Homeschooling After the Holidays
Homeschooling After the Holidays
Every homeschooling parent knows about homeschooling after the holidays. You may have had an extended break with lots of exciting things taking place in a short period of time. Many families travel, some of them, great distances. It can definitely be an adjustment to get back to any kind of a normal routine.
Now that the slower pace and the fun that surrounds holiday decorations and meals and traveling are through, it’s not completely uncommon to feel a bit sluggish. The good news is, we have some tips that will make the entire process, if not perfect, then just a little bit easier.
A Novel Idea
Some families homeschool right through the holidays. In fact, I’ve done this several times myself. But only because we pretty much did everything, including hosting large family meals, from our own home. The very activities of the holidays gave ample opportunity for many lessons. From utilizing recipes and timing charts for math class, to filling out Christmas cards for language arts, and we can’t leave out the socialization that happens as friends and family come and go.
Not every family can do this, of course, but even a single lesson thrown in every day can help get through the holidays without the stagnation that often happens after long breaks. For some children, those breaks seem to rejuvenate them and give them an extra helping of excitement when it’s time to get back to work. But other children have a really hard time getting back into the swing of things. Little daily tasks that keep the homeschooling experience fresh in their minds can be a massive help in not breaking down over the long holiday season.
A Fresh Plan Works Wonders
Some homeschooling families take extended breaks for the holiday season for various reasons, not the least of which is traveling. If you happen to be a “host family” for other family members who travel long distances to get to you, that extension can be just as necessary. And that’s why freshening up your plan can be the best decision at this time of year.
On your first “official day” back, make sure it’s an easy one and not chock-full of everything all at once. You might try getting the children interested by learning about a brand-new topic, which helps them come to the proverbial table with interest and excitement. The same can happen with activities that require hands-on interaction. Science experiments, acting out a play, or creating a nice recipe can all be great ways of keeping interest levels high.
You can also take this time to discuss with your children the upcoming semester and ask for their input on things they’d like to learn about. Getting them involved in the educational planning process, if they are old enough, can be exciting and beneficial, both for you and your child.
It’s also a great time to practice flexibility. This season can be just as stressful on our youngsters as it is on us, even though in different ways. There will be struggle to get back into the routine sometimes, but it’s not worth stressing too much. Try just to have fun with it and adjust your schedule as needed.
A fresh plan also works when you put it to use for planning meals as well. After all the holiday cooking, the last thing you want to do is get up every morning and wonder what you’re going to make for the day. For the first couple of weeks after this break, plan simple meals that will be easy to make, cooked in a slow cooker, or combined with a life skills or home economics class, so you’ll have assistance. This not only helps your child to feel needed and practice skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives, but it’s also an awesome time to bond, have deep conversations, and truly get to know one another better than ever before.
As I’ve already mentioned, diving headlong back into full-on homeschooling can be more stressful than it’s worth. That’s why baby steps can get you back where you need to be easier and with less chaos than any other way.
For younger children, this could be as simple as just working on handwriting and math. Since these skills are necessary foundation blocks on which many of the other subjects hinge, it’s important to include them. If you want to add a bit more right off the bat, go with something that your child enjoys. That makes it so much easier on everyone involved. For older children, you could offer the opportunity to do more individual study, reading, or maybe even life skills classes. No matter which age group you’re working with, or if you’re homeschooling multiple age groups, the bottom line is to simply go back into something they are likely to enjoy. And if they don’t enjoy it, then at least let it be something they don’t have to dig too hard to finish.
You might also consider going on a field trip as a first activity after coming back from break. Of course, common outdoor field trip destinations might be off limits due to inclement weather, but libraries, museums, and even some zoos all have some exciting things that go on throughout the winter for just such an occasion.
A great activity right after the holidays is allowing your children to write thank you letters and cards for everything and everyone they might have been thankful for over the holidays. Not only does this help cultivate a grateful heart, but it covers several aspects of the language arts category. They’ll be writing these out by hand, expressing thoughts and emotions on paper, addressing an envelope, and counting up how much money it will take to purchase the stamps necessary for mailing their cards and letters.
This activity can actually be repeated a couple time throughout the year, especially after birthdays or other special holidays or personal accomplishments in which they receive something from a friend or relative. Taking the time to stop the busyness of the day to put emphasis on expressing thankfulness will be an activity and a habit that will follow your children throughout their lifetime.
I’m not just talking about having grace for your children. Yes, of course, they need it too, but you should also have grace for yourself. It’s never “easy” getting back into the swing of things and there will be days that seem like an overload. At times like that, a book-reading marathon and verbal discussion afterwards can aptly be called a school day.
Don’t be afraid to do things you might not always do. Have a movie and popcorn night. Order pizza and practice socializing with one another. Leave the dried laundry until tomorrow; you can always hit the “fluff” cycle and fold or hand it then. And that’s okay! Your homeschool days will be back to “old-hat” status in no time, but until then, there’s no reason to throw in everything you’ve got all at once.
There’s no “right or wrong way” to come back from holiday vacation, if you even take one at all. Just like with most every other facet of homeschooling, you do what works best for your family. For some, that means homeschooling right through the holidays with a decreased schedule. For others, it means taking off an extended period of time and then slowing back into the homeschooling routine.
No matter which road you take, know that it will notbe the wrong one. If it works, it’s right. And that’s what really matters. Work on instilling the love of learning most of all. You’re most likely to see everything else fall into place after that. And from there, you can enjoy the process as well as the result.