The month of December can get hectic very quickly, making homeschooling a real challenge some days. Attempting to homeschool on top of all the extra cooking, cleaning, baking, crafting, and celebrating puts a lot of pressure on homeschool families. Many mothers (and kids) are burned out and ready for a break.
After nine years of homeschooling, I have discovered that taking an extended December break helps save my sanity during the Christmas season. The children also look forward to our December break each year, maybe even more so than our summer break!
So each year, when December rolls around, we simply put a pause on our typical Monday-through-Friday activities and our family enjoys a different schedule and rhythm. It’s not a complete stoppage of school work, but rather an adjustment of how we use our time during the “traditional” school day. I still expect my children to continue their personal reading time and practice their instruments each day… to keep good habits alive and active. However, we take a break from our usual schoolwork and exchange that time with other activities. Our homeschool co-op takes the entire month of December off, so that makes scheduling our family break a little easier.
What December Looks Like In Our Home
During our December break, we make lots of homemade Christmas crafts, ornaments, and gifts for family and friends. I usually find a new homemade ornament idea each year for the children to make for their grandparents and to give as gifts. This can become challenging as they age, but it’s worth it. Even my high-schooler enjoys making ornaments, and my plan this year is to let her find her own to try!
A favorite December pastime is to bake cookies and special goodies to enjoy. As my children have grown, I allow them to do much of this work on their own. (It’s a sneaky way to teach and reinforce math skills, too.) My girls, age fifteen and thirteen, have mastered an Amish sugar cookie recipe, even down to the homemade frosting.
As a mom, one of my most favorite parts of our December break is the extra downtime. We pause and catch our breath and just enjoy being a family. It’s a good time to watch Christmas movies, read our favorite Christmas stories at leisure, sleep in a little, and just be together at home. I love being able to relax and not have to rush out the door.
Last, but certainly not least, we serve our community and our church by performing a little extra volunteer work during our free time. This year we will ring the Salvation Army bell at a busy local restaurant during two Monday lunch shifts. We are also collecting gifts for the homeless and will distribute them on the Saturday before Christmas. In years past, we’ve worked at an Operation Christmas Child donation center and helped stock a local food pantry’s shelves. (We literally went in for an entire day and helped place the many Christmas donations on the appropriate shelves.)
Rested And Renewed In January
If you’re worried about taking a break and getting behind … it’s okay! I think it is perfectly normal to feel that way. I did at first! I give you permission to relax and savor this precious season of Christmas. In our family, if we found ourselves behind a little, we easily caught back up in January because we were well-rested and ready to return to our normal school schedule. My children always look forward to returning to their routines after having some time to just “be” kids.
If you are new to homeschooling, or haven’t tried a lighter December schedule before, I would highly recommend it. Of course, it will look different in each family. Tailor your December break to fit your family’s unique needs.