To a great many homeschool moms, using the word exciting in the same sentence as holiday and homeschool may be a bit of a stretch. Christmas time can be a bit frantic and stressful without adding homeschooling to the mix, so it’s no great wonder that the combination causes some anxiety.
After eight years of homeschooling, however, I’ve finally reached a point where I am genuinely excited about this time of year. After years of “trying to do it all” over the holiday season, experience has taught me that it just isn’t happening- and if it does, it isn’t happening without a fight. Since I don’t want to be miserable at this “most wonderful time of the year,” and I’m sure my kids don’t want to be, either, I’ve tweaked and experimented with our holiday homeschool routine and have come up with five excellent alternatives to continuing on with the same old, same old.
5 Exciting Choices for a Stress-Free Homeschool Holiday Routine
1. Just stick with the basics.
November and December are always a bit of a whirlwind for many families. Everyone seems to have a million things running through their minds, with parents thinking of their extraordinary to-do lists and children dreaming of sugar plums, so it’s no big surprise that quite a few children- and moms- find it very hard to focus on lessons at this time of year.
This is the perfect opportunity to relax things a bit by just concentrating on the basics, like reading and math, and letting go of the other subjects for the month. This can be done in a variety of ways. Some families will read Christmas stories together, notebook through them, and complete holiday-oriented math lessons, while others may continue with their language arts and math curriculum while skipping the rest. How you decide to do it is entirely up to you.
If the thought of “neglecting” the other subjects alarms you, keep in mind that the holidays present a myriad of learning opportunities that aren’t planned but just happen as a part of the Christmas routine.
2. Do a Christmas unit study.
Like sticking with the basics, these unit studies can be done in a multitude of ways, like piecing together your own activities from scratch, finding a free Christmas unit study online, purchasing one, or even doing a study of Christmas carols. Unit studies are fabulous at this time of year because they can give homeschool moms the peace of mind that they are doing an actual curriculum while keeping the activities as festive and non-schoolish as possible.
3. Focus on acts of service.
You just can’t find a better time to instill compassion in your children than at Christmas time because so many opportunities just seem to jump out at you. Putting homeschool lessons on hold while preparing for and acting upon doing things for others is an excellent learning opportunity and is wonderful for building character. Some ideas include:
- baking for and delivering cookies to first responders
- writing thank you notes to librarians
- helping elderly or disabled people with wrapping presents or writing out Christmas cards
- caroling at a nursing home
- cleaning up litter around the neighborhood
- volunteering at a food bank or the soup kitchen
- having your children sort through their clothing and toys to donate them
- preparing and delivering a Christmas dinner for a family in need
- “adopting” a struggling family and purchasing or making Christmas gifts for them
The ideas go on and on, so I assure you, you could easily find enough to keep your children busy for December!
4. Turn your holiday preparations into lessons.
I know that many of us like to do things ourselves because we feel that we’re faster and more efficient, especially when crunched for time, BUT including our children in those preparations are a great way for them to keep busy and learn tons, while helping to check off the to-do list, as well.
Children like to be included in grown up things, and homeschooling provides the perfect setting for that, so take advantage of that and take a break from the normal homeschool routine by being intentional about letting them help. If you like to keep track of subjects, consider this:
- Food preparation covers math, life skills, and science
- Holiday planning includes math, critical thinking skills, social studies, and language arts
- Decorating covers art.
- Caroling covers music and sometimes history.
- Shopping includes math, life skills, and character training.
- Writing out Christmas cards covers language arts and social studies.
If you really look at it, life covers all the subjects easily as long as we don’t get in the way!
5. Just take a break or unschool.
Lots of people, including myself, just take off the whole month and don’t worry about school at all. In essence, this is what unschoolers do all the time, so it won’t hurt at all to follow their lead just once a year, would it? As mentioned in #4, Christmas time is chock full of exciting things to keep everyone busy, so learning will happen no matter what.
One of the most exciting things about homeschooling is the freedom that comes with it. What better time to take advantage of that than the busiest time of the year for most of us?
Do you homeschool differently during the holidays? How do you do it?
If you’re interested in reading about other awesome ways to homeschool the holidays, head on over to iHomeschoolNetwork.com to find tons of ideas!