What does homeschooling during the busy holiday season look like for your family? Or what do you WANT it to look like? Around our house, we tend to stick with the "usual" schedule for the first couple of weeks of December, mostly for my sanity. I know from experience that we NEED structure or else the children will drive each other (and me) absolutely bonkers! However, there is a lot of flexibility built into our daily routine, so we try to finish academic work in the mornings and leave our afternoons free for Christmas activities. In December, our co-op classes don't meet, so we have an "extra" day we don't usually have during the school week. This gives us even more time to "get through" our academic activities.
This year for whatever reason we seem to have gotten a bit of a head start on some of the Christmas things! As the kids have grown older, I'm finding more and more joy in letting them take the lead when they have interest. (Another way you can read that: I have learned to stop controlling everything, lol.) For example, my 11yo son spearheaded the entire decorating efforts, leaving me free to care for Verity and do some planning. (I told him I reserved the right to rearrange decorations!)
My 15yo loves to work in the kitchen, and she has decided she enjoys (now and then) doing a project with ONE younger sibling at a time. She made peanut butter balls with one younger brother one afternoon and fudge with another brother the next day. Today we are starting our cookie baking efforts, and because I've had more time (or at least it feels like it) compared to some years thanks to the kids' growing independence, I'm finding myself looking forward to the group baking project rather than dreading it.
And because we had some pre-season family planning discussions, amazingly, we have quite a few gifts already wrapped and under the tree. I don't know when I've felt so organized this early in December!
Honestly, during many of our holiday seasons I felt as if we were in survival mode. This year I started praying about how we could have more balance and peace, being intentional about our activities and celebrations. God has graciously led us to some specific ideas but also...beyond the DOING...He is helping me find joy and contentment in simply BEING.
So what does homeschooling during the holidays look like for YOUR family? I asked that question in my homeschool support group and received some great answers. (If you're not in that group, by the way, join us to find encouragement from other moms committed to homeschooling long-term!)
These responses are from seasoned homeschool moms who have a wide range of experience and ages of children. With their permission, I'm sharing some of their answers here, because I believe it's so important to see how different everyone's homeschooling AND holiday activities can look.
Laura H., an Iowa mom of 5 (some of whom have some significant health issues), shared, "We put the books away! We're taking a break from traditional school from Thanksgiving to New Year's and focusing on enjoying the Christmas season with family. Lots of baking, crafts, concerts, movies, etc."
From Indiana, Adriane V., mother of 12 (including a daughter with Trisomy 18), answered, "We throw our entire normal schedule out the window. For us December is focused on advent calendar activities, Christmas movie themed parties, reading Christmas books, puzzles, games, making homemade Christmas cards, baking and delivering treats to the elderly and neighbors, cleaning, decorating, purging house of excess stuff, playing outside in snow if there is any, volunteering in community."
Renee T., mother of 7 in Michigan, said, "Our bigger kids are staying on track with their usual stuff, but for the younger kids I'm trying something new. We are doing a Christmas unit guide I downloaded free from Pam Barnhill, and it has suggestions for learning how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. Looking forward to starting that next week."
And Casey H., mother of 6 who is currently living in Germany, remembers this about her earlier days of homeschooling (her kids are older and flying the nest): "We started earlier in the summer to be able to take that whole time off between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and just enjoy field trips, outings, and the treats of the season. It was lovely."
I hope some of these ideas have inspired you and given you a sense of freedom as you head into a busy holiday season. If "getting through school" feels stressful, remember how much value there is in participating in Advent, whatever that looks like for your family. All of the extra things we find ourselves doing are also educational! So if you haven't already done so, find the freedom to focus on what truly matters.
Do you need an objective observer to help you bring order and creativity to your homeschooling during this busy season? I have a limited number of spots for a FREE clarity call. Sign up now to take advantage of this opportunity!