THE HOLIDAYS. Trust me — the ‘all caps’ for that phrase are intentional! Each year, as the holiday season met the normal chaos of military life for our family, it felt like the days ticked by at warp speed! For a few years, I mixed in more than a cupful of guilt as our regular homeschooling regime kept being overtaken by our endless holiday ‘to do list.’ The opposite approach – trying to let go of longstanding traditions or bypassing new, fun holiday activities – didn’t work either. I felt like a self-branded Grinch as I rigidly held onto the homeschool schedule!
Finally, after a near-midnight New Year’s Eve reflection session, I decided there had to be a workable medium. I was determined to find a way to foster the season’s celebrations while fulfilling the necessities of my children’s education. This resolution stuck and solidly became the foundation of my top three (3) tips for homeschooling through the holidays!
This is a key element of our homeschool on a good day… but even more so during the holiday season. We already benefit from the use of an online curriculum which enables the kids to work independently while I tackle the orders of the day! I’ve found that we can adjust our hours for classes or do lessons on alternate days to attend one of the holiday functions on (or off!) base. We could even (*gasp*) take a day off if needed! The children survived, as did I.
2. Adaptive Homeschooling
Carrying the theme of flexibility a bit further, I suggest looking for ways to incorporate learning opportunities within your holiday festivities. This is by far my favorite tip of all as it saves TIME… a precious commodity for any military family! I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how much the kids have retained from these holiday homeschool moments! These ideas can help get you started:
- Holiday Shopping: As you head to the commissary or perhaps while the kids are creating a wish list for grandparents ‘back home’, talk to them about the importance of budgeting. Older students can incorporate their experience with lessons from Personal Finance / Economics as they plan for gift purchases.
- Reduce. Reuse. Recycle: This season presents additional chances to turn this catchphrase into action. Children may purge their closets and/or toy boxes. Some items may be donated. Others may be turned into new treasures through repurposing. Ultimately, children may discover these science lessons have a much larger (positive) impact on the planet than they realized.
- History: Depending on where you are stationed, select an era and then take a trip back in time to experience the holidays during that period. Bonus points if you’re able to tie it in with a current social studies lesson. (Remember – many museums give free or greatly discounted rates for active duty and veterans!)
- The Arts: The holiday season is absolutely flooded with chances to expose children to the Arts in a variety of ways. Sing-a-longs, symphony performances, theatre, ballet… in person or even watching at home. Discuss composers, authors, etc. and then allow them to dive deeper by exploring their works.
- Family Holiday Newsletter: Creative writing at its finest! Challenge children to produce a positive twist on your adventure with the MP’s. Ha! Have fun!
- Kitchen Math: Doubling or tripling a recipe with fractions, measuring, mixing and even witnessing the chemical transformation from gooey to goodness – all useful skills! Yes, your kitchen will be messier if the young ones lend a hand with the holiday baking… but lessons and memory makers can be found here!
- World Culture: Students studying a foreign language may wish to discover how people around the world celebrate the holidays! Perhaps attend a multi-cultural celebration in your area or view online.
3. Old-fashioned Story Time
This ‘tradition’ began initially during a deployment. Serving as a means to keep connected, my spouse spent time recording an entire book for us to play one chapter at a time while he was gone during the holidays. We have continued to include read-alouds as a valuable part of each holiday season, with everyone from toddlers to teens getting involved! This time gathered together as a family serves as a de-stressor for us all. We also feel strongly about the connection between reading and academic success.
Ultimately, we hope our children will treasure all of these moments and develop a lifetime passion for learning! How have you salvaged homeschooling through the holidays for your family? Have questions or need suggestions? Post it in the comments!