It’s that time of year again! Yes, the holiday season is upon us and for homeschoolers, this can seem like a great time to either take a break, go full force, or relax. In this article, we will discuss, How to Take a Homeschool Break for the Holidays.
What Is a Holiday?
Well, that depends on what your family considers a major holiday. Let’s look at the standard calendar holidays, that many families celebrate and some schools in the United States observe:
- Rosh Hashanah Break (Jewish holiday)
- Labor Day
- Easter break (Which can also be during Spring Break)
- Veterans Day
- Christmas (Winter break)
- Thanksgiving Day
- New Years
The two major holidays (or holy*day) that most everyone observes whether they celebrate them or not, are Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Big Question
Many homeschool families will be entering their second half of schooling, also known as the second semester, when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolls around. The big question being asked, “Are homeschool parents allowing their children to be off for thanksgiving & Christmas like traditional schools?”
This question makes a ton of sense, since these are the two major holidays observed. Many homeschool parents, like traditional compulsory school, do take this time to be off with their families, however, it doesn’t look the same for every family.
How To Take a Homeschool Break for the Major Holidays
Let’s explore the many ways parents can take a homeschool break for the major holidays. Remember, there’s no one size fits all, when it comes to homeschooling.
First, the holidays are a time where many homeschooling families can begin to feel that burnout. If you are anything like our homeschool family, we start school at the beginning of September and go full force until Thanksgiving. We bypass Veterans Day and Labor Day, with half days of school. Still observing the holidays, but we never stop school. So, after many days and months of homeschooling, our family is craving a break!
There are so many things to do during the holidays, like decorating, shopping, family get-togethers, crafting, and those cozy evenings, where the rain or snow is falling fast forward, and the family cozies up on the couch for a movie with hot cocoa.
You can come up from homeschool burnout AND get your GROOVE back!Keep reading
First, define your family priorities and holiday traditions.
What are your plans for this holiday season, will you go all out, or keep it in your immediate family?
Determine what your family will be doing during the holiday season, are you hosting, traveling, or taking a much-needed vacation? This will help you determine how to take your homeschool break.
Can your students still function without a schedule, what type of structure is needed?
If you have special needs students, a student with a high tolerance for structure, or a determined high schooler, you might want to think about how to appease them during your homeschool break. It might be impossible for your homeschool to dive into a full break, as it will disturb the flora of your home.
What are the demands of your family during this season?
Do you have any demands on your family, like taking care of an elderly parent, opening your home to family from out of town, or dealing with a family struggle? You will have to take into consideration this when planning your homeschool break.
Second, Solutions and Ideas to your priorities and holiday traditions
The relaxed Homeschool Family Way
This is what my family does during our holiday break. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that our kids are always learning, and life skills are gained through living life. So, if there is a sickness in the family, a pregnancy, or whatever else, just remember that even if you don’t have an official school day, your kids are always learning.
If you have a relaxed homeschool, where you don’t necessarily follow a schedule to the tee, then you are pretty much free to keep your homeschool breaks the same way.
During this time, you can incorporate more life skills into your homeschool. This means
- Getting the kids into the kitchen and baking with them.
- Planning the family holiday meals together.
- Decorating the house with your kids and make Christmas ornaments.
- Watching documentaries or movies on the meaning of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays.
- Reading holiday themed books together and having your kids verbalize their understanding by answering questions about the story. High school students can write a small five paragraph book report.
In the end, your homeschool is still relaxed, you are still taking a homeschool break for the holidays, and your kids are still learning in small ways.
When going back into homeschooling is a real task!Keep reading
Homeschooling while pregnant doesn’t have to be an unattainable task!Keep reading
The Need for Structure Family and The High Demand Family Way
If your homeschool cannot survive without a structed day or is on high demand, you might not want to just stop doing school altogether when the holidays roll around. With the relaxed homeschool way above, you can throw in life skills and that is still a wee bit of school undercover, life is learning right? But your family can’t work this way, your child needs a plan, or they will get into it with siblings, you, or become a hot mess. You need a plan because you take care of grandma, or you are hosting for the holidays, but your homeschoolers still need just a little something.
So don’t take school away completely and still have time for those fun family traditions you do around the holidays.
A Determined High Schooler
If you have a high schooler who is following your course proposal for the year, or their syllabus, let them. It’s ALWAYS good give your mind a mental break from “schooling” during the holidays, but if they are determined to conquer something, let them go at their own pace or help them adjust the syllabus/course proposal, so they are not overworked during the times for celebration.
You can help your student learn how to consolidate lessons either before or after Thanksgiving or Christmas, so no additional time is needed. They can add a few more weeks on to the school year to finish so they can take a family vacation, or drop repetitive assignments and lessons, that will not affect them academically. Then you can give them high school credits based on their educational experiences even outside the homeschool arena.
Opt For Part-Time School or Half DAY
Instead, opt for a “part-time school or half day”. You can school every other day, while including family stuff on the days when you are not schooling. You can also set a time limit to how long school will take during the holidays, maybe just 1.5hrs to 2. This must be intentional and scheduled. This must also involve your homeschoolers. They need an itinerary of what’s going to happen when they are not in school. On school days, focus on the core subjects just picking 2 a day, and take it to however long you want to have your homeschool break.
For example, try to group similar subjects together.
|Monday||Language Arts (ENGLISH) and Reading (or Writing)|
|Tuesday||Family TIME! Tree trimming, bake cookies|
|Wednesday||Math and Read Aloud (High school students can listen to an audiobook)|
|Thursday||Family outing, Christmas shopping, visit family, etc.|
|Friday||History, Social Studies, or Science Curriculum|
This is just an idea. But you can mix and match this up, by choosing to part-time homeschool Mon-Tues or Mon-Wed, whatever works. BE FLEXIBLE. You can also do one subject a day, if your homeschooler and you just need structure, this will work.
Try a Unit Study
You can also opt not to do any of the regular schoolwork your homeschool would usually do. Instead, try a fun themed unit study. This you can also schedule like above, doing some here and there, but fully covering the unit. You want to have a unit themed for the holiday in which you are celebrating, or you can choose to just do a unit study that covers the core subjects, maybe its geography, animals, birds, history, Bible, whatever you like. It should be lighter than your regular school days and should cover more than one of your students.
Is a unit study fit for your homeschool? If you are tired of textbooks, workbooks, and parent guides, a unit study might be for you!Keep reading
Transitioning From the Homeschool Break and The Holidays
If you have ever done a complete school break, where you took off two weeks to a month, you know how hard it is to transition back into routine. For this very reason, many parents try to incorporate a little something here and there, so they are not COMPLETELY out of school.
Think of summer break if you take one. If your homeschool did nothing for the entire summer, then when school starts back, it going to be hard! Our homeschool used to do this but found out pretty quickly that we need a bit MORE structure to accomplish our homeschool and long-term goals.
But You can still get back a little at a time.
In fact, that’s what I advise. No matter which routes you take for your homeschool holiday break, ease back into your routines, adding a little bit more each day or each week until your homeschool is right back where you want to be, or not.
Sometimes, during a break, you are given time to reflect. What worked and didn’t work and to prevent a homeschool burnout, you decide to take a different route, that’s okay too.
Maybe you need to finish the year out with a great unit study, or a different emergency (free) curriculum. Whatever you decide, you can have a homeschool break for the major holidays and enjoy your homeschool too!
Third, Check Out Ideas from Other Parents
“We take December off from our regular curriculum to do Christmas school. Lots of art, lessons about the history of Christmas, baking, crafting, and fun field trips.” Lisa
“We take Thanksgiving to New Year’s off from regular school. In December we do a Christmas unit study. We kind of do our schedule way different then public school because it’s so hot in the summer the kids don’t like to play outside so we do school all summer.” Nick
“Not really. I’m off work for 4 days for Thanksgiving so we plan to do a lot during those days but only do math and reading Monday-Wednesday that week. We go year-round though so we take breaks whenever we want.” Sarah
“We do a month in the summer and a month in December to have a nice long break. It helps us to slow down and connect and enjoy the holidays.” Stacey
“We do other things like cooking, reading lots of books, games, family time. We do one week at Christmas time because my husband has that time off. We do field trips etc. too during that time.” Jessica
“We have hardly taken any time off this year, and we all need a break.” D.Amanda
“I have to keep my kids busy doing things or they will drive each other crazy during the day…. they will have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve off…. Other than that, they’ll be doing schoolwork. I’ve always thought that two weeks off for Christmas break was too much anyway unless of course we had a trip planned. They usually get done with school by March and then they have their summer months during the Spring since the weather is better.” Ashley
We hope this article helped you (or encouraged you to) plan your perfect homeschool break for the holidays!
-California Homeschool Academy PSP COORDINATOR, HOMESCHOOL 101 DIRECTOR, AND COUNSELOR
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