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It took me a while to figure out how to homeschool through the holidays. We first began homeschooling right before Thanksgiving. I was determined to ‘do it right’ and we did a full traditional day of schoolwork every day that our local public school was open. We did school work all day and fun holiday activities all evening. That meant that I lesson planned, shopped, wrapped gifts, and cleaned until the wee hours of the morning every single night. We also went on a last minute trip out of town, hosted Christmas Eve for our families, and celebrated our wedding anniversary.
It was exhausting!
I was so concerned about screwing up that we didn’t take advantage of one of the biggest homeschool benefits – freedom.
Freedom to adapt our school day to whatever we need it to be. Freedom to enjoy the holidays. Even freedom to put the school work aside if that will work best. Now I know that I shouldn’t have been so concerned about messing up my daughter’s education. There is room in the season for schoolwork and holiday fun.
Every homeschool family handles their schedule differently, and I have learned over time that there is no single right way. Some families work best staying in their normal routine. Other families take a month or so completely off of school. You have the freedom to do what works for you!
After many years of homeschooling, this is how my family manages to homeschool through the holidays.
How to Homeschool Through the Holidays
Plan for days off
Take an honest look at your calendar and call off school on days that are super busy. We typically go out of town for a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I don’t plan any school work for those days. Instead, we focus on spending time as a family and making memories.
Homeschoolers certainly do not need to follow the local school schedules, but I always have grumpy kids if they are sitting around the dining room table working on grammar while our neighbors play together outside. We start and stop our Christmas break with our public school. The school calendar is available on the district website.
Homeschooling through the holidays does NOT mean that you homeschool without breaks.
Incorporate the holidays in lessons
Kids are already excited about the upcoming holidays, so we might as well capitalize on the excitement and transfer that to lessons. Pinterest is full of holiday themed lessons. We do some of our normal schoolwork, but we add in fun seasonal lessons. These Christmas writing prompts are sure to get the creative juices flowing. Some fun lessons can even be disguised as Advent activities. Historic buildings are often decorated for the season. Taking a tour might count as a history field trip AND an advent activity.
If you want to make this planning super easy, check out the Silverdale Press White House unit studies. They offer a Thanksgiving unit and a Christmas unit. The Thanksgiving unit study goes beyond Pilgrims. It covers topics such as how Sarah Josepha Hale convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, Franklin Roosevelt and the 1939 Thanksgiving uproar, and the history of the presidential turkey pardon. The Christmas unit includes 24 activities that weave Christmas and history together.
Read holiday books
Reading holiday books is an easy way to add a little holiday flair to the day. Snuggle up with your kids and a sweet holiday book or two. If you have enough time, reserve a few holiday books from your local library. Seasonal books go fast though. Amazon carries a wide variety of holiday children’s books. You can even arrange a simple book swap with friends and neighbors.
I have book lists to help you plan your library reservations:
Give yourself grace
Even the best laid plans don’t always go perfectly. Give yourself grace. Somehow it is easier to deal with unexpected surprises if you are in the right frame of mind. Embrace the mantra people over perfect! People are far more important than accomplishing everything on your to do list. You count too. Holidays usually leave moms exhausted. Some of that seems unavoidable, but don’t forget to do a little self care too. Eat well. Exercise, sleep as much as is realistic, and do something to fill your own tank every once in a while.
Be realistic about what can be accomplished while still enjoying the magic of the season.
Comment below telling me how you homeschool through the holidays!