When it comes to homeschooling during the holidays, it can be tough. Christmas often arrives right on the heels of Thanksgiving and the whirl of activities and performances and shopping and baking and visitors and whew! It makes a mom’s head spin!
With a little planning and forethought, a homeschool mom can keep her sanity, make the most of her homeschooling days and still be able to celebrate in a meaningful way.
Some families choose to take the whole month of December off their school lessons, but for those of us who would like to (or need to) keep up some of our schooling during this time, here are 10 easy ways to homeschool during the holidays.
Stick with the basics. Choose one or two subjects that need consistent practice. For one child it might be math. If he needs to keep his brain sharp so he’s ready to pick up the books again in January, assign a math lesson 3 times a week, but give other subjects a break so you can fill your days with some fun and games or cookie baking and movie watching. If you have a beginning reader, daily reading is important. Set that as a priority and the rest go until after the holidays. Consistency with a little often brings better results than planning much and failing to carry it out.
2. Give Child-Directed Studies a try.
Kids are curious by nature. Let them take the lead for a while. What do they want to know? What are their interests right now? Give them the freedom to discover by providing time and resources to find the answers!
3. Try a Unit Study.
You can cover all the subject areas with a unit study – history, biography, geography, literature. Choose a topic like Christmas Around The World, or Chocolate, or the story behind your favorite Christmas Carols. Search your local library (or your own bookshelves!) and research together. A quick internet search will bring up a list of downloadable resources for a wide range of topics you could use for 2, 4, 6 weeks.
4. Serve Others.
There are many ways families can reach out and make a difference in the lives of their neighbors, extended family and church members. You can seek out programs that deliver meals or volunteer with a local food pantry. You may know a family who is having financial difficulties and could use a few extra groceries. Teens can offer their babysitting services to moms who need time shopping or cooking. Our children have collected items for care packages that friends hand out to the homeless in their town. Taking time to think about the needs of others provides valuable learning experiences that are not found in the school books.
5. Get Creative.
A friend created a Christmas Bucket List with her children. During a brainstorming session they listed out everything they wanted to do between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. They prioritized their list, then scheduled them on a calendar posted on the refrigerator. Knowing there was plenty of fun coming, the children were motivated to get their shorter hours of schooling in so they could enjoy the outings and special times together.
6. Real Life Schooling.
Holiday baking can be turned into science class, math class and reading class. Children learn best while doing, and letting your students help in the kitchen is one of the best ways to see this in action! Is the snow falling? Shoveling an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk, building a snowman with younger siblings, scraping the windows for mom are all great ways to get fresh air and physical activity, while serving others. Take on a few simple hands-on projects or learn new skills by searching pinterest for DIY Christmas ornaments or gifts for children to make.
7. Focus on The Extras.
A break from the traditional book work might be what your students need. These weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas can be very distracting anyway, so why not switch gears for a while? Set aside time for music, art, woodworking, whatever. Think about the fine arts or language study you’ve been wanting to make room for. This might be just the time for it!
8. Take Field Trips.
Get out of the house and enjoy time together! Museums and nearby historic sites help bring history to life. Check with your local library to see if they have passes to museums and sits in your area.
9. Lower Your Expectations.
Is it truly realistic to keep a full schedule of lessons while making handmade gifts, traveling to visit grandparents, building gingerbread houses, singing in the Christmas Cantata, not to mention making it to all the rehearsals!? List out the things that are truly the most important, then decide how much time you have left for the rest. You might choose to take a break from your studies, you might choose to work those lessons one day a week. Whichever you choose, it’s only for a season.