Written by Shawna Wingert of Different by Design Learning
I used to give up somewhere around December 8th or so.
The Thanksgiving rush seemed to drift into a chaotic mix of Christmas decorations, more complicated meal plans, and way too much wrapping paper.
When my children were younger, it was easier to just stop homeschooling until after the New Year. I loved it!
But as my boys have become teenagers, their need for consistency and structure has increased. They rely on more than just my presence for stability (I miss those younger years!).
Now they seem to do best when we keep our daily routine for as long as possible. This means I’ve had to figure out how to homeschool through December.
It works for them.
Not always so much for me.
By December, I’m tired. I’m ready to cozy up with hot chocolate and read. I prefer to wrap presents at 3 PM instead of 8 PM. I want to grocery shop for holiday meals during the day, on a Tuesday, when my introverted self can avoid the people-y-ness of the holiday season.
In order to make this time of year work for all of us, I have come up with tips and tricks that not only help me hold on to a shred of my sanity, but also keep my boys on track until Christmas Eve.
If you have decided to do the same (though remember: taking the month off is fine, too!), here are four ideas on how to homeschool through December that might help you like they’ve helped us.
How to Homeschool through December and Stay Sane
1. Incorporate Project Based Learning
For some reason, planning one big project per child in the month of December is easier than trying to stick to a schedule of our usual subject rotation.
My youngest is setting up a blog all about Harry Potter as he re-reads the books, and my oldest is working on an audio set-up for his computer. Both “count” as learning, and give me a little extra time to get things done while they happily focus on their own interests.
2. Accept Limitations
2020 or not, I did all my shopping online again this year. It’s the easiest way to get the job done.
I purchased gifts that I knew would be either fun or useful, and did not overthink any of them. (There were more gift cards than usual.) While I deeply enjoy giving gifts to my loved ones, I also realize that this is not the year for anything elaborate.
Because I am trying to treat my role in our homeschool like a job, I need to protect most of our daytime hours for “work.” So I accept my own self-imposed limitations for the season and move on.
3. Make It Fun
Although my boys still crave routine and structure, they are just as excited as I am about the holiday season. This time of year is perfect for incorporating fun activities into our schooling (just like one would in an actual classroom at school).
We do even more hands-on learning than usual, and also incorporate movement and sensory activities into our days as much as possible.
This year, I’ve asked my boys to come up with a budget for the gifts they’d like to give. I’m calling it math.
4. Wind Down Slowly
The closer we get to December 24th, the more we begin to relax the routine. By the last week, we will almost exclusively use our school time for Christmas related activities.
Here is what we have planned:
Baking Christmas Cookies
Cutting out and hanging snowflakes
Watching a classic Christmas movie and discussing the different characters
Drive around with hot chocolate, look at Christmas decorations and listen to audio books
The holidays and homeschooling don’t have to be in conflict with one another. In fact, by incorporating the season into our learning plans, I’ve found both become much more enjoyable.
I wish you a holiday season filled with both love and learning!
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