I’m about to reveal some homeschool lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way.
Never try and attend the cheap movie during the public school’s spring break…it is better when you get the movie theater practically to yourselves. Purchase your own copy of Cranberry Thanksgiving to read. It will never ever be available at the library when you want to use it. Always take “snow days” when the first of spring arrives…your days will go so much smoother when the littles can shed off the effects of cabin fever.
And the most important thing learned? Never school in December. Or at least think about lighting your load considerably.
It can be NUTS if you try and hammer out your usual workload and drag out those textbooks every morning. Let me be more specific. You will GO nuts.
Take it from somebody who has been doing this a year or eleven. Take the month of December to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. December holds plenty of opportunity for learning and exploring.
So how does when quit homeschooling in December? It’s fairly easy. Here is the first step. Right now. Step away from the workbooks! Pack up those #2 pencils for a couple of weeks and have some fun. You won’t need a lot of money….just a little bit of inspiration.
Let me share a little of what we do every December. Some of it almost feels like learning!
We always start off with an Advent devotion. We have tried out a few. One we have loved is Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide. We have used it more than once or twice. An Advent devotion helps us keep centered on the Reason for the Season. It also provides a perfect excuse to curl up on the couch as a family!
This is the best time of year to take advantage of some of those free or nearly free Christmas concerts. One year we even got to attend an Opera. Some of your kiddos might even be performing in a Christmas recital of some sort. It is a great opportunity to invite neighbors or friends who might not have family to enjoy the holidays with. Those beginner band Christmas concerts can be quite an event! Though an advanced warning might be appropriate. Not all appreciate the beginner band experience.
Just a few years ago, my son and I baked over 60 loaves of small bread loaves. They went to church friends, family and neighbors. We have previously made candy, cookies and even Snowman Soup to deliver. Making goodies for shut-ins and neighbors is not just a good deed…it also helps with those math and reading skills! I am not above sneaking school in where we can. The best homeschool lessons are taught from everyday life!
Every year without fail, we read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This has been a tradition so long that we now own a variety of editions of the book, a few audio versions and several movie adaptations. We are serious about our Dickens! I’ve even set back a box of Earl Grey Tea this year just for the occasion.
Each year, I make some sort of handmade gift. This started when I was a little girl. My mom had us kids design placemats for our grandmother. They were made out of odds and ends of worn clothing and fabric scraps. My mom then stitched around our creations and voila! We were in the placemat design business. What started as a way to give gifts with little money turned into a tradition. This year I’m making soap and a few other goodies featuring essential oils.
Many, many years ago my husband and I worked in the children’s ministry at a large church. For a Christmas gift, a sweet homeschooling family blessed us with a calendar. This calendar was professionally printed, but the artwork inside the calendar had been done by the children. It was such a precious gift. It so inspired me that when I had a family of my own I let my son design our Christmas card. He is not as interested anymore (he’s a teenager), but that precious crooked Christmas tree card is still one of my favorites.
Have you noticed that even the outside smells like Christmas? One of our favorite things to do is to take brisk walks as the afternoon turns evening. The Christmas lights shine brightly and we love to smell the wood burning and feel the frosty air nip our noses. Hot Cocoa tastes even better after a walk around the block.
We love to spend December evenings humming out our favorite Christmas carols and talking about favorite Christmas memories. Christmas is also a beautiful time to share the testimony of God’s love and what the gift of His Son has done in our lives. Have your kids heard your testimony? We need to share the Good News!
Every December a puzzle sits out ready for someone to come and work her. One year we tried to put together a puzzle that featured at least a thousand snowman faces. We promised to never subject ourselves to that kind of stress again.
December is the perfect month for long waffle breakfasts at the kitchen table and extended Christmas tea’s in the afternoon. Besides our Dickens tradition, these moments are perfect for great Christmas read-alouds and poetry. I have seen some families wrap their Christmas books up and open one to read every day. There are beautiful books that tell the story of Jesus, like The Stable Where Jesus Was Born or some traditional favorites such as The Polar Express or ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I always round up all of our Christmas books and place them in a big basket. That way they are always on hand for those long waffle breakfasts.
There will be other traditions and rituals that will be unique to your family. Perhaps you like to carol at a local nursing home or serve at a soup kitchen. We volunteer at our church’s free community Christmas meal. Maybe you open your home on Christmas Day to those who don’t have any family to celebrate the season with. It is a beautiful way to share His Love.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate our Savior’s birth it is important to remember that those precious memories our kiddos will have of their childhood will be the ones made up of small moments.
It’s okay to set aside our traditional schedules and schemes for a more meaningful and much calmer December. You’ll be glad you did.
Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining