As the holidays creep closer, I find my calendar filling up faster than four crazed children can fill their take-out containers at the local community holiday cookie walk. Despite my bloated schedule, my inner type A, list-making, box-checking self still finds ways to pressure us all into making sure we do all the school things before winter break. It wouldn’t occur to me to make homeschooling through the holidays…. less stressful? Joyful? Maybe even a little fun?
No, why would I try to make it easier on myself?
I really should know better by now. And yet EVERY stinking year I do it again. I say yes to the additional obligations, rack up all the “fun” festive activities I can find, and still try to fulfill our regular academic schedule.
It’s ridiculous, really.
So, in lieu of rising blood pressure, fa-la-la-ing myself silly, and pushing myself to one apple pie short of a mental breakdown, I think it’s time for me to find where I can be flexible and what I can let go of.
The beautiful thing about homeschooling is how flexible it is. Need to do more? Add in an extra school day on the weekend. Have less time one day? Read your language arts book before bed instead of trying to squeeze it in before errands.
The same principle can be applied during the holiday season. This year, I want to work with the holidays in my homeschool instead of against them. Here’s how.
Ask yourself what’s most important & find a time to make it happen.
Homeschooling through the holidays means it’s okay to lighten the academic load a bit. However, you might still have some scholastic tasks on your list that you want to fit in.
Is there something academic that you really still want to accomplish during the holiday season? Then prioritize it. Pencil it into your calendar just like any other obligation.
For my family, these priorities are math and writing. There’s a lot of history, science, and reading that happens in our every day activities. But math and writing are two tasks that my kids will avoid like the plague if I don’t instill daily practice times for them. I’d like them to continue regular practice doing these two subjects throughout the holidays. For your family, it might be something different entirely.
Fulliling your high-priority tasks will give you a feeling of accomplishment in the midst of a busy season. You’ll know that you stayed on track with your goals, even when some other things had to be let go. Bonus: It will also help you to feel more at peace because you won’t have that nagging unfinished feeling when you lay down your head at night.
Find festive activities that are also educational.
Who’s to say that holiday activities can’t count as school? You can find tons of educational holiday resources on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest, ranging from Thanksgiving to Hannukah to Christmas to Kwanzaa. These might include:
- History or social studies lessons that relate to the holiday.
- Seasonally themed crafts and activities.
- Complete unit studies that cover all the core subjects through the lens of a particular holiday.
Many of these resources are printable or low-prep, which can help to save you time during a busy season.
You may also want to try checking out a swath of books from your local library on favorite holiday topics. This can count for language arts, social studies, history, poetry… you name it, and books have got you covered.
Count learning from behind.
Too often, we think that if something doesn’t look like school, it doesn’t count as learning. However, there’s loads of educational value in everyday activities and holiday celebrations– even there’s not a worksheet in sight. Here’s an example.
It’s time to prepare for Thanksgiving. You make extensive shopping lists, leave the store with an inordinate amount of food, spend hours house cleaning and cooking, and maybe you’ll decorate too if you’re feeling ambitious.
Meanwhile, the kids make helpful suggestions (“Don’t forget sugar for the pies!”), go with you to the store however willingly or unwillingly, get their hands dirty in the kitchen helping to make said pies, and strew your decorative gourds all over the living room floor so that one of your guests can trip on them.
Okay, okay, so it might be a circus. BUT what we often don’t realize is that kids are absorbing so much from the process. Even if it doesn’t look perfect or completely helpful to us, our kids are learning real skills and participating in daily life.
Making a shopping list? That’s reading, writing, organizing, planning.
Going shopping with mom or dad? That’s following directions, dividing to determine unit costs, estimating and comparing prices, and character development– let’s face it, shopping for a holiday can take a lot of patience.
House cleaning? Chores are a great lesson in home economics. They’re also a chance to develop intrinsic motivation, self-discipline, and a strong work ethic.
Helping with cooking? Getting in the kitchen involves reading and following a recipe. It requires performing different math operations as you check measurements and double recipes. Plus, it’s a great way to exercise those executive functioning muscles as your kids watch timers, multi-task, and work as a team.
And decorating? That counts as art, creativity, design, and home management.
Here’s the point- while you are involved in hustle and bustle, you can get your kids involved too. They’ll be practicing hidden academics and developing life skills at the same time- and that’s a win/win.
Let go of what you don’t need.
You don’t need to do a science period every day, and you don’t need to say yes to every holiday event. You can choose to stay home when it serves you better, or you can choose to go out and leave the housework undone.
It’s okay to let go of what you don’t need so you have time for what’s really important.
We want homeschooling though the holidays to be a joyful experience. If we try to fit everything in, our schedules become overwhelming, the stress becomes all-consuming, and we lose the joy.
Homeschooling through the holidays can be done!
Learning when to say yes and when to say no is a big part of homeschooling through the holidays. We can plan in our essentials, take advantage of the freedom that homeschooling provides, and let go of what we don’t need. When we prioritize what really matters, we can make homeschooling during a busy season a positive experience that the whole family enjoys.
What about you? Do you have any tips for homeschooling through the holidays? Please share them in the comments!