By Malia Russell, Crosswalk.com
For homeschooling, there is no need to take off days for holidays. Instead of seeing these days as time off from classes, reconfigure your thinking so that you can teach your children the joy of learning in a whole new way. By thinking about the education of your children holistically, you will find you rarely take full days off during holidays. Here are some ways to make enjoying the holidays a wonderful educational experience:
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Make fun and interesting food related to the holiday, while letting your child help prepare and serve the foods. Cooking and baking can reinforce math skills, as well as offer opportunities to learn new life skills.
You can serve others by taking baked goods to friends and neighbors or serving at a soup kitchen for various holidays.
For history, you can look up the meanings of the holidays and see how and when the holiday originated. You can add this to your history timeline or notebook.
You can let the children’s copy or handwriting work relate to the holiday and use the final product as a gift for a loved one. Grandparents enjoy receiving verses or quotes beautifully written and decorated.
For music, study songs related to the holiday. If you have musicians, let them spend the few weeks leading up to a holiday preparing a song for the family. This adds another element of joy into their practice.
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You can look up what happened in history on each birthday and add it to a history timeline. Making decorations from scratch can be art lessons.
We read books regarding Thanksgiving and do art projects. You can serve the homeless or less fortunate through providing meals and care packages. Make a gratitude journal and use it for your writing prompts.
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Find a terrific daily Christmas devotional and use that with your family as part of your Bible lessons.
Gift giving can encompass a variety of skills, such as time management, budgeting, counting money and change, shopping, map reading (using a map to get to the mall, letting your child use the map as a guide) art, gift wrapping, online shopping, list-making, and calendar lessons.
All these are valuable skills, and you can make them an official part of their learning. You can also gather all the Christmas movies, books, and music, and incorporate them into the days leading up to the holiday.
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Find recordings of famous presidential speeches and play them for the children. Let them work on memorizing lists of presidents (there are songs to make this easier).
Art, baking, handwriting, scissor skills, and service projects are all good for this holiday. Making extra valentines and delivering them to a nursing home or hospital can be a great service project.
Learn about boats, knot tying, maps, or study the stars for navigation—the ways sailors would. Study geography and tie it into the history of both the explorers and the natives living here before the time of Columbus.
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Learn patriotic songs, provide care packages to local veteran’s hospitals, visit a graveyard, and discuss famous wars—teach why and when were they fought. Discuss famous patriots throughout the years. Go to public celebrations, parades, and cultural events. Incorporate science by researching fireworks, how they work and how they are made. You can also make this a business lesson, talking about manufacturing and sales.
Homeschoolers can have celebrations for school days, as well. Your first day can include photos, child interviews, and a new outfit. Also, 100-day celebrations can include themes around the number 100—art, math, and treats. We do individual treats for children as they finish a school subject for the year. Usually, we take a picture of them holding the book, and we take them out for a special one-on-one treat.
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Monthly National Days
Be sure to check out special days coming up each month and see what kinds of fun and enriching things you can tie into lessons you are already doing. Even lesser-known holidays (National Ice Cream Day, Trivia Day, or Tea Month) are a great source for creative ideas for your homeschool. Be bold and celebrate something you have never celebrated before.
You can also research the holidays and traditions of other countries. Use these to understand other people better, and where it is appropriate, you can celebrate it with them. For religious holidays that your family celebrates, be sure to do so with the sacredness that is appropriate for the occasion. Bunnies and elves might be fun, but glossing over the real meanings of the holiday can cause confusion for children who wonder why a fictional character is more prominently displayed than the real ones.
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If you are in a stressful time or a very busy season, it is perfectly acceptable, and indeed preferable, to take a holiday and simply rest. Let everyone stay in comfortable clothes, watch some fun holiday movies, and breathe. Take a bath. Rub lotion on everyone’s feet. Ask a grandparent or other family member to let your child celebrate the holiday with them. As a well-seasoned homeschool mom, it is clear to me that taking time to rest is as important as being prepared for making your life holistically educational. And that teaches something too: balance, self-control, and trust in God. He can and will provide all that is needed educationally, and otherwise, when you take time to rest.
Malia Russellis an author, home educator of six children ages 5-27, a grandmother to two children, an author, conference speaker, and the director of www.homemaking911.com. Her primary ministry is encouraging and empowering mothers and home educators to seek God’s Word when facing challenges and encouraging women in their Biblical roles as wives and mothers.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORYof The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
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