Just take off between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they say. Just do a special unit study, they say. You know what? I’m not cut from that cloth.

Yes, I know these are busy weeks; that “to do” lists are long; that there are lots of extra activities. Yes, I know there are good, wholesome, and worthwhile activities: caroling, service projects, Christmas programs, family travel and celebrations. Yes, I know that my family would likely enjoy and profit from a study of God’s names or the Jesse tree.

But those kinds of studies bring stress of a whole different sort to me (planning, getting materials, etc.). Also, it just doesn’t seem right to completely disregard the nineteen (almost four whole weeks!) school days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately (or so my kids think), I am that mom!

So, what is the traditional, classical or eclectic mom to do in order to sail through the holiday season unscathed?

  1. Scale back. Instead of filling every single box in your planner, try cutting back to the three R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Choose some basic assignments in each subject and just focus on keeping those going. Even better, if some of those are things your child(ren) can do on their own. You could go so far down this path as to just do math and read good books. Have school every day, just don’t do as much school. When you come back in the new year, you can add back in your science, social studies, and electives. You’ll be ready to settle into those “new” subjects with enthusiasm.
  2. Plan to take one or two days off each week. Give yourselves a “catch-up” day or days to take advantage of all the special opportunities that show up, not to mention accomplishing all the extra “to dos” that are on your list. You could either do double work on the other days or (yes, I’m really going to suggest this) just cut down on the work altogether.
  3. Be willing to incorporate some seasonal activities into the daily schoolwork every once in awhile. Bake cookies (i.e. work on fractions and multiples). Use carols, scripture passages, or holiday stories as copywork and penmanship practice. “Adopt” a carol or Christmas custom each week and do a wee bit of research on it. Choose Christmas stories for family read alouds.
  4. Remember to focus on relationships. I should have put this one first. Whether it’s schoolwork or holiday preparations, it’s always so easy to get sidetracked from the relationships. Not only are our family relationships the heart of the Christmas season, they are also the reason we are homeschooling in the first place. We must not sacrifice them for the sake of schedules, activities, or to-do lists.

Choosing one or more of these options avoids the January what-have-I-done-now-we-have-to-really-get-serious syndrome. By lightening up on your expectations (don’t compare!), you can enter the new year letting go of the guilt and knowing that you’ve been realistic. Enjoy!