Give Yourself a Break! 8 Ways to Regain Enthusiastic Learning

I’m not the kind of person who thinks about taking breaks often enough. When things get difficult, I’d much rather keep on pushing through the pain than to take some time off to rest.

I see the finish line and I don’t want to stop until I bust through the tape. The more tired I feel, the more of an urge I have to double down and increase my speed.

Give Yourself a Break! 8 Ways to Regain Enthusiastic Learning

I do not recommend this approach, by the way. It’s a great way to cause you and your kids to get burned out.

There are several times throughout the year when many homeschool moms are less than enthusiastic about teaching lessons.

The holidays can be an extremely busy time which can make homeschool lessons difficult to keep up with.

For those of us in northern climates, the cold, gloomy winter weather can feel quite oppressive. The kids spend less time outside, so they have a hard time burning off their extra energy, making our homes exponentially louder. And we see sunshine more infrequently, causing us to feel tired. This can also dampen our enthusiasm for learning.

And as we near the end of their homeschool year, this can also be a time when we feel unexcited about continuing to teach lessons.

Whenever we find ourselves feeling this way, we would be wise to give ourselves a break.

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If you don’t give yourself a break every once in a while, you may find that God will impose one on you.

Several years ago, we had this happen to our family. First, we were given the news that my stepmom’s ovarian cancer has spread throughout her body and that she only has a few months to live. In the light of that news, completing a certain amount of schoolwork each week didn’t seem anywhere near as important as being there for my family.

A few days after receiving that news, my boys both came down with the stomach flu. As soon as they got sick, we found ourselves taking a break from ALL schoolwork for the week. It didn’t start out as a relaxing break but it did end up being rejuvenating as we all ended up catching up on our sleep and having a restful week stuck at home.

In retrospect, I wish I had been smart enough to take an intentional break that we could have enjoyed a bit more before God had to force one on us!

Give Yourself a Break! 8 Ways to Regain Enthusiastic Learning

If you find yourself in need of a break, here are 8 ways to regain everyone’s enthusiasm for learning:

1 – Put down the regular books and give a unit study a try.  This is a great way to shake up your regular routine if things are feeling stale.

2 – Let your kids choose something that interests them and help them to do a deep study about that one thing versus being pulled in many directions throughout the day.

3 – Declare a reading day. Let the kids read books that THEY choose for themselves.

4 – Go on a fun field trip. Be sure to get feedback from your kids on where they’d like to go.

5 – Take a day (or a week) off of schoolwork. Let everyone have some time to do whatever they want.

6 – Watch a movie. If you’re really adventurous, you can even watch something that ISN’T educational! LOL

7 – Get together with friends.

8 – Play video games or board games together as a family.

Don’t be afraid to put down the regular books and try some more adventurous learning – or even give formal learning a vacation for a time.

A local college in our area gives their students the month of January off of their regular studies so that they can attend a 3-week lecture series. This break allows the students to become inspired by the speakers as well as to give their brains a break from their rigorous study schedule.

If a college can see the benefit of giving their students time off, certainly us homeschool moms should also be willing to give our younger kiddos occasional breaks now and then.

The next time you or your kids feel drained, try planning a restorative break. Sometimes, just having something to look forward to is enough to help everyone focus on and enjoy their regular studies more.

Question: Do you regularly take breaks? Do you schedule breaks proactively or wait until you can feel that everyone needs a mental health day? Please leave a comment below.

Give Yourself a Break! 8 Ways to Regain Enthusiastic Learning

8 thoughts on “Give Yourself a Break! 8 Ways to Regain Enthusiastic Learning”

  1. When we need a break, I usually don’t take more than a day off from all studies. Sometimes we’ll do a “half day” or two. Since I still have elementary ages and younger we’ll have a messy project (like play dough, finger paints, etc) or do some fun baking (cookies, mini cupcakes and such-usually something the boys can decorate). Then we fill in much of the rest of the time reading together, or possibly watching a fun movie, even a non educational one!

    1. Michelle Caskey

      It’s hard to take much of a break when kids are young… but you may find that as they get older and their schoolwork becomes more demanding, that you will want – even need to add in a few more breaks. That has certainly been the case for us… and I used to homeschool all year ’round when they were younger.

  2. I have two teenage boys. One is a senior in public high school (homeschooled for 4 years prior to that), the other is a sophomore homeschooler. We follow the public school schedule and also take off any snow days that they take. There is absolutely no way I could get the younger one to do school while the older one has a snow day!

    Another “break” occurs when my son’s homeschool ski group gets together. They ski every Friday for 6-8 weeks. He is old enough now that I can just drop him off and go (or sit and chat with the other moms which can be a nice break). Next year he will be able to drive himself (just got his permit yesterday!). The skiing really isn’t a break in that it counts toward P.E., but it is different enough from the other subjects that it feels like a break.

    I have to admit I have hit a bit of a blah period. I can tell, because I am looking forward to planning things for next year without having finished this year! The planning is more fun than the doing right now. I need to step back and look at the big picture for this year and see where we are headed.

    Next year will offer its own challenges as my older son will be off to college somewhere. We won’t have to follow the public school schedule, but my younger son may be taking community college classes which will mean we have to stick to that schedule. Plus, my older son could be home several weeks over Christmas. Do we take a big break then, too? Something to think about.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Michelle Caskey

      I would DEFINITELY take a big break when your son is home over Christmas. That family time is very important! And it won’t be too many years before we won’t have that time with everyone together anymore… so I’d highly recommend you take that break. 🙂

      It’s good that you get a break when your son is skiing. Us moms need that time to chat with other moms. My boys just got done being on a homeschool basketball team, which they absolutely loved. It was a nice break for me having them at practice 2 nights a week… and it was also really fun to be able to talk to the other moms during their games – and to cheer our boys on together. Loved having that camaraderie!

  3. This year we opted to try a year-round schedule for the very purpose of taking regular breaks. 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. During our breaks, we try our best to continue math and language arts to keep the children up to speed for the school year. We’ll schedule field trips and fun science projects. The best part about this schedule is we can be more flexible. If someone gets sick, we will adjust the weeks and not feel guilty about missing a school day now and then.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Great idea, Gina. Thanks for sharing that with us! When my boys were younger we did a year-round schedule as well. It worked really well for that very reason.

  4. These are FANTASTIC tips. These are definitely tips I am going to need to employ. We haven’t been doing much because of the new baby. I will definitely have to increase all of our enthusiasm.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you find them helpful. With a new baby you’ll need to give yourself more breaks that usual (and extra grace.) Take care and enjoy those new baby snuggles! 🙂

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