Yes, It's Okay to Take a Break

a child blows bubbles while another child runs with a kite

Do you ever find yourself questioning if it’s okay to take a break from homeschooling? We can feel a longing for a break and rationally see the need for a break, but for whatever reason taking a break can feel wrong

In our eight years of homeschooling, my kids and I have taken a number of unplanned breaks. Whether the pause from lessons lasted a day or a week, I’ve never once regretted taking a rest from our homeschool routine. I have, however, regretted not taking a break sooner.  

Taking a break is not a sign of failure or weakness. More often than not, it's exactly what our kids or we need in order to let our brains process, refuel, and learn. Below are some of the times it is absolutely okay and necessary to take a homeschool break. 

Take a Break When Your Kids Are Clearly Burned Out

One of the biggest reasons to take a break is when you notice your homeschooler is continually feeling overwhelmed or shutting down. There are times to push through a hard concept or lesson, but if your child is constantly hitting a wall, they may need a break.

Research shows stepping outside of our routine and away from the thing that is stressing us out can help us replenish the energy we need to keep trying. 

Take a Break When You Are Over Stressed

Another important time to take a break is when you are feeling overburdened. Keeping on can just make you feel worse.

If we don’t give ourselves time to recharge, we’re more likely to lose our patience. I’ve found my energy directly affects my children’s energy. When I’m not at my best, it’s just a matter of time before they catch my mood, which never turns out well. The days I’ve given myself a period of rest have always ended up benefiting us all. 

Take a Break When You Have Out-of-Town Guests

Yes, It's Okay to Take a BreakWhen we first started homeschooling and out-of-town family or friends visited, I thought I needed to keep our lessons going. Every time, this proved to be problematic. There were extra people in the house, more chores to do, and more meals to prepare. Well-intentioned family members sometimes made our lessons hard. And we wanted to spend quality time with these people instead of trudging through our homeschool lessons. Taking a break when we have house guests is now something we automatically do. 

Take a Break When It’s a Gorgeous Day 

The first sunny day after many days of rain or the first day where coats and shoes are not required deserves a celebration! Especially when my kids were little, taking a break from homeschooling to spend the entire day outside recharged us as much as a week’s vacation.

We love taking our lessons outside, but a day to just play is something special. I quickly learned whenever my children played outside, learning happened. They discovered new plants or insects, found tracks, or learned how to engineer forts. 

But We’re Behind Already

If you’re thinking to yourself, “A break would feel great, but we’re behind,” I’d first ask you to answer the question, “Behind what?”

One of the gifts of homeschooling is we can move at the pace our children learn. This means sometimes our children move quickly through a lesson and other times they need more time. 

I’d also point you towards science. Research shows brain breaks allow learning and retention to happen at a faster rate. As counterintuitive as it may seem, a break might be just what you need to move ahead. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a neuroscientist and developmental psychologist at the University of Southern California says, “Keeping kids in a state of focused productivity may limit opportunities to develop their default mode mental capacities. We may be inadvertently “undermining their ability to become agentic, curious lifelong learners.” 

Healthcare professionals are starting to encourage parents and schools to give children mental health days, and companies are seeing the benefits of giving their employees more time off. Taking a break is good for our brains and bodies.

The next time you find yourself wondering if you and your homeschoolers should take a break, let the answer be yes. Once your break is over, everyone will feel refreshed and ready to learn. 

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About the Author

Kelly Sage of Curiosity Encouraged

Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.

Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.