Home (school) for the Holidays

December is a busy month. In addition to our normal routine, which can seem overwhelming by itself, we add holiday celebrations. Some families plan their school schedule so they can take the weeks off between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Others scale back and just keep up with math and reading. Still others keep up with all their usual school work and add celebrating on top.

What you do in homeschool during December may be dictated by the age of your children. Older children are hopefully more independent in their schoolwork and can continue on with many of their subjects. Most of the suggestions in this article will apply to younger children, but don’t leave the older ones out of the fun.

Whether you put the books on the shelf during December for the month or for a week, you don’t have to feel guilty because it doesn’t mean learning has been put on the shelf.  Here are some things your children can be learning even if they aren’t following your normal school routine. It’s not the purpose of this list to give you more to do during the holidays. It’s to help you realize that learning can be going on during many of your typical holiday activities.

Reading: There are so many good holiday books to read. In your busyness this month, don’t skip read-aloud time with your kids. It builds such great memories, as well as increases your children’s vocabulary and comprehension (and passion for the written word). A fun way to approach Christmas read-alouds is to wrap the books up like presents and put them in a basket. Open one a day and read it together. Don’t forget to read the beautiful story of the birth of Christ.

Writing: Opportunities for writing abound. Starting with Thanksgiving, have everyone write something they are thankful for. Have everyone write a paragraph for the family Christmas letter. Write lists: gift lists, project lists, and daily to-do lists. Practice penmanship by taking a family evening to address Christmas cards. Write notes of appreciation to family members and friends. Don’t forget thank you notes for the gifts received. And for the New Year, write memories of the past year and hopes for the coming year.

Math: You’ll probably be doing lots of baking. Involve your children. They are learning measurements, multiplication (doubling a recipe), and sequencing (doing things in the correct order). Advent activities help with calendar skills and counting. Gift giving involves budgeting and planning. You can even do some geometry and shape recognition while building a gingerbread house. Even spending time putting together a puzzle with the family is a good exercise in spatial relationships and shapes.

Science: When you are baking you are doing chemistry. What causes cakes and cookies to rise? (Hint: carbon dioxide.) How is the carbon dioxide made? Play around with vinegar and soda to see the bubbles. Try cream of tartar and baking soda. Why does that make bubbles? How is yeast bread different? You can study forestry concepts as you get your Christmas tree. Study weather as you wonder if you will have a white Christmas. And don’t forget the amazing individuality of snowflakes. Find some pictures of magnified snowflakes on the internet and marvel at God’s creation. Clear, cold winter nights are perfect for a study in astronomy as you marvel at God’s handiwork in the heavens.

Social sciences: The holidays provide an excellent opportunity for our families to serve others in our communities. Rake leaves or shovel snow for your neighbors. Put together bags of necessities to give to the homeless. Serve at a soup kitchen. Don’t forget public servants who work on holidays to keep you safe. Become aware of different holiday traditions of different peoples, religions, and locations throughout our country. Try out some new traditions for fun. Study how people around the world celebrate Christmas. What other holidays are celebrated this time of year? Sing Christmas carols from other cultures.

Your family is already doing things for the holidays that are out of the ordinary. Remember that not all learning comes from a textbook. Your children will be learning if you involve them in your planning, organizing, and celebrating during the holidays. After all, that’s one of the strengths of homeschooling – it’s a lifestyle of learning.

What are some non-textbook things your children are learning this holiday season?

Posted by Dorothy Karman on Nov 30, 2016 at 6:18 PM | Categories: Homeschooling -

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