Get ready for homeschool in January with these Christmas break tasks that will make the new semester run smoothly!
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Homeschooling and Christmas Break Tasks
Ah, Christmas break!! This is a time that all families look forward to. For the homeschool family, however, it might be a rather, um, fluid concept. In my family the kids are often still working on school over break, at least a little bit, to catch back up on some subjects that they might have gotten a month or two a little behind on.
But the kids aren’t the only ones still dabbling in school tasks over Christmas break. A homeschool mom has school-related things she could do over the holidays, too, to help get ready for next semester. I’ve put together a list of tasks that I would like to make it a priority to get to, as far as is reasonable within the conditions of the holiday season. Granted, accomplishing all of them might only happen in an ideal world; but sometimes making a list is enough to cement things into the front of my mind, so they are more likely to get accomplished – compared to when I only have a vague notion of what must be done floating around amidst all the other flotsam in my head.
Here is my list of Christmas break tasks for the homeschool mom:
1. Finish grading schoolwork.
Don’t let those last few tests and papers lie until after the holidays. By then, if there is a mistake you want to talk over with your student, they won’t remember what you’re talking about. Don’t ask me how I know.
2. Put the first semester in the books.
I.e., record all those grades from #1 and come up with final grades for the semester. This is even more important when there is a high school transcript involved. Moms of seniors will need to have the fall semester on the transcript that gets sent to colleges along with the application(s) in early spring. It’s always best to do this type of thing while all the details are fresh in your mind and it still makes sense to you. Trying to reconstruct it later is NOT a good thing. Again, don’t ask me how I know.
3. While we’re talking about record-keeping, be aware that all of the time spent crafting, cooking, or reading together during break can be counted as school time.
(This applies to states like my own state of Missouri that require a minimum number of hours of school each year.) Baking Christmas cookies? That’s school, baby. If it makes you feel better, talk about measurements and doubling recipes while you do it. Making Christmas gifts or cards or cutting snowflakes or hanging lights? Art. Write that time down! Reading some of the great Christmas classics as a family? This is Language Arts; keep track of it. It’s that much less time to account for during the spring semester.
4. Evaluate your current curriculum.
You’ve probably been doing this already in your mind as you’ve been working with it throughout the fall semester. But sometimes fixing that curriculum we think we’re having trouble with is just a matter of re-reading some of the teacher information on how to use it. Many times I have missed an important resource or concept about how to get the most out of a curriculum, and taking time to look over the teacher’s guide again has been very helpful.
5. Order a new curriculum as necessary.
Because maybe, after spending time reviewing it, you have decided that a particular curriculum has got. to. go. Mid-year is a very convenient time to switch if something is not working. And it’s not a horrible thing to start the new book half-way through, either. Don’t feel like you have to make up the entire first semester. Just start where you would be if you had begun in September. Most of the time we can fill in gaps by taking quick peeks back when we need them. For subjects like math that are absolutely dependent on prior learning, often just a quick review of select lessons or chapters is enough to get up to speed. There may even be some from the latter half of the new book that you can skip because the same content was presented in the first half of the old book.
6. Evaluate your schedule.
I don’t know about you, but I am CONSTANTLY tweaking our schedule these days. With teenagers, it’s hard to keep things the same every day. But when the kids were younger and our routine was more consistent, Christmas break was a great time to re-evaluate and make changes. Everybody can benefit from a new day-to-day pattern. What once was boring can become exciting again with just a simple change of routine. This is honestly one of my favorite Christmas break tasks.
7. Personal reading.
I love finding a new book about homeschool – or digging out an old favorite – to read over break. It re-ignites my motivation and reminds me of the big picture. Let me recommend Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child as a must-read, if you haven’t done so already. I also like to indulge myself over break with a few mornings of “reading in”. It’s like sleeping in – you stay in bed, but you’ve got a great fiction book with you; and you just take whatever time is necessary to finish the book before getting up. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?? Every once in awhile I can con someone else into bringing me a cup of coffee or even something to eat. I highly recommend it!
8. Enjoying family.
This should really be number one on the list. In the midst of all the holiday craziness, the priority needs to be lots of hugs and laughter. All of these other homeschool tasks, and even all the holiday preparations, need to come AFTER the simple joys of time spent with those we love. I know I will be drinking in the sight of the college girls, who will be home for an entire month – and we already have plans for watching movies and going shopping together. This is definitely a Christmas break task I can accomplish!
Now that I have made my list, I can keep it in mind as I plan my days over Christmas break. When I have an unexpected free hour, I have something to fill it with – if I don’t decide to take a nap, lol. I probably should have put doing that on the list, also!