Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my mom and me playing hooky from school. Once or twice a year, she’d call me in sick, and instead of heading to the doctor or back to bed, my mom and I would head to Bob’s Big Boy for breakfast. We’d go shopping, or I’d run errands with her. Then back at home we watched her soap operas. Nothing huge ever happened on those days, but they were the best. They were out of the norm and 100% about connection. They gave me time with my mom; I didn’t have to share her with my sister. As I got older, those days off of school also helped me recharge.
The word hooky has a negative, slightly naughty connotation. But for homeschoolers in need of a break, mindfully choosing to skip school can be a breath of fresh air.
Part of raising children is helping our kids learn to be responsible, contributing members of society. Does letting our children skip school reinforce these lessons?
Yes and no.
Certainly, there are times when ditching responsibility is not a good choice. But there are other times when flexibility, our emotional well-being, and family relationships need to be prioritized.
So, yes, at times you should play hooky from homeschool!
1. Play Hooky When Your Kids Have a Unique Opportunity
I’m a planner, so I prefer to have our field trips and out-of-home activities planned in advance. That doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes we find out about a homeschool day at a local museum the day before it is scheduled. Sometimes a friend my kids have been missing invites them over to play or family decides to visit.
What’s great about homeschooling is we can create our schedules. Even if we skip school one day, we have time the next day or later in the week to get caught up. Homeschooling allows us to take advantage of life’s opportunities by playing hooky from time to time.
Some homeschoolers opt for a 4-day week so they feel as if they are regularly playing hooky one day per week. This margin provides time to rest, run errands, and go on field trips without feeling behind.
2. Play Hooky When the Weather Changes
Have you been stuck inside because of bad weather? Did you wake up to the first snowfall of the year? The first beautiful sunny day or perfect day to go sledding are great reasons to play homeschool hooky. When the weather changes and is wonderful, it’s okay to head outside for the day. In fact, that’s one of the perks of homeschooling; we can be flexible and spontaneous. Your kids will still learn! Think of it as an extended day of natural science or physical education.
3. Play Hooky When You or Your Kids Need a Break
Sometimes, playing hooky is about mental health. We don’t learn or teach well if we’re feeling spent.
The Importance of Mental Health Days in US News and World Report states,
“Opening a discussion about mental health early on teaches young people that it's OK to feel overwhelmed and ask for help, to take care of yourself and to say that you aren’t feeling your best emotionally. Addressing mental health worries means better school performance and less physical illness. Taking a mental health day can help improve focus, performance and overall mental strength.”
Homeschoolers need hooky days, too. Yes, there are times when we all need to push through and get things done, and yes, a schedule and routine are important. But time to focus on connection, play, sunshine are important, too.
Play hooky to recharge! Spend time doing something you and your kids wouldn’t normally do—to create or deepen family bonds. You’ll create memories and find relaxation. You’ll have plenty of time to follow schedules, and the break will likely help you enjoy your routines and lessons even more.
About the Author
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.