Perks and Pitfalls of Going Off Track

As of tomorrow, my kids are off track from school for the next three weeks and I can’t say I’m 100% excited about the prospect of having them home for so long.  When they first proposed year round school I had mixed feelings.  No more big summer break and instead random three week breaks during odd parts of the year.  Because of it my children didn’t get to celebrate Halloween at school and both of their birthdays fall during off track times as well.  Some enjoy the prospect of being able to take family vacations during the off season and while it’s nice to have that as an option, chances are you won’t be going on vacation with each break.

That means there are weeks with no school that need some sort of structure.

It would be so easy to just let the days slide by in a blur of lazy TV watching, video game playing, and not dressing until after lunch.  I’ve done it before and chances are even with the best intentions we will still be doing a lot of lazy.  There is just so much time to fill and currently, not much to fill it with.

Last night I tried to find a magical solution to this problem online. I searched “what to do with kids that are off track” and got hundreds of sites giving recommendations for different youth correction facilities and advice to deal with troubled children. Not helpful.  I searched for “kids winter break” and had better luck although most of the activities had something to do with Christmas.  I can use some of these, although I’m still limited because of the age range of my kids.  In the time I wasted trying to find a plan for keeping everyone engaged and entertained without breaking the bank or my emotional well being, I probably could have come up with some great ideas of my own.

So this morning I did –

  1. The library – I love the idea of being lazy with books.  My dream is one day to have the whole family curled up with great books and reading together for hours on end. Right now that’s more difficult, my toddler has limited patience for both visiting the library and reading together. For the other two it’s still a great idea. If I’m lucky I can even find a little something for myself as well!
  2. Cooking – There are so many fun treats that I’d like to try making with my kids.  I’ve seen recipes for fruit leathers, cheese crackers, and other yummy kid staples that would be great to try, and healthier than the store bought versions as well.
  3. Crafting – From simple paper crafts like origami and watercolors to fiber crafts like finger knitting and bracelet making, there are hundreds of different things that we could try together.
  4. Science experiments – There are hundreds of mini experiments that can be done in and around the house.  Some of the things on my list: baking soda, making slime, paper airplanes, magnets, magnifying glasses, and more.
  5. Plain old fashioned fun – Hide and seek, hopscotch, jacks, and all of those great games that have survived the years are still terrific for kids.  What’s more they don’t require expensive equipment and can be done anywhere.
Author: child and books by george hodan

Author: child and books by george hodan

With these ideas I’m hoping that the break will be fun for everyone – including me.  There’s nothing worse than working so hard to entertain the kids that there’s no time or energy left for the stuff that I need and want to do. 

What do you like doing when the kids are out of school?

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Perks and Pitfalls of Going Off Track

  1. I’ve only got one, and I have to say it’s much easier now at age 12 than when he was in the single digits. We do stuff together, but he doesn’t need assistance to be entertained anymore. I’m not a crafty science-projecty kind of person, but luckily my mom is, so I take him over there sometimes. Yesterday they baked cookies, which is a win-win for me. He had fun and I get cookies.

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    • Yay! Cookies! I’m looking forward to the days when any of the grandparents would be willing to take my little herd with them for a fun afternoon, although I have this sinking feeling that it might never happen. Today we played with super absorbent polymers (also known as orbeez) which are super fun to touch and hold. Tomorrow we might be making Gak if I can get my hands on some of the ingredients.

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  2. Sometimes simple is best! Give each of the kids a magnifying glass and take a walk. It is amazing what sort of things they will find. Also, sit back and and watch the clouds, look for shapes, use your imagination to see what you can find. I’ve also taken time to teach my kids how to sew.

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  3. Jodi ~ I know you have a LOT on your writing plate right now, but thought this might interest you: http://writingcareer.com/

    Among other things, Simon & Schuster is starting a Sci-Fi imprint and Penumbra Magazine wants Super Hero stories. And the Fog Horn is paying $1000 a story (for 1200-8500 words).

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