Fall break: a time for parents and children alike to kick back, relax, and take a little bit of a break. If you’re a homeschooling parent, you don’t get a “break” from your kids—but at least you can get away from the daily grind for a little while. No fighting through assignments…no lecturing about subjects that you learned years ago…no grading papers…sounds like every parent’s dream, right?
Unless you happen to have a high-needs child whose behavior will fly right out the window the moment that break begins and remain terrible right up until they’ve been back at their regular routine for a week, anyway. In that case, the very idea of fall break sends chills running down your spine. You have a routine down. Your child knows what to expect, and you know how to manage him. You can get through the week with a minimum of trouble at this point, because you’ve been in school long enough to have a routine and a system in place.
“Curses on fall break!” you’re muttering under your breath. You wonder if you can just skip it altogether. Will he really notice? Sure, the kids at the park will be talking about it…and the kids at church…and….
Okay, fine, so you probably can’t just pretend that fall break doesn’t exist. However, you can get through it with a minimum of meltdowns—if you’re prepared ahead of time.
Consider a “partial” break. Let your child have the option of working for a smaller portion of the day than usual, maybe even for a longer period of time. You know when they usually come closest to meltdown—make that the point at which you stop for the day.
Impose limits. Have a structure and schedule to your day similar to the one that you have during “school” weeks. Wake at the normal time; continue to go to bed on time; have meals at their usual times. Continue to do chores as usual. Keeping as close as possible to your regular schedule will go a long way toward keeping your high-needs child on track.
Plan something special. An outing or two is often part of your normal schedule, and can be adapted to. It will also keep your child busy, engaged, and directed, instead of having the freedom to get into things that they know they shouldn’t.
Don’t go wild. If your child is typically on a modified diet—gluten free, or no food dyes, or dairy free—to control behavior, don’t go wild over fall break. It’s tempting to allow them treat after treat after treat, but remember what the consequences will be if you do, and try to keep it in check. One special treat might not hurt (depending on your child), but daily treats almost certainly will!