From Mid-November through New Year’s Day, our calendar is packed. We don’t, however take the whole time off from school. My top tips to homeschool during the holidays make both mama and the learners happy. We seem to always be on the go or busy at home. In addition to the holidays and various family gatherings, we have 5 of our 6 children celebrating birthdays. Their birthday is the one day of the year that gets to be all about them. We make special meals (all the meals – breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks — it starts to feel like “Eat Like a Hobbit Day”), do the birthday child’s chores and do any special activities requested (within reason — tea parties – yes!, mountain climbing – no). We survive by following a few tips.
We may have a busy day of errands before us, but we try to always fit in some sort of math, reading and writing. We may get creative meeting this requirement, but these are my minimum for the day to be a school day. Grocery day? Adding each item’s price and comparing to the amount paid at checkout is great for my early learners. My older girls keep us on budget — they compare items and may alter the meal plan or recipe to take advantage of sales – or seasonal splurges (speculaas cookies anyone?) Reading is generally not a problem, my older girls always have a book or two going. I pull out our beloved Five in a Row manuals and make memories with our younger children, introducing them to old favorites like “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, “Katy and the Big Snow” by Virginia Lee Burton, “A New Coat for Anna” by Harriet Ziefert or “Snowflake Bentley” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Writing can be as simple as copywork of Christmas hymns, writing letters to relatives or freewriting with this freebie from Home School Adventure. When we cover the basics, our time is freed up for more of the fun.
We do most of our learning family-style. That means some of my children’s particular interests are not always incorporated into our learning. Now is the perfect time to let them dig-in to those interests. My eldest daughter is doing her own study on coffee. That doesn’t mean she is trying all the holiday specials at Starbucks, but really putting forth effort into the different varieties of coffee, how coffee gets from plant to cup and all kinds of things I never would have thought of. She is documenting it all with notebook pages.
Some of my other children are doing lapbooks. Many of our favorite lapbook units come from A Journey Through Learning and In the Hands of a Child. These short weeks are a great time to explore your child’s interests and other styles of learning. The time commitment is short enough to not be tied to something that doesn’t work and gives you a chance to see if this might be your new favorite thing.
Let the Season be the Focus
We also look to the season – both the weather and the holidays and traditions – to guide our studies. Some years we dig into the hymns, movies and scripture of Christ’s birth. Other years, we may really focus all of our studies around nature and the change to winter. NaturExplorers has many units that go well with this season – Snow and Ice and Coping with the Cold are two favorites from the Winter Bundle. Learn how other cultures and countries celebrate the season with a quick “trip” around the world. This year, we will be learning all about The Nutcracker and Tchaikovsky with resources from Homegrown Learners, Maestro Classics and Enrichment Studies.
No matter how you do school (or don’t) during the holidays, the important thing is to not lose sight of what matters. Time with family and friends, keeping traditions and making memories without adding stress — it is possible. Your own family’s production of a favorite Christmas story – as elaborate or as casual as you want to do it – is a recipe for memory making. Baking holiday cookies makes delicious memories and stretches math muscles.
Looking for more homeschooling and holiday thoughts? You can find more with the Homeschool Review Crew.
Fellow bloggers from the IAHE (Indiana Association of Home Educators) have shared their tips for homeschooling through the holidays.