With Halloween coming up in a week, you’ll in the midst of the holiday crunch before you know it. If you’re homeschooling, you already know how difficult it can be to keep the house liveable, much less company-ready. Many homeschoolers plan to take the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day off – focusing on holidays and relaxing. However, just as many homeschoolers, ambitious at the start of the year, opt to follow the local school schedule or to continue school up to the day before a holiday. Homeschoolers in the second group are usually starting to regret their ambitious planning just about now. Don’t despair!
If you celebrate Halloween, you’ll get a taste of holiday-frenzy in a few days. The closer it gets, the harder it is for kids to sit still or focus on their work. If you are trying to homeschool, get and keep the house clean and ready for guests, prepare meals and/or bake AND do all the necessary shopping and errand-running, something is going to give – most likely your sanity. The younger your children are, the tougher it is to stick to routine-as-usual during the holiday season. Luckily, it’s possible to keep a semblance of a routine, enjoy the holidays and keep homeschooling in the picture.
School-light is the solution. Reading aloud and together is the single best thing you can do with your child. Keep reading. Try reading a holiday-related book right after breakfast and start a cozy chapter book to read each night as a family. Those two reading sessions will be the book ends of your day. During the day, let the kids help with holiday cooking and baking and you’ve covered math! Discuss holiday traditions around the world, maybe try a craft or add something new to your own family traditions – history/social studies. If you are hosting a meal or guests, have the kids help with the cleaning and decorating. This definitely counts as Home-Ec – and, depending on how dirty neglected spots of your house are, it can even count as science!
Cut yourself some slack. The Martha Stewart job is taken. Things do not need to be perfect! The shortest child gets to dust the baseboards with dryer sheets – they are awesome for this job. Older kids can learn to clean bathrooms, fold towels, sort socks, put new sheets on a bed and set a table properly. Let them do the jobs you assign. Resist the urge to “fix” their work if they have made a valiant effort. Grandma will recover if the forks are on the right instead of the left if she knows “Junior” set the beautiful table.
Be aware of school holidays, particularly if your children have neighborhood friends. Sometimes, it’s better to send everyone out to play than it is to be repeatedly interrupted by neighbors knocking and asking “Is school done yet?” If you are friendly with your neighbors, arrange a trade (one day or even just a morning or afternoon) where one of you runs errands while the other entertains the kids. You can get a lot accomplished in a kid-free morning!!
Finally, remember one of the best things about homeschooling is that it isn’t school-at-home, it’s part of your life, just as holidays are part of your life. You can adjust school to meet the needs in your life. The needs will change from year-to-year, but no matter what you do, your kids will be learning. Learning is not limited to time at the kitchen table! Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your children’s excitement. Enjoy the change of pace!