Things are trucking along nicely in school, then suddenly you hit a bump. Brains are not working quite so well. Everyone is sluggish and tired. What little “want to” might have once existed seems to have disappeared. You hit an evaluation point, only to realize that you've fallen short because of a lack of motivation. Does that mean your benchmarks are off base? What should you do?
You might think that the curriculum needs to be adjusted or that the schedule has issues. But, that's not automatically the case. In fact, the first question to ask here often doesn't have anything to do with benchmarks or schedules, especially if things went smoothly for the first few weeks. Instead, there's a very different question to ask: Could it be that it's just time for a break?
Time for a Break: School Break Suggestions
We all need an occasional break, whether it comes in the form of an extended weekend or a full-fledged vacation. School is no exception. An extra day or week off every now and then will not keep our children from learning perseverance, nor will it demolish the benchmark progress.
On the contrary, taking time for a break just might be the trick we need to get everyone back on track, help our children restore their focus, and even help us pinpoint exactly where the struggle is so we can make any necessary adjustments — without refiguring benchmarks or restructuring the schedule.
Consider these school break suggestions:
- a completely unstructured day of play and relaxation
- a game day
- extra read-aloud time
- extra outside play in the yard or at the park
- play dates
Time for a Break: Take a Field Trip
Perhaps you feel like it’s time for a break, but you don’t want to completely pull away from your studies. Maybe you need a change of approach and scenery more than a break from learning. If that’s the case, a field trip is the ideal school break activity!
Planning a field trip can be as simple as choosing an educational destination, such as a science or history museum. Or it can be as intricate as choosing your location based on where you are in your curriculum, highlighting a historical focus, scientific concept, or literary theme.
Field trips can be short, fitting into a time frame of a few hours or less, or they can be incorporated into vacation plans and cover several days.
When you decide that it’s time for a break, the first thing you have to decide is how long of a break you want to take. This will be necessary for figuring out what kind of field trip you want to take during your break.
You’ll want to consider the amount of time you wish to spend, your budget, and the ages of your children will help you narrow down field trip choices. Here are a few more thoughts to consider.
Make a Field Trip Wishlist
Taking time for a break by enjoying a field trip is much easier if you have an idea of potential field trips ready to go.
Every time you hear of a field trip in your area, write it down – with a few comments about location, cost, and subject matter – in the notes section of your Day by Day or Well Planned Day homeschool planner.
When you are ready to plan a field trip, all you have to do is choose from the list based on your current curriculum focus, budget, and time frame.
Do a Little Pre-Scheduling
Even if you are more of a record-as-you-go type of person, you probably have an idea of what you will be exploring in school over the coming year. As you build your field trip wish list, consider your anticipated topics.
Make plans to review your field trip wish list at the beginning of every month and compare it to what you plan to learn that month. That will give you time to consider field trip logistics and have all of the work done ahead of time.
Then, when it’s actually time for a break, you don’t have to expend unnecessary energy trying to do all of the planning to make your field trip happen.
It’s easy to let a month, semester, or even entire school year go by without taking time for a break, much less going on a field trip, especially once you get into the busier upper grades.
Consider setting aside two to four days per semester for field trips. Then, whether you can find a trip that fits with your curriculum or not, just go!
Go With Friends
Do you have a local homeschool association or co-op? Friends who homeschool?
Consider pairing up with others to take a trip. Often, groups of twelve to twenty can get group rates for field trip destinations. Other times, a group is allowed to engage or explore in ways that individuals cannot.
Incorporating the Field Trip into Your Curriculum
Remember my advice to plan ahead so that your field trip actually feels like a break? Adding a little extra effort into your planning makes it incredibly easy to work field trips directly into your curriculum. This is often helpful for us mentally when we feel like it’s time for a break because we don’t have to stress about getting behind on the benchmarks if our break-time field trips work right into the curriculum.
Consider these suggestions for incorporating field trips into your curriculum while still getting that break.
Research in Advance
Many destinations offer downloadable teacher’s packets with scavenger hunts, questions, or “passports” to use during the trip.
Even if these things are not offered, twenty to thirty minutes of prep work can help you recognize highlights to point out to your children along the way.
This doesn’t mean you have to make the field trip feel like school, but you and your children can’t help but get excited when fun trips bring to life the things you’ve been learning. Being prepared for this makes it easy!
Some locations have resources specifically created for homeschoolers. Also, themed Activity Guides, such as these available to Well Planned Gal Insiders, can help you create lesson plans around your field trip.
But remember, do this ahead of time! Don’t wait until you feel like it’s time for a break to start looking for resources. That will just make it more stressful.
Remember that’s it’s better to have a plan that you don’t end up needing than to not have a plan at all.
Turn The Trip
Into A Unit Study
What happens if your field trip ends up being a spontaneous one that you haven’t planned ahead for?
Instead of neglecting to take time for a break because you’re stressing about making your field trip fit the curriculum, just grab a camera and notebooks and take notes and pictures that will help you assemble a lapbook or unit study when you get home.
Continue the learning after you get home by reading and writing about your experience.
Replace A Lesson
With A Field Trip
It is possible to be completely spontaneous when it’s time for a break without preparation beforehand or a unit study afterward.
Is it time to study mammals? Instead of reading a lesson about mammals to your children, teach it as you walk through the zoo. Plan a trip to a Civil War battlefield park to coordinate with your Civil War studies.
When you get home, just move right along, resting in the joy of experiential learning.
There’s one last “time for a break” field trip list you can make. It’s one that jumps on interests rather than on specific curriculum plans.
Did your son love that seafaring novel? Find a way to visit a ship replica. Do your daughter’s eyes light up whenever she hears the word archaeology? Research locations that allow her to try her hand at a dig.
These themes might not fit into your immediate lesson plans, but they are definitely enhancing the love for learning in your children!