Mistletoe, warm gingerbread, the cold biting your nose as you sail down a slope on a sled, reading Christmas stories cuddled up next to a warm fireplace with the people you love most; it’s not hard to find goodness and beauty during this wonderful time of year! However, figuring out how to fit all this wonder into an already busy homeschool schedule can feel daunting!
At The Good and the Beautiful, everything we do is focused on helping to simplify the lives of busy homeschool families like yours. We know that the holiday season can be especially challenging, and we hope that the ideas in this article will help you to find goodness and beauty in this season, rather than feeling overwhelmed.
How can you plan your holiday homeschooling so it becomes what you want it to be? First, ponder how you want your home to feel and what your greatest hope is for the season. As you ponder, write a list and categorize it into three columns:
- Things that matter the most to you.
- Things you would really like to do but have less importance.
- Things that would be nice but are not essential.
Next, we suggest sitting down with your family and sharing your thoughts with them. Show them your list and have each member of your family create one of their own. Have fun with this and allow them to think big. Write all the ideas down and enjoy the process. Be sure to ask them how they want the holidays to feel. Help them to visualize this by sharing examples of years past–good memories as well as times when things didn’t go well. Tell them that, while you can do many things this season, you may not be able to do everything. Next, very deliberately decide together which items will go onto your calendar.
We asked a few incredible homeschool mothers what things they do to keep their holidays focused. We wanted to know if they still continued to homeschool full time, or did they make modifications? Do they like to fill the month with activities outside of the home, or do they prefer to keep the focus in the home?
Ashley Nielsen, homeschool mother of 3, shared with us, “The busy feeling of winter and holiday festivities can quickly seep into our attitudes and homeschool as we try to fit everything in. I often feel like a mother bear with her cubs, and I am reminded that slowing down and changing our schedule is best when those winter storms keep us cooped up inside. Sometimes, instead of focusing on getting our regular line up of studies completed, we choose instead to spend frigid days tucked in our cozy home enjoying books, complete with a cup of hot cocoa. What greater gift could we give and receive than a simplified, joyful holiday season?”
One of the biggest reasons that Amy Drorbaugh, a homeschool mother of four, decided to homeschool was so that her family could create more bonding opportunities. During this time of year, she prefers to focus on natural learning rather than planned lessons. She shares, “Making a batch of cookies is a great time to learn about fractions, abbreviations, following directions, and kitchen safety. Service projects allow opportunities to teach lessons of gratitude, hard work, and love. Christmas crafts can improve hand/eye coordination and strengthen little hands.”
There is a very special calm that can prevail in the home when a family sets aside time to search the scriptures together. Brooklyn Braithwaite shares her family’s most cherished tradition: “We love to find lots of books at the library about Christ’s birth and read one each morning during morning devotional. Sometimes we simply read the story straight out of Luke. There’s something about reading of Christ’s birth that brings such a special spirit to our homeschool and helps us focus on Christ during the Christmas season.”
One of the advantages of homeschooling is the extra time for extracurricular activities, which often results in several Christmas recitals and programs. Anna Palfreyman shares her insights on how she balances these demands: “All five of my children are heavily involved in music, and it seems like there is a recital every other day during the month of December. I’ve had to tell my children, and myself, that ‘we can’t do it all.’ We focus on the performances that are top priority, and sometimes we have to say ‘no’ when well-meaning individuals ask for our participation in a community or church event. It would be amazing if we could attend everything, but we know that if our focus is not in the right place, our family feels stressed and unhappy.”
Before adding another item to your “to-do” list, or scheduling yet another event to attend, or attempting to tackle that Christmas craft board on Pinterest, take some time to reflect on the goals you and your family set, and ensure that you stay focused on what matters most.
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We hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas season with your family!