Planning to homeschool through the holidays? Here’s how to maintain joy and make it happen without adding stress or extra obligations to an already-busy Christmas season.
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I totally understand why it seems a little overwhelming to think of not taking an extended break during the Christmas season. After all, Christmas is a wonderful season full of hope, worship, and gatherings with family and friends.
Since homeschooling affords the freedom to take time off during the holidays, why not take advantage of it and focus on all the extra goodness that come with the Christmas season?
Your reasons for homeschooling through the holidays may look different from mine, but here’s a quick rundown of why we choose to keep going:
- My kids need the structure our homeschool routine provides for them. They get stir-crazy if they go more than a few days without homeschooling.
- Getting back to normal after a full stop can be a nightmare. We prefer to keep things semi-normal and avoid the back-to-school fuss altogether.
- We don’t take extended breaks from homeschooling unless we have special travel plans. We end up stressed and feeling behind rather than refreshed and grateful for a break.
Now that you know we we keep homeschooling through the holidays, I’m happy to share my best tips for making it an easy and joy-filled experience.
How to Homeschool Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Joy
1. Know your limits.
There’s no way to successfully homeschool through the holidays without being realistic about your schedule. In fact, overscheduling yourself and your family is a surefire way to zap every bit of joy from the season.
If you have a full month of extra gatherings and holiday events to attend, you simply can’t have a full homeschool schedule. If you only have a few extra things sprinkled into your calendar, you’ll probably be able to maintain a fairly normal schedule if you wish to do so.
Remember, it won’t be fair to you or your kids to expect a normal outcome when time is limited and distractions are everywhere. That’s why it’s important to know your limits and adjust your homeschool goals to reflect your plans for the holiday season.
2. Do less.
Along with knowing your limits, doing less is a crucial part of maintaining joy while homeschooling through the holidays. A lighter load creates margin in your schedule, allows you to savor the season, and gives you room to make it truly different from your normal routine.
That sounds good in theory, but what does it really mean? The basic idea is to homeschool like usual for part of the holiday season, but lighten your load as the holiday approaches.
What works best for my family is to continue our normal homeschool plans up to a certain point, but then allow each subject to taper off naturally. That means the first week of December usually looks pretty standard for us. By the second and third week, however, our schedule starts to thin out.
Tapering off means we don’t advance to the next lesson in our curriculum until January if we finish a math chapter or language arts unit during the second week of December. That doesn’t mean we’re not learning after that point. We’re just not as structured and I often turn to gameschooling, holiday events in our city, and educational TV choices to help out.
This approach keeps us from making abrupt stops and allows us to learn. It also helps us wrap up the loose ends neatly before we add any holiday-inspired extras to our homeschool plans.
3. Include the holiday in your homeschool plans.
Once your schedule thins out, incorporate the holiday into your homeschool plans. Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. In fact, it can actually be pretty easy to pull off.
Need a few ideas for inspiration? Here are some to consider:
- Do this Advent-themed nature study. (We look forward to this each year!)
- Add holiday-themed read alouds. This can be as simple as listening to A Christmas Carol on the Audible app.
- Make time for art. See my Christmas-themed mixed media projects for ideas.
- Research the holiday traditions for the era and place you’re covering in history.
- Add Christmas to your music appreciation plans.
A Christmas Around the World focus is another great way to include the holiday in your homeschool plans. Consider the following:
- work through an open-and-go Christmas Around the World Online Unit Study.
- study Christmas traditions for a single country or region.
- travel the world through Christmas books.
4. Celebrate the season.
Most importantly, don’t get so caught up in your good intentions — homeschool or otherwise — that you miss the reason for the holiday itself.
Have you ever heard admonitions about being so busy serving in church that there’s no time to be with Jesus? That issue can also come up while homeschooling through the holidays because doing all the things is never the key to maintaining joy.
If we aren’t careful, we can focus so much on keeping calm and homeschooling on or doing all the Christmas things that we never savor what we work so hard to set apart. Friend, that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish by homeschooling through the holidays.
I say this often, but it’s worth repeating: every good thing isn’t yours to grab. Something can be good without being good for you.
Without a doubt, there are things that have to happen in order to make the holidays a special time, but be selective about those things so you can let celebration be your top priority this Christmas season. Celebration, on a personal level and collectively with your family, has to be the goal because without it there’s no way to appreciate the gift we have in Jesus.
In conclusion, remember that homeschooling at Christmastime doesn’t have to be fussy or exhausting. Slow down, lighten your load, and make time for celebration while you learn. Those quick tips make it possible to homeschool through the holidays and keep the joy in your Christmas season.
Need more Christmas ideas for your homeschool? Here are some other posts to enjoy:
What about you? Do you have tips for homeschooling during the holidays? We would love to hear about them in the comments below. 🙂