If you are a new homeschool family, you may feel a little confused about what to do on days like Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, MLK Jr. Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day.
Are you supposed to follow the same holiday schedule as the public schools?
Are you a jerk for making your kids do school when everyone is else is taking a break?
Are you a lemming following the crowd if you take off school just because everyone else is?
Federal holidays can be a real challenge to navigate for homeschoolers.
I have definitely been asked this question by my kids:
“Mom, do we have to do school on Monday? It’s a holiday…all the other public school kids will be out of school.”
People who choose to homeschool their kid have made a statement with their “out of the box” choice.
They are not afraid to buck the system and go against the grain of what is “normal” in society.
We want to change the story of our kids’ education and do things differently than the status quo.
Maybe we want to teach Latin, phonics, or baking – whatever it is, it will probably be done differently than traditional school would do it – and we take pride in that!
So a person with that kind of mindset may get confused when she looks at the federal holidays for the year and wonders how they should fit into her homeschooling schedule.
Does she have to take these days off?
Should she take them off?
– You can use the day to get ahead or catch up with school work
– You can save the day off and use it for something else a little more exciting – birthdays, first real snow day, longer breaks, trips during less crowded/ less expensive weekends, ending the school year earlier, etc.
– Show your kids that many people work (grocery stores, gas stations, etc.) during these federal holidays and we should be thankful that they do.
– You can actually teach your kids what the holiday is about and let them watch an informative and fun youtube video about it along with the rest of their normal school work.
– Your kids will think you’re a big meany pants for doing school while most people are barbecuing, shopping, sleeping, or vacationing.
– You could miss out on what might be a much needed break or day of rest for your homeschool
– Neighborhood kids may knock on your door and not understand why you’re holding your homeschool kids hostage on a day off
– Potentially miss out on time with dad if he is off work for the holiday
I rarely, if ever, take off school for federal holidays (excluding Christmas, Thanksgiving of course).
The main reason is that I would much rather save those days for much better stuff:
Longer holiday breaks
The first real snow day
Ending the year earlier
Going on trips during less popular weekends
This homeschool year in particular has also been crazy with a lot of days off that I wasn’t expecting.
We have had sick kids, surprise trips to the doctor’s office, an unexpected move across town, family coming to visit, etc.
It’s been a crazier year for us than usual!
The second reason I homeschool through most federal holidays is that homeschooling does not take that long!
Depending on how focused my kids are, we can be done with school around lunch time.
That leaves plenty of time to hang out with dad, go outside and play, eat BBQ, attend a festival, or whatever else.
You may be wondering if it seems disrespectful to continue on as usual during these holidays.
What will people says? Will your kids grow up to have no reverence for the people who are being honored?
Nope, I don’t think so.
The opposite is likely much more true.
In my experience, many Americans have no idea what the difference is between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
I am a veteran who served in the Army Nurse Corps and I have been awkwardly wished a “happy” Memorial Day before.
If you don’t know, that’s awkward because Memorial Day is meant to honor veterans who have died serving our country…and I’m not dead.
The same is true for Labor Day.
I have seen several educated people stumble and guess while trying to explain why we take that day off every September.
I think they don’t know because they have always taken the day off from school, and therefore it just hasn’t been highlighted or taught.
If you homeschool, you can absolutely set some time aside on these federal holidays to really explain what the day is all about.
Having this discussion with your kids, reading some books, and maybe watching some youtube videos with your kids will help them remember, grasp, and eventually honor these days into adulthood.
Just recently, I homeschooled on MLK Day. Instead of doing our normal devotional time, I had my kids watch an age appropriate video about Dr. King’s life.
I actually learned a few things I didn’t know! And I had a great time talking to my kids about how this hero completely changed America for the better.
In my opinion, this was so much more honoring to the day.
You may be wondering if my point in all of this is to guilt you into doing school through all the federal holidays.
The joy of homeschooling is that you can do whatever you want with your schedule and no one can stop you.
My only goal is to show that you do have options.
Maybe you love taking federal holidays off. Awesome.
Maybe you don’t even know when the holidays are and you don’t care. Totally fine.
Maybe you need a break like no one’s business and you’re so thankful for every one of those federal holidays. Super!
Whatever works for your family and what fits your homeschool is what you should be doing – don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
So enjoy whatever you have chosen!