How do you homeschool five kids, do all the gift giving, holiday activities, drive 16 hours to visit family, and also work part-time in several different jobs? Well, I’m here doing it, so it seems I must know the answer. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips I’ve gathered up over the years.
People say to me a lot, “I just don’t know how you do it all.” To be honest, sometimes I don’t either. But despite what people might think, my life is not hectic. I never think of myself as frazzled or harried. I am SUPER efficient with my time, and have a purpose for nearly every minute of the day. And that includes scheduled “relaxation” time and quality time with each child. I’m also quite strict with academics also. My kids start studying for the SAT’s in middle school, and I check nearly ever grade, every day.
But when you’re a homeschooling Mom, and things get busy, you can easily start to feel guilty or worried about how much school is actually getting done. Despite my scheduling and goals, things always seem to have a way of falling through the cracks. In the past, I’ve shared tips on how to homeschool when Mom is sick. And many of these tips are similar. But the holidays bring specific opportunities for homeschooling families!
How to Homeschool During the Holidays: The MOST Important Thing
The absolute first thing to remember is grace. Grace for your children, and grace for yourself. This is my first and most important tip. Grace upon grace upon grace. This really applies to any Mom or any family, but for Moms trying to homeschool around the holidays, this is vitally important. It won’t be Christmas all year. You won’t be visiting with grandparents and uncles and cousins all year. Those math pages will get done. Grace. Be kind to yourself, and kind to your children. Everything else comes after this most important tip for how to homeschool during the holidays.
Replace Workbooks with Giving Back
Instead of making sure that every spelling word is perfect, or completing that last craft, why not give back to your community? We have been regularly volunteering for years at a local nursing home and also at a local homeless shelter. Some days, we are so busy, it seems it might be better not to go at all. But in reality, serving is more of a blessing to us than to those we serve. When we bring meals to homeless families, my children are reminded of their blessings in a way that words could never do. And when they have to be extremely patient with elderly men and women with advanced dementia, they are learning kindness in a way I just can’t do at home.
These lessons cannot be given in a book. They are learned only in practice. And the holidays are a very special time to give back and to find ways to serve. There’s something every person can do, at any age or ability level.
Integrate Holiday Traditions Into Learning
For our family, we never tire of hearing the story of the Savior’s birth. We study it year after year, and there’s some new piece of the Gospel that speaks to each of us different each year. We read the Christmas story together as a family, we sing Christmas carols and hymns, and we remember the Savior’s birth.
Where we live, in Orlando, there are so many learning opportunities. As you know, we love to learn at Disney! And during the holidays, Epcot celebrates the Festival of the Holidays. During this very special holiday event, there are lots of opportunities to learn about holidays around the world. There are storytellers from many different countries, as well as musical performances from different traditions from around the world. Epcot is a great place for homeschoolers year round, and especially at Christmas!
Make Travel a Learning Opportunity
Our family travels every Christmas. We travel about 1,000 miles one way each Christmas season, at the minimum. We usually make this a road trip, so there’s lot of car time! How can homeschoolers make this time educational? There are so many opportunities! When we think about how to homeschool during a road trip, there are so many calculations that can be done, reading that can be accomplished, and more. Not only can you create some actual learning or reading time in the car, but travel is experiential learning in itself. Think of it as a major field trip!
Are you going somewhere new this holiday season? What’s the weather like there? What are the natural resources of the area? You don’t need to create a whole poster board, but just a few minutes of learning about a new area can make it much more memorable for your children. When you learn about something, and then experience it firsthand, it solidifies that learning in your brain in a very unique and lasting way.
Focus on the Reason for the Season
In our home, Christmas is a sacred time of year. It’s a very important part of our faith, and also part of our family life. Whether you are religious or not, focusing on the things that really matter in life will help you not just survive, but thrive this holiday season. How to homeschool during the holidays? Maybe just don’t. Or do, with a focus on the true meaning of the season. Your children will not always be little. Your home won’t always be so busy and full of dirty laundry and dishes. It’s a season. A beautiful, busy, hectic, momentary season.
How to homeschool during the holidays? Maybe just don’t.
Many of my homeschooling friends structure their year so that they have a long break for the holidays. Sometimes this break is even a month long! For us, since we are part of a hybrid homeschooling program, our schedule is set by our school. And similarly to public schools in our area, we have two weeks off of school. So the simple answer to how to homeschool during the holidays is just don’t!
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a homeschooling Mom who’s quite focused on academics. For that reason, I used to bring workbooks and extra practice for our long car rides. It just seemed like too much time to not be working! But you know what I’ve learned after ten years of homeschooling? To relax more. I still care a great deal about academics. But I also realized, from the first to the fifth child, that taking a two or even three week break won’t ruin their school year. They will still read and learn and experience new things and grow.
Merry Christmas my friends! Enjoy your break, give yourself grace, and enjoy every moment of your journey.