Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
As beautiful as the Christmas season is, it can also be an extremely stressful time of year.
There are often many more commitments than normal – plays, parties, service opportunities – and then there is the pressure to find special gifts for the people in our lives. Trying to maintain a normal school schedule becomes much more difficult.
How do you enjoy the season, individually or as a family, without all the stress?
1. Take a break.
It was either last year or the year before when my family began taking the entire month of December off. I remember having people think that we were crazy or just lazy, but I pointed out that a long break after Thanksgiving is not unusual in college schedules, so why should it be unusual for our homeschool?
We school six weeks on/one week off July through May, with about a break of about six weeks in June and December. It works well for us.
2. Just the basics.
Many homeschooling families cut back to just the core subjects during December. That allows time to focus on family and the blessings of the season. It also allows time for things like those service opportunities and Christmas plays, which are learning experiences in and of themselves.
My one caveat to this suggestion would be to make sure that your core still includes things you and your kids enjoy.
If math isn’t their favorite subject and you don’t want them to lose ground, it’s understandable that you’d still want them to be doing lessons several times a week. However, if they love your read-aloud time or art, don’t cut those out as unimportant.
3. Seasonal studies.
The Christmas season can be a great time to put aside regular studies in favor of seasonal studies, such as a unit study on Christmas traditions around the world or on the history and origins of our Christmas traditions.
Seasonal crafting and art can provide learning opportunities and can make great gifts for relatives.
Photo by Laura Bittner
4. Adopt a more relaxed schooling style.
December can be a great month to take notes from the more relaxed homeschoolers among us. Writing a Christmas letter or thank-you notes to relatives is great writing practice.
List-making is good practice for younger kids (handwriting, spelling) – and the list doesn’t have to be the self-indulgent (though I may be guilty, too) Christmas wish list. It can be a list of blessings or a list of ways to serve others.
Baking together provides opportunities to add fractions (because, if you’re like me, you need to double or triple recipes this time of year) and follow directions. An older child can get some math and budgeting practice by being given an allowance to shop for parents or siblings.
5. Focus on the blessings of the season.
Often we get so wrapped up in our to-do list that we lose sight of the blessing of the Christmas season. Don’t forget to carve out time for your family to sing Christmas carols, drive around and look at Christmas lights, watch your favorite Christmas shows, or look for opportunities to serve others.
One year, our church made a commitment to serve others throughout the month of December. We thought that we’d be blessing others, but it turned out that we were the ones who received the blessing.
It was so special to see someone’s face light up when they were on the receiving end of an unexpected blessing – or to imagine the look on someone’s face when we did the more sneaky acts of kindness.
Whatever tactics you employ for a less stressful December, I think you’ll find they’re worth it. Making memories with your family is one of the best gifts of the season.
Have you found effective ways to enjoy a stress-free December?