School isn't out for everyone

Jeremiah Briolat, 9, works on his English grammar sentence diagrams Wednesday. Jeremiah, along with his younger brother, who are homeschooled, were surely among the very few students who did schoolwork in Berrien County on Wednesday. 

With schools across Southwest Michigan closed on Wednesday, there were still some students who found themselves preoccupied in their studies.

Among those students were Hillary Briolat’s children, Jeremiah and Steven, who were either in their art class or poring through an English grammar lesson.

The two children are homeschooled, and Briolat, who puts together a curriculum for her boys, said it’s not a regular occurrence for them to take a snow day.

“We take ‘sunshine days’ off in the spring when you really wanna go to the beach; get outside,” Briolat said.

But it was business as usual for the Lincoln Township household on Wednesday. Their studies included math, reading, spelling and some Spanish lessons.

The class was given a short reprieve Monday when it was warm enough to be outside. Briolat said her children were given a “light day” with art, history and a Bible lesson.

However, Briolat said the weather became too cold for that on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As a way of incorporating the weather into their studies, Briolat said they conducted an experiment as part of a science project.

“We put our hands in ice cold water to see how long we could go,” Briolat said. “Then we covered our fingers in Crisco to simulate the blubber in whales and stuck our hands back in to see how long they could go stay in there. Then we read a book about polar animals.”

Briolat’s students had planned to visit the Lincoln Township Public Library to check out books, but the frigid temperatures prevented that possibility this week.

“We tend to save our days off for going to the beach,” Briolat said. “On the Southwest Michigan Christian Scholars (Facebook) page yesterday, someone asked what everyone does for snow days. The majority said they don’t do them.”

It’s the extracurricular activities that suffer during bad weeks like this one. Briolat said they’ve cancelled swimming lessons and have had to miss hockey practice.

“There’s a concern for driving on the road,” she said. “But we might be catching up on things from Monday anyway.”

Kitty Schaub and her three children – ages 11,10 and 7 – are also homeschooled.

However, Schaub said they spent their Wednesday in a movie marathon under blankets.

The Benton Township household had completed regular school work throughout the week, but chose to take Wednesday off due to the extreme weather – and some extra encouragement.

“Oh they absolutely asked me to take this day off,” Schaub said. “It’s not that big of a deal to take one day off. It’s really really cold out and they have a lot of friends in public school who are enjoying being home. So, we’re staying under blankets.”

A normal school day for the Schaub household begins at about 8:30 a.m. and wraps up with the last assignments at 1 p.m.

According to Schaub, her household taking a snow day “never happens.”

That’s why they’ll return to class for the rest of the week and focus on non-outdoor activities, such as reading and math. Hopefully, Schaub said their next day off will be this spring.

“One of the perks of homeschooling is if we’re doing work and I realize none of them can focus because it’s nice out, we’ll go outside and do our work,” she said. “Or we’ll go outside and enjoy it.”

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski