Christmas can be a magical time. The decorations make our house look festive, there are often yummy smells in the air, our hearts are full as we contemplate giving to others, and our kids are on their best behavior. Well, they’re on their best behavior when they remember they should be.
Unfortunately, Christmas can also be a stressful time. We have many extra demands on our time, there are multiple family commitments which make our weeks hectic, and we often feel like we have to maintain a frenetic pace to keep up. So, how is a homeschool mom supposed to keep teaching lessons around Christmas without becoming overwhelmed?
If you find yourself slammed during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, you may want to consider setting aside your regular curriculum and focusing on other more natural lessons to tackle this time of year.
Here are 8 Easy Ways for Homeschoolers to Avoid Holiday Overwhelm:
1 – Focus on Food
Let your kids help you prepare and taste test different traditional Christmas recipes from around the world. If you Google “Christmas Recipes from Around the World” you will find a plethora of amazing recipes to try. You may decide to try Icelandic Leaf Bread, German Lebkuchen (fruit and spice cookies), or Ethiopian Doro Wat (chicken stew). Let the kids pitch in as much as possible. You can even have them help out with menu creation and with shopping for ingredients.
2 – Focus on Music
Most of us enjoy listening to Christmas carols around the holidays. But honestly, some of the traditional songs have some crazy lyrics. What in the world is “figgy pudding?” “How do you “make the yuletide gay?” What does “auld lang syne” really mean? You can do a whole unit study on various songs and what the lyrics mean. You can also study the back story on why songs such as “Silent Night” and “The 12 Days of Christmas” were written. Fascinating stuff!
3 – Focus on Art
Many artists, famous and otherwise, have created art pieces representing Christmas. Search for them on the internet – or in library books – print several that you like each day and go through them with your kids. See what symbolism you can spot. Try to identify the artistic style. Talk about the country or the time period in which the artist lived.
4 – Focus on Symbolism
When I was a child, I knew that the nativity scene represented the true Christmas story. However, I thought that the star, the tree, the lights, the candy canes, etc were just added onto the holiday for fun. When my boys were little, we did a unit study on the symbolism surrounding Christmas, however, and I was amazed at just how much of it actually represents the birth of Christ. Talk about the various symbols with your kids. If they enjoy notebooking, have them use those techniques to record their findings.
Make decorating the tree, putting up the nativity scene, etc into a family event by playing music, burning candles, eating snacks, and serving hot chocolate or spiced apple cider. By the way, remember that it’s more important that your kids are fully involved than that your tree looks perfect. Let the kids do the majority of the decorating and enjoy their efforts.
5 – Focus on Christmas
Listen to Christmas music, read Christmas books, watch Christmas movies, etc. Don’t expect them to write reports or capture what they’re learning in any way. Just have fun with it!
6 – Focus on Gifts
It can be hard to know what kinds of gifts to give to grandparents. We’ve found that gifts of time and handmade gifts mean more to them than if we run to the store and buy them something. Take some time to find out how you can truly bless your family members this year. Take a trip to the local craft store and choose projects your kids can make for the grandparents, their teachers at church, and their siblings.
7 – Focus on Life Skills
There are usually plenty of activities going on around the holidays without adding the regular homeschool lessons to the mix. Consider involving your kids in these necessary activities and focusing on helping them to learn some life skills. They can do everything from helping to schedule family events, making Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, purchasing presents, and more.
8 – Focus on Compassion
The Christmas season is a time for remembering the birth of Jesus and for spreading love. Consider spending the days leading up to Christmas by doing things for others. Involve your kids in making cookies for neighbors, visiting shut-ins, making a meal for a new mom, visiting a nursing home, caroling, shoveling sidewalks or driveways for others, or sending cards to people who could use encouragement. It can be easy for all of us to become self-absorbed so use this time around the holidays to help our children learn about serving others and being compassionate.
As you can see, there are many ways to change up the lessons over the holidays. The more you can involve your kids in what you’re already doing, the less likely you’ll become overwhelmed by the busy season. Remember that not all learning comes from books. Enjoy this special time with your kids and do what you can to make it memorable!
These are some great suggestions. I never thought of doing a unit study on Christmas carols. What a neat idea!