When life gets busy and stressful through the holidays, our homeschool environment can be a safe haven of peace and calm.
Ok, ok… I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.
If you could peek into my home during the holiday season, you’d see that things here are even more chaotic than usual. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about!
What does your homeschool feel like through the holidays?
Do you start to feel frustrated and unproductive? Do the lesson plans fall by the wayside? Or does the nagging to get done so you can hurry off to the next thing begin to suck all the joy out of your home?
In our first couple of years of homeschooling, we excitedly put aside our regular studies and dove into all things holiday-themed. And then, for a year or two, we took deliberate, long breaks for trips to visit family and friends. And then, somewhere, we lost any sort of rhythm and started limping through the holidays to the new year, where we’d wake up and find ourselves feeling like we needed a break from the holiday break. But what had we really accomplished? It was so frustrating!
Can you work with the hectic?
I soon learned that I needed to have a variety of ideas at the ready for these winter months, and so I put together a list.
There are things on the list, of course, that are specifically “schooly” and holiday-themed, but there are also those things that I find myself trying to fit in and never quite getting around to.
Using a pocket of time in an otherwise chaotic season to check these things off my list helps us to feel productive when the lack of progress on the lesson plans might threaten to make me think otherwise.
Here are my top ideas for how to use our holiday time effectively.
What would you put on your list?
Get a taste of other cultures by learning about holidays around the world.
There are great resources for printables like the unit exploring traditions from other cultures (from Traci Clausen), or following a fun fictional character in this adventure from Lyndsey Kuster. Book lists like SimplyKinder’s for Christmas Around the World are good guides for taking advantage of what the local libraries already have available for you.
Embrace creativity – and some glitter – and go all-in with handmade decorations and gifts.
From holiday wreaths to soup mix in a jar, there is no shortage of ways to stretch the craft muscles through the holidays. Check out my tween’s Pinterest board for all kinds of gift ideas.
Personally, I’m all about the snowpeople! (As in, I like my snow fake, people!) There are a ton of cute crafts on this theme that you can use for decor or gifts. I love the simple ideas from i heart arts and crafts for the littles, and All Beige’s more sophisticated list for the older kids… or, I’ll be honest, me!
Take a break from your regularly-scheduled lesson plans and invest in some unit or interest-led studies.
If you have been following on the blog or Facebook, you’ll know I love my unit studies! But I don’t like to overcomplicate anything. You can keep the units simple and stick with a holiday theme, or you can take the opportunity to follow the rabbit trails you’ve been putting off in favor of your regular curriculum.
Make time for those field trips on your bucket list.
It’s a beautiful time of year to get outside! It’s generally not too cold here in eastern North Carolina to make a day trip to the coast and visit an aquarium (for free!). If you’re lucky, it’ll even be warm enough to spend some time digging in the sand.
What about those little museums and explorations you’ve put off for less crowded times? Hike in a local park and take in all of the signs that winter is knocking on the door.
How about a snake search on the Eno? I’ll just let y’all go to that one and you can tell me about it later, ok?
Binge on documentaries.
Light the fire, pop some popcorn and cozy up for a documentary-a-day! There are tons of ways to find great non-fiction programs, but my current favorites are Disney+ and CuriosityStream. You could cover science, geography, history, music, art, math, and so much more!
And if you’re concerned about screen time, setting up a timeframe like a holiday break, and rules for how much per day (Docu-bingeing is a thing – I just named it) is a good way to make it special and keep it from taking over your homeschool year-round.
Get out in your community for some acts of service.
‘Tis the season when many charities and volunteer organizations are stretched to their limits helping those in need.
Do a challenge.
Is anyone in your family a little competitive? Maybe you could try a 7, 30 or 24-day challenge! Who can read the most minutes or do the most math facts?
Maybe you could take on a goal as a family, like playing a different board game every day, or performing a daily random act of kindness! (And if you do something like that, please share and tag #thrc_RAK on Instagram and spread that inspiration around!)
Make your own development a priority.
You don’t HAVE to stuff every available minute with educational activities. You can take some time for self-care, community building with friends, and, if you must be crazy-productive, well, then, how about pulling a book of your own to-be-read stack and cozying up with some tea and a blanket?
Purge and organize the clutter that has accumulated since August.
Do some pre-Boxing Day boxing! By this time of year, the homeschool space that started out organized and prepped in August may have become — well — a little unorganized.
Clean up those unfinished crafts, make piles of unused curriculum to sell or give away, and get things ready for your return to routine once the holiday break is over.
(Did you know you can hire an elf to help you with this? Ok, well, not quite an elf, but check out Consider It Done and their elf package for some help with that pre-holiday cleanup!)
Review how far the kids have come this year and evaluate where you’re headed next.
For those days when you just can’t squeeze in the lessons, try some journaling for yourself! Look back on your school year so far. What’s working? What’s not? What would you like to do more or less of?
Make notes of the special memories you’ve had this year. Jot down some ideas for what to study next based on what the sparks of interest you’ve seen!
I hope you find something here that can help with the hectic, and keep your homeschool spirit on track as we close out another decade.
Is there a particular aspect of the holidays you find challenging? Let me know in the comments!