Homeschooling Through the Holidays
Sticking to our traditional 3-day homeschool week through the holiday season used to be a given.
However, that all changed on a random December day.
There I sat, in my living room, feeling completely drained and unmotivated.
It was a Tuesday.
Tuesday, December 3rd to be exact.
Thanksgiving was the week prior and it was a hectic one which left me with no downtime to catch my breath.
Somehow we managed to get through our Monday lessons, but I just couldn’t seem to muster up the energy to make it through our Tuesday lessons.
I was craving simplicity.
I was craving a break.
What If We Took a Homeschool Holiday?
That’s when my light bulb moment happened.
What if I just took the entire month off?
What if I decided to focus on making memories with my kids & enjoying our fun holiday traditions instead of working through homeschool lessons?
I quickly realized I needed to know the answer to my what-ifs — so I jumped in headfirst.
I immediately felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.
However, that cool breeze I just felt quickly transitioned into terror.
A new what-if had weaseled its way into my mind.
What if I can’t get back on track after this?
What if this break messes up the rest of our homeschool year?!
As a homeschool mom who suffers from anxiety and deals with the constant battle of overthinking all the things, this was a tough what-if to overcome.
I had to force myself to relax and be in the moment.
It was totally hard, you guys!
Once I let go of the fear and began soaking up the simple, it all became crystal clear that this was the right decision for all of us!
Why I Needed a No School December
As a working homeschool mom, I simply needed a break, you guys!
I would find myself in this constant battle of rushing through all the things on my to-do list and completely missing out on the little moments that the list was compiled of in the first place!
I wanted to feel the holiday season in its entirety for the first time in… possibly ever.
So, I decided to take the hustle out of the holidays by being in the moment and having the most relaxed December ever.
Our Homeschool Holiday
This extended break from homeschool lessons was such an incredible blessing!
Personally, I was able to catch up on laundry because apparently, it’s just easier to keep on top of that task when you don’t have other things filling up your schedule — go figure!
However, we also did a lot of fun things together as a family as well.
From experiencing the season together to participating in fun extras we haven’t done in years!
What We Did
- Went to the movies (twice)
- Drank copious amounts of hot chocolate
- Slept in
- Snuggled daily
- Participated in advent activities and books
- Read through the entire book of LUKE
- Made holiday crafts
- Played board games
- Baked too many cookies
- Watched Christmas movies (then watched them again)
- Read all the Christmas books we could find
- Attended Christmas parties and events
- Handed out gifts
- Donated to the less fortunate
- Scheduled play date with friends
- Looked at tons of Christmas lights
What We Didn’t Do
- Formal Lessons
- Anything involving too much structure
We didn’t have to worry about trying to fit lessons in with the extra holiday stuff or stress out over figuring out how to do extras while we had lessons to finish.
We simply did the extras and left the stress of homeschool lessons out of it.
The No School December Experience
Our no-school December was a much-needed refresher for our entire family.
Even though we skipped structure, for the most part, I was able to work on a few important things that tend to get pushed to the back burner during the homeschool year.
I’m a huge planner girl, so I spent some much-needed time setting up a new planner and setting personal goals for the upcoming year.
I totally thrive in this setting, you guys!
With that said, I also got to experience the holiday rush with absolutely no rushing for the first time as a mom.
As abnormal as it sounds, it was pretty much the best holiday experience I’ve ever had and it was incredible!
I shopped online, wrapped gifts when I wanted, had impromptu baking days, and worked on special activities whenever I felt like it.
My newfound no-rush philosophy left plenty of time for snuggles, family traditions, and even field trips!
It was not stress-free by any means, but it was definitely what I would consider stressed-less.
The best part? When I look back at our December, I don’t just feel like it zoomed by!
I truly feel like I experienced the holiday season for the first time.
Coming Back After an Extended Break
Okay, I couldn’t write a post about trying out a no-school December for the first time without touching on the aftermath.
To be completely honest, returning to schedule and routine after a whole month off mid-homeschool year completely terrified me!!
But, here we go!
Our first day back actually went smoother than I ever could have imagined.
Not going to lie, I was completely terrified it was going to be stressful and H A R D.
With that said, we started lessons around 10 a.m. on January 2nd, slowly easing back into our routine.
First, I covered language lessons, encouraged lots of reading, and worked on handwriting with my youngest.
Then, I let my older 2 loose to work on whatever they wanted/needed.
Since our original plan to start back on a full routine (after the holidays) wasn’t until January 6th anyway, I didn’t rush things in the beginning.
And let me just say, it was amazing!
Day one back to homeschool 2020 was officially in the bag, you guys!
Then the real challenge came.
You know what though? That part actually wasn’t half bad either!
I got our homeschool stuff fully prepped over the weekend and somehow even managed to completely re-organize our entire office area (yeah, that last part was totally unplanned but incredibly amazing!)
Then, our first FULL day back went on without a hitch!
Our second day? Yeah, we made it through that with flying colors as well!!
I don’t know if it was just the break itself or the fact that I learned to completely let go during our homeschool holiday, but I was finally feeling motivated again!
I wake up with purpose and have been able to get things checked off my list again.
Did No School December Hinder
the Rest of Our School Year?
I really don’t think so.
Even though we are only officially 4 full days into our 2020 school year, I’m feeling confident and motivated again.
Will we do it again next year?
Right now I want to say YES, YES, YES!!
Reality though? Come back and ask me in mid-July when I’m still teaching lessons a couple of times a week, haha!
In all seriousness though, I do think no school December will be making a comeback for us in 2020 (and beyond).
No School December Pros & Cons
While this break was a great fit for us, it may not be right for everyone.
Some homeschoolers benefit more from homeschooling through the holidays while others flourish from taking that extra time off.
If you are considering a no-school December in your homeschool this year, take a quick peek at my list of pros & cons first.
Schedule Was Non-Existent
Pro: Family bonding.
This was actually pretty amazing!
Forgetting about schedule meant we could stay up late watching Christmas movies and sleep in if need be.
It also meant we could have impromptu baking sessions, snuggles on the couch with endless books, and we could do whatever extras we wanted without the fear of getting behind or missing deadlines.
Without structure, teenagers are prone to it and if we aren’t careful we can be too!
We had some of this behavior sneak into our Christmas break (especially near the beginning) and it had to be nipped quickly!
While there’s nothing wrong with a lazy day or even two, a whole month of laziness can really put a damper on things, making it even more difficult to return to schedule in the end!
No Plan for Tasks
Pro: Going with the flow.
Being able to put my focus wherever I wanted to for the day, without a set-in-stone plan, was refreshing, for the most part.
I wasn’t constantly being pulled in 3 or 4 different directions because of a never-ending to-do list.
If I needed to work on laundry and chose to relax in between loads, I totally could!
Skipping lesson due dates also allowed us to focus on fitting in all the fun holiday extras!
Something that would have been a difficult task otherwise.
Con: Less productivity.
I thrive with to-do lists and so do 2 of my kids.
I simply get more done if I write out a plan for myself each day.
If we managed our time a little better over the break, we probably could have managed to squeeze more productive things in — plain and simple.
Taking time off and managing that time well, isn’t always an easy task!
Could our month have been more productive in the housekeeping area? YES.
Could we be further along in our homeschool lessons if we didn’t take this time off? Also, YES!
The Aftermath of a Break
Pro: You can start refreshed.
Luckily for us, getting started back on lessons wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be!
Something about the break left me completely refreshed and ready to tackle a brand new year.
With that said, I also took December off from working which I think also played a huge role in my newfound motivation for getting back on track.
I was actually able to let my guard down and relax over the break, so I was 100% ready for structure come January 6th!
Con: Struggling to get started.
I crave productivity, so I don’t have a personal con for this (at least not yet).
However, I do know that for some, the act of getting back into the swing of things may be overwhelming after taking an entire month off.
So I feel it is worth mentioning as a possibility!
I do believe this can be a tricky side effect of taking extended breaks.
If you already struggle with motivation and typically have a hard time coming back to schedule after other large breaks, like summer vacation, this may be crazy hard for you!
With that said, I may have a secondary con arrive later this summer when we don’t get a huge summer vacation. We shall see!
A Homeschool Holiday
Here’s the deal, this was by far the most memorable December I have ever spent with my kids!
While it wasn’t necessarily the most practical way I could have spent my time this holiday season, it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life.
Taking a homeschool holiday truly is a blessing, you guys!
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