Mom tips: Making snow days and sick days your own

I think my children's least favorite thing about homeschooling is the lack of snow days and sick days. When I was a kid, we used to wake up to snow with the wild hope that maybe, just maybe, school would be canceled for the day. Sick days weren't bad either. Especially if you were only a little bit sick, too sick to go to school, not too sick to laze around and watch good movies in your pajamas. (Anybody ever read "I Can Not Go To School Today!" by Shel Silverstein?) No such luck for my kids. It doesn't matter if we get three feet of blowing and drifting snow, we have no problem getting to our school room downstairs at the kitchen table. And unless you have a super-high fever, being sick in our house just means you get to do your schoolwork on the couch.


But here is the trick that I remind my children of when things like this come up. We, unlike kids in a "regular" school setting, have the freedom to adjust and bend our schedule as needed. Such an awesome thing. And something I can remind my kids they are lucky to have on the days when it feels like they are getting the short end of the educational stick.

We recently had a "snow day" in our neck of the woods. It was one of those days where you wake up and immediately check the news to see if school has been canceled. Unfortunately for most of the school age kids in our area, the officials decided that the buses could continue to run. None of the public school kids got to play in the snow for longer than a recess break because it was melting fast by about 3:00 p.m., but the flexibility that we have by making our own schedule allowed us to take a couple hours off at lunchtime to allow for play and then regroup and just work later into the afternoon. Homeschool win!

I also remind them that when a child is sick in public school, the class doesn't stop and wait for him to get well. The class goes on and then the sick child falls behind or has to do the make-up work to keep up with his peers. When my kids get sick, that is the perfect day for low-key activities (on the couch of course, with a cozy blanket) like a reading day or simple worksheets. There doesn't have to be a time of catch-up when they are well again, because we can tailor the day to meet the needs of the child instead of the other way around.

The other thing, of course, is that they really get bonus "sick days." No one ever seems to mention these, but sometimes my kids will get an easier day or a break day in the middle of the week because mom is sick. Even if we have to make it up later to meet the requirements of our state for number of days, it's a nice change of pace for the kids. There are no substitutes in homeschool. When the teacher is sick, the teacher is sick.

So when my kids see the neighborhood children playing outside on a "snow day", or want to just lie around and watch movies on their sick days, I remind them of the benefits of our flexible schedule and how we are able to use that to our advantage.