One of the most stressful things for me is having day after day of unexpected (or unanticipated) “lost” homeschool days when nothing gets done. I think that what bothers me is not that I don’t expect them this time of year, but that I don’t think about it and acknowledge them in advance. Then I have this nagging feeling like I didn’t live up to some in-the-sky (my own!) expectations. To avoid this, it’s really helpful to get a realistic idea of what’s going to happen if you plan to homeschool through the holiday season… say from mid-November through the first week of January or so.
Homeschool or Not? The first decision your family has to make is to what degree your family will continue homeschooling. Many homeschoolers I know homeschool through the summer, but take off for a month or so around this time of year. Others just take off two weeks or so when the public school students are out. Still others fit in homeschooling here and there as it works for their family. No matter what route your family takes, it is useful to get a realistic idea of what your homeschool can accomplish while juggling the other demands on your family time.
Take Stock of Homeschooling Goals: Jot down some of the units, activities, and basic studies you hope to get through this holiday season. Our list looks something like this:
- Finish the Earth Science Unit
- Finish the West unit and work on (finish?) our Native American research projects
- Holiday math sheets (esp. for ED and DD)
- Christmas crafts (we’ll do a few during our homeschool time)
- Basic reading, writing, math
- Language Arts — Finish the grammar rules review (We’ve done commas, capitalization, apostrophes… and still have semi-colons, hyphens to work through).
Relax on Homeschooling When We Need To: Give yourself permission to miss a day, a couple of days, a week! Homeschooling is a journey not a destination! I suspect the memories of a fun, stress free holiday will be more be more powerful to the kids as adults than any “homeschooling goal” we might have ticked off the ole checklist. It’s important to keep it all in perspective! So, with that in mind, it’s good to have an overview in advance of what days you can homeschool and what days you won’t. Here’s one way to plan for that at a glance (you can click on this to print it out or just do this on your own homeschool planning calendar):
If you want to just print out the free winter calendar pages you see above, you can visit this post and print those pages in full (8 1/2 by 11 size): Free Winter Calendar (Nov. 2014 to Feb. 2015)
The other elements to making the holiday season smooth and stress free are the holiday tips for any busy family.
That busy time of year is definitely upon us. Just this weekend we had to juggle LD and DD’s children’s choir concert, two birthday parties, an auction/party (of course, bringing a dish to share), and LD’s gymnastics meet. All that entailed two separate trips to the grocery store and a run to the store for birthday gifts for friends. Whew! Weekends like that are enough to let your head spin… and it seems like from here on out things only get busier!
So what’s a busy family to do?
Plan, plan, plan — If I had only had the ingredients I needed and if I had thought ahead about the birthday gifts, life would have been much calmer and smoother this past weekend! This time of year, I especially need to know what’s coming out. I already shared the calendar pages I printed out. I need a packet of paper sheets to jot things down in addition to the permanent family calendar this is on the fridge. I use those for meal planning, computer work, holiday and homeschool programs and things that I need to keep track of and interfere with homeschooling:
Take stock of holiday goals/plans — Even before planning out “what to do” and how to fit it all in (see the next section) it’s a good idea to jot down what’s important to you and your family. Some of the things that might be important to your family?
- Sending out holiday cards
- Decorating the inside of the house
- Decorating the outside of the house
- Doing Santa’s Elf Activities like this cute set of Christmas Elf 2014 ideas over at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom
- Work Parties
- Decorating Cookies
- Church services
- Holiday concerts
- Tours of the local holiday lights
- Historic sites, Amusement park holiday tours
- Reading Christmas books
- Christmas caroling
- Family traditions
As you write our your list, you might get a sense of dread and “not again” … Then re-assess what’s truly important. Perhaps bump it off your list this year and don’t get caught up doing things that aren’t meaningful.
House and Holiday Plans — Once you’ve looked through your goals/plans, create your checklist of things that need to be done and start planning early. Write them in pencil on the calendar! When exactly will you make the holiday cards? What day will you do x,y,z Elf Activity? There’s a website called Organized Christmas that has printables for getting every nook and cranny of your home ready for the holidays, keeping track of purchases and more. Jot down your goals each week and try to get things done early. For example, if you know your guest room will be used this holiday season, that’s something you can get done earlier than later as more gets crammed into the December weekends.
Holiday Budget and Gift Buying — It’s a good idea to keep track of the purchases you make this season. There’s not point buying early if you lose track of what you’ve purchased, packages get shoved to the back of the closet to keep them away from prying eyes and then you buy more stuff. There are holiday budget planning pages over at Organized Christmas or gift ideas planner page or you can just create your own. Hubby created a google-doc spread sheet for us this year that’s working well because we can both update the list online.
Whew, I guess I had a lot to say on this topic! Now it’s time to get some things checked off my “to-do” list! Hope you found this post helpful!
May you have some happy homeschooling AND happy holidays in the coming month or two! ~Liesl