Do Homeschoolers Have Snow Days?
Are snow days for homeschoolers, too? Survey says…
When I was a kid in public school, one of the best things that could happen was getting a snow day. I remember the excitement the night before when the weather stations predicted a blizzard, and my parents told me school might be canceled tomorrow. Then, in the morning, my brother and I would eat breakfast in front of the television, watching the local news station for updates on school closures.
The banner moving across the bottom of the screen would display the names of every district that had announced a closure; we’d erupt in cheers when we saw the name of our school flash across the screen. We’d spend the rest of the day playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and watching TV.
For the last week, much of the United States has been grappling with record low temps and snowfall that has canceled classes nationwide for millions of public school children. Homeschoolers, of course, are much less impacted by inclement weather since… well, since we do school at home. While inclement weather closes public schools, homeschoolers soldier on with class at the kitchen table.
Some homeschooled kids react with indignation at this perceived injustice. In my own household, when my kids hear the local district is canceling school for snow, they argue that they should get a day off, too. “It’s not fair!” they protest. “We never get snow days! If the weather is so bad that they get a day off, we should get one, too!”
Is there any merit to their argument? Should you give your homeschooled kids snow days? There are considerations on both sides…
On the one hand, one of the principal reasons we homeschool is because we are not bound by the practices of the public schools. We don’t follow their class schedules. We don’t use their curricula. Sometimes, we don’t even know what grade our kids are in. So why would we feel obligated to follow the district’s judgment of when school should be canceled or not?
Besides, as homeschoolers, the weather generally has less effect on our academics. Sure, co-ops or extracurricular events may be canceled, but snow generally doesn’t stop kids from cracking open their books on the couch or working on their laptops, so ultimately, what’s the point? And if the kids are doing online classes, well, those don’t get canceled for bad weather.
Now, you may live in a state that requires homeschoolers to have the same number of school days as the public schools. In those cases, homeschool snow days might be tied to public school snow days, but otherwise, there’s no reason we need to duplicate public school schedules. (See our article, “Homeschoolers Don’t Need to Mimic Public School.”)
On the other hand, even if it’s not strictly required, is there value in having a snow day? Is it fitting? If the snow has fallen so heavy that public school needs to be canceled, your kids would likely enjoy taking advantage of the heavy snowfall for winter activities—building snow forts, sledding, hot chocolate, snowmen, ice skating, snowball fights, and all the good stuff.
After all, a snow day isn’t just about what kids don’t have to do but what the snowfall allows them to do.
This consideration is especially relevant if you live in a climate that doesn’t usually get snow—If you are in Texas and you get a snow day, the event itself is so rare that it becomes an argument for giving your kids the day off so they can experience the white stuff.
A snow day need not be all or nothing. Many families do a shortened school day during inclement weather. Kids do only the most essential subjects and then are released to play.
Additionally, homeschooling takes less time than a site-based school. If snowman-building is calling to your children, they’ll be motivated to get their work done by lunchtime so they can get out and play.
If you have some children who attend a school and others who are homeschooled, this can create envy when the former gets to stay home and have a day off, whereas the latter are expected to do work. Sometimes, it’s better to give everyone the day off to maintain peace.
If your homeschooled children have friends who attend a site-based school, giving them a snow day allows them an opportunity to visit their friends who are out of school for the day.
A snow day can obviously function as a rest day or a day to catch up for the parent.
Yes! Homeschool Students Speak Up
But what do the kids say? I posed the snow day question to students on the Homeschool Connections Student Cafe. Here are some of their surprisingly diverse responses:
“I think we should get snow days because we want breaks, and the public school kids are hoarding all the snow days, and we deserve snow days too!” ~Joshua, age 14
“I think that homeschoolers should have the option to have days that end a bit earlier when it snows. For example, while a younger sibling may want to go play in the snow, an older sibling who isn’t in the mood may prefer to stay in and get school done. I think it is difficult to over generalize this question as it boils down to many different factors.” ~Isabella, age 16
“Yesssss. Snow is fleeting; we should enjoy every moment of it. Plus, it’s so frustrating to be stuck inside and see the perfectly good snow outside every time you look at it.” ~Miriam, age 17
“Since snow is so rare where I live, I think that homeschoolers should get snow days, as when it snows, it’ll probably be the only chance we get that year to enjoy it.” ~Kyleigh, age 17
“I think we should have snow days. Sometimes, a break from school helps everyone feel refreshed and more alert when they head back to school. If it isn’t dangerous to go outside, go sledding, do something fun.” ~Kelly, age 18
“You got so many school days. A few off due to very severe weather won’t make a difference. Plus it’s an experience to have snow days.” ~Caleb, age 17
It Depends – Homeschool Students Speak Up
“I think it heavily depends on the age and the amount of school work you have. When it snows a lot, my mom will usually let the kids take a mid-morning break to play outside, and then they can go back out in the afternoon when they’re done completely. I’m taking enough high-level classes at this point, but it’s not worth taking an entire snow day off. Especially this new into the semester when I’m still getting settled with my new workload and new classes. Taking an entire day off just because the city has would throw me off and put me behind for the next few days.” ~Gianna, age 17
“I think as long as you are either caught up/ahead on your school work and do not have classes the day the snow arrives, then yes.” ~Joseph, age 15
“I think snow days just for fun is a cool idea, especially for homeschoolers with more flexible schedules. Especially in places where snow is rare, it would be a shame to be doing school when there’s snow outside.” ~Miriam, age 15
“If we got more than an inch of snow, we get a snow day so we can experience snow.” ~John, age 16
“I think that snow days are nice when it is the first “big snow” of the year. But I think that on little snow storms, there is no need for a snow day.” ~Michael, age 15
No! Homeschool Students Speak Up
“I would say that homeschoolers still SHOULD NOT get snow days. The curriculums I am using starts later in the school year than the public schoolers (in my opinion) which i like! If we had snow days, we would start earlier and maybe even go later into the spring/summer months. And we are inside anyway, staying inside on a super cold day because we wouldnt have school would not be super amazing.” ~Emma, age 14
“No, if we’re at home all day, the weather shouldn’t affect our school.” ~Mary, age 14
“Snow days would mess with my schedule quite a bit. I have my weeks scheduled so that I can’t randomly take a day off. Also, snow days would mean much less summer.” ~Claudette, age 14
“No, I don’t think homeschoolers should have snow days. Schools close down because the cold temperatures and snow can be dangerous to kids traveling to the physical school building. Most of the time, all we have to do is cross the room to our desk. By not taking snow days, homeschoolers also have the opportunity to take more fun days off as it gets warmer and to finish school earlier than public schoolers.” ~Julianna, age 18
Good Weather Days
Julianna’s comment brings us to another option. Why not have “Good Weather Days” instead of Snow Days? When the weather is absolutely gorgeous, especially after a harsh winter, it may do you and the kids good to put the books aside and enjoy God’s Creation!
Co-op and Extracurriculars
What if your homeschool day was planned around outside activities such as co-op? What do you do? You have a few options:
- Call it a snow day, relax, play, and take a break from schoolwork.
- Call it a catchup day and use the time to tackle schoolwork that is behind schedule.
- Organize some fun activities to keep the kids active and engaged.
Ideas for fun snow-day activities:
- Breakout the board games.
- Get creative and pull out all of your art supplies.
- Facetime with Grandma and Grandpa.
- Make snow ice cream.
- Kitchen table science fun (affiliate link)
- Binge on movie classics
- Get in the kitchen and bake away