got more work to do. We had one scheduled week off for a fall break and two days for Thanksgiving. We also had an unscheduled week off due to sickness. We'll take a week or so off around Christmas, too, and maybe a week-long spring break.

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We usually take off most of the month of December and it has been a great break for us. We do constructive things, but just give up the bookwork.

 

I think in the elementary years theres no problem for most to get back on track, but now that we're in middle school I don't feel that I can be as flexible--at least with math.

 

For us, I don't want Christmas to be stressful--I want to create great memories!!!! Thats tough for me to do when I'm in school burn-out, which usually happens this time of year for us.

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The longest complete breaks we've taken have been one month each fall for a beach trip. We bring along some "fun" worksheet type review things (note reading, verious weird math things such as folding solids, roman numerals, graphing pussles, etc), and various nature references. All schooling is optional during the holiday. They do very little but having a few things to do on a rainy day is a nice diversion.

 

The break is a complete God send for us. Love, love, love it.

 

One thing I do find useful to maintain/practice over the break is math techniques. Some years I take a long a "crib sheet" of Singapore mental math techniques so I could give them drill problems and/or games to practice those skills. Even 20 min a couple times a week is enough to solidify/reinforce skills already-learned-but-not-second-nature-yet. That makes it pleasurable to take up math again after the break b/c it has become easier.

 

The other things I like to do are prepare a stack of materials (books to read, review worksheets, etc) that I feel would be helpful for dc to do. I have them in a stack and if I find time to read. . . then we read. . . or if the kids are bored. . . I have a standing offer of a piece of candy for each worksheet completed. . . They like it. It's fun.

 

The most important thing for me is that I officially DO NOT CARE what they complete. I just want a break from bossing them around. For that one month, all I demand chore/work wise is to carry your own weight with laundry/dishes/sweeping up. That's it. *I* need the break as much as they do!

 

FWIW, my dc have never seemed to "lose" anything over the month. Seems to me that they come back refreshed and schooling goes smoother than ever.

 

HTH

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Does this vary by age at all do you think?

 

I mean, a 4th grader in general is much more used to the idea that they "do school" than a K'er or 1st grader.

 

I'm just asking because this morning was horrible convincing ds to get back in the swing of things after taking last week off, and we were in a fantastic groove before vacation. There were huge fits about why he had to do any work at all and we did a very light day (games only for phonics, etc.). I'm guessing it was similar to the way dh felt about returning to work too :lol:.

 

Ds's reading progress was the same, but he really lost the math concept we were working on and it was only a week. I'm shuddering thinking about Christmas break and wondering if we should do some math on the days we don't have family plans. Anyone else find age to matter in your plans for weeks off?

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I've come round to the idea that children need time to do nothing on their own turf: to dream, muck about, watch bugs.

 

:iagree:We take around 10 weeks off in the summer, and 2-3 weeks off around Christmas and a week or so in the spring, plus occasional long weekends. When these times are spent at home I see my kids' imagination in action. There are forts built, games created, and I think this time really cements their relationships with their siblings. I so enjoy sitting with my coffee on the deck or the beach and listening to them play. I am a big believer in down time.

 

During the summer we do short math lessons every day (20-30 mins) and they all read for fun each day but that is the extent of our school work.

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Does this vary by age at all do you think?

 

I mean, a 4th grader in general is much more used to the idea that they "do school" than a K'er or 1st grader.

 

I'm just asking because this morning was horrible convincing ds to get back in the swing of things after taking last week off, and we were in a fantastic groove before vacation. There were huge fits about why he had to do any work at all and we did a very light day (games only for phonics, etc.). I'm guessing it was similar to the way dh felt about returning to work too :lol:.

 

Ds's reading progress was the same, but he really lost the math concept we were working on and it was only a week. I'm shuddering thinking about Christmas break and wondering if we should do some math on the days we don't have family plans. Anyone else find age to matter in your plans for weeks off?

 

My oldest is 6yo. I rarely take a whole week w/o any math or phonics. When we are really busy (moving, holidays, etc) I scale way back and only give review work..preferably independant work. 30min and he's done.

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Thanks for the feedback and sharing your experiences.

 

This stood out to me as the best for our situation:

 

Has anyone done this and how has your experience been?

 

We have a wind things down after Halloween and then go into our light schedule after Thanksgiving. This schedule consists of:

 

math

reading

a Christmas topic (this year we are doing The Polar Express, Antarctica and penguins)

 

Then we take off 2-3 weeks over Christmas where we do no school at all. The break actually refreshes us. The children generally don't forget any thing but when we come back to work again they are ready for it and do really well for several months before we start hitting walls again and need a break in May which is again 3-4 weeks.

 

:001_smile:

 

I think we will take the week of Christmas and the following week after it off. I'm hoping it will refresh us, as well.

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