Are you looking for ways to combine holiday prep and homeschool? I know the holidays are coming, and you have so much to do! But you are supposed to be homeschooling your kids as well! How can you ever get it all done! Between shopping, cooking, baking, decorating, college kids home for break, and younger kids still trying to homeschool, it is easy to feel completely overwhelmed!
I have often thought that life would be so much easier if I could plan our school year to take off all the days between the week before Thanksgiving and the week after New Year’s Day. Well, that never happened.
Is that where you are this year? Totally swamped with everything that needs to be done, unsure how you will ever get everything done? I have some ideas and suggestions to help you out.
Keep the Right Focus
It will always help you to keep the right focus throughout the holiday season. What are the main purposes of these holidays? These purposes might not be the same for everyone, or they may not be the same every year. Your focus could be on spending time with family or taking time to focus on God and what He has done for you. Perhaps you choose to focus on how God has provided and protected you throughout the year.
Whatever reason or purpose you choose for this holiday season, keep yourself focused on that. Don’t get sidetracked with all the things that you think need to get done. Keep your main purposes in mind as you plan out all your other activities and to-do lists.
Adjust Your Expectations
I tend towards perfectionism. I make all sorts of lofty plans and goals. My daily to-do lists too often look like a list for an entire month, not a single day. I have visions of my house looking like it belonged in a magazine display. And then reality hits. My ideas will never all happen – I dream way too high! And then, it is so easy to get discouraged, to want to give up and quit. So I have learned to adjust my expectations.
Adjusting your expectations is different from not having any expectations or goals or plans at all. It is more like making your idealism fit within the framework of reality. Instead of insisting on having 20 different cookies on the dessert platter, it is okay if I only have 15. Or even 12. Or maybe, only 5 different kinds. It is better to have fewer cookies than to insist on greater variety and make your family suffer as a result. Having joy and peace is far better than unnecessary stress and pressure!
My house will never be featured in a magazine; it is not the right kind of house. And also, it is a very “lived-in” house. Sure, we clean, we try to decorate nicely, we try to keep it welcoming and comfortable and cozy. But our efforts will never equal magazine perfection. So I adjust my expectations – I choose to be happy with clean, comfortable, and welcoming. Besides, who wants to live in a place that looks like a museum?
Adjusting your expectations will go a long way to helping you and your family enjoy your holiday season. It will also assist in keeping the right focus.
Combine Your Holiday Prep with Your Homeschooling
Instead of insisting that you keep your rigid school schedule going as you try to get everything ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, think about combining the two worlds. Consider all the important skills your children can learn by helping you prepare for the holidays. You may even spark their interest in a new hobby or life skill. Check out these ideas:
Read literature focused on the holidays. Stories, poems, Bible passages – you can find things to read about for every holiday! Find a new book your kids haven’t read or hear before. Read a book, then watch the movie, and then talk about the similarities and differences between them.
Make up some fun math problems relating to the holidays. How many cookies do we need to bake if we plan to put 20 cookies on plates for 15 neighbors? If a serving size for mashed potatoes requires ½ a potato per person, and we are having 25 people for dinner, how many potatoes do we need? And how many pounds of potatoes will that be?
Your children can learn how to double or triple recipes. This could also include switching from teaspoons to tablespoons, tablespoons to cups, etc.
Practice measurement and geometry skills. How many strings of lights will we need to put across the front of the house? How many lights do we need to go on this tree? (surface area)
Calendar skills – Count the days until Christmas. Or, how many days until Grandma comes?
Do you do Bible studies in your homeschool? What better way to focus on the different holidays than to look at the Biblical basis for them?
What is the Biblical basis for Thanksgiving? Why should we be thankful?
Do a Bible study on the Christmas story. Include prophecy, fulfillment, why Christmas matters. Point out that Christmas is not the most important part of Christ’s life on earth. Place the Christmas story in the full context of God’s plan.
You could really have fun with this! Christmas customs and traditions around the world. Christmas food around the world. The history of Christmas trees. Where did our Christmas traditions come from?
Include some of your family’s unique Christmas traditions. My parents always had a Styrofoam star at the top of their Christmas tree. They told us that they had very little money when they were first married—no money for Christmas decorations. But my dad found a piece of Styrofoam and cut a star out of it to use as a tree topper. Every year after that, they still used a Styrofoam star to remind them of their first Christmas and of how much God had blessed them since them. I will never forget their story. What stories does your family have that your kids need to learn?
Who can object to the science of baking? Baking requires exact measurements, proper temperature settings, chemical reactions (yeast, baking powder, baking soda, mixtures of lemon and milk). All of this is part of science. And, even better, you can taste the results of this science!
What about the science of nutrition? Why do we try and serve proteins and carbohydrates? Why do we include vegetables with our meals? What effect does salt have on flavor and our body? How can we properly balance that? Is sugar good for us or not? How much sugar is too much?
There is science to be learned from food preparation and proper food storage. Why should you use different cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables? Does it matter if you use the same utensils for raw meat and cooked meat? What happens if you don’t put food away properly? You could get some great discussions about mold, bacteria, food-borne illnesses. Putting away leftovers involves science – who knew?!
We can study art history, famous artists, well-known works of art, but it is far more enjoyable to create art yourself! And what better time for art projects than the holidays? (As long as no glitter or Easter grass is ever involved!) From paper chains to homemade ornaments, you will not find a shortage of art projects for the holidays. Children can learn about color, themes, proportions, design elements, and appropriateness.
Did you know that you can pay people to decorate your home, both inside and out, for the holidays? Letting your children assist in your home decorations may inspire a future entrepreneur in interior design!
Do you have a child interested in graphic design? Let him or her design your Christmas cards. Can you imagine how a child might feel to see his design in print and sent to all your friends and family?
Photography is an art form; assign one of your children to be the holiday photographer. They can study design, elements of a good photo, lighting, proportion. They can learn about filters, perspective, and even leadership. Try getting multiple small children to get in place for a photo! If you are like me, either I am too busy to get good photos, or I get wrapped up in talking to others and forget to get the pictures. Let one of your children do that for you. No telling what photos you may end up with!
Do you scrapbook? Whether you do it digitally or using physical products, I would say that scrapbooking is an art form. Teach your children; let them help you. They can learn about pleasing layouts, design, use of space, form, and so many other things.
Proper communication skills are often neglected in our teaching. But these skills are so important! What is included in communications during the holiday season? Invitations, thank-you notes, family letters, interviews, social media skills, year-in-review, written records of things for which we are thankful.
Does one of your children show an interest in video or graphic presentations? Let them sort through family photos from the year and create a slideshow or video year-in-review. They will learn computer skills, organization, things about design and presentation. They may need to learn to use different computer programs or apps. All these new things they learn are part of education!
Learning the proper ways to use social media is, like it or not, a necessary skill in today’s world. At an appropriate age, a child can learn best practices for posting on social media. It also allows you to teach what is not appropriate to share with the world. And it even enhances their writing skills.
Etiquette is an old-fashioned word for proper manners and courtesies. Proper etiquette involves everything from setting the table and arranging seating to properly greeting someone or performing introductions. The younger our children learn and practice good etiquette, the more comfortable they will feel in different social settings. Some may look at etiquette and think it is snobbish or upper class. Still, proper etiquette is knowing how to conduct yourself in different situations and make other people comfortable in your presence.
So teach your children how to greet people in a warm and friendly manner. They need to learn to be friendly to everyone, both old and young, friends and strangers. Teach them to introduce themselves to others and how to introduce their friends to others. Let your children practice good, firm handshakes. Not only will these skills help them now, but your children will also benefit from these skills in the future as well.
So how do you combine your holiday prep with your homeschool plans? What works for you? Did I give you any new ideas? Drop your own ideas in the comments. We can each benefit from another’s suggestions!
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