Christmas, Christmas time is here … so it’s that time of year again, and of course my children are bursting with Christmas spirit. More to the point, they’re full to the point of bursting with excitement over their soon-to-arrive presents! I have to admit that I’ve given in to the temptation to hold Christmas over their heads, as in: “Get your schoolwork done” or “Clean your room, or Santa isn’t going to bring presents!” I always feel guilty after using such blatant coercion but I can’t seem to help myself.
In other news, my daughter has reported to me at least a dozen times what day Christmas vacation starts for her friend, the girl next door who attends public school. She was literally counting down the minutes until Christmas vacation started and they have TWO WHOLE WEEKS OFF!!! (Emphasis added by her.)
So how to handle school vacations? When my daughter was younger, and more unaware of the public school’s schedule, I very often worked her right through many a “school vacation week.” My reasoning was twofold: to end our school year even sooner, and to not stop if we were in the middle of learning something new. However, she soon made friends at Girl Scouts and in the neighborhood, and it was hard to sit and do school with kids knocking on our door wanting to play.
Even though we follow most of the public school’s vacation schedule, we still finish at the beginning of May, which is nice, I must admit. In light of this fact, this year I started our Christmas break a full 4 days earlier than our public school counterparts. I’ve gone round and round with why I did this, but the full truth is very simple: we have family coming over for the holidays in a few short days, and typically I can either: homeschool and clean the basics, or take a day off school and REALLY clean.
Just because we’re not sitting down with books I’ve found that we can still learn a great deal even if we’re not “doing school.” My daughter loves learning about the origins of holidays, so I’ve gathered both her and her little brother to learn about the origins of all the holidays at this time of year, and the various ways they’re celebrated around the world. This didn’t take me long at all in my holiday cleaning/cooking schedule; I simply went online and printed out some printable worksheets for them to do. Since my daughter is in 5th grade and can handle more advanced material she gets the meatier stuff, and for my son in 2nd grade he has simple word searches and vocabulary sheets pertaining to the holidays. After they finish their sheets my daughter condenses down the history she read and tells her brother all about it.
This year promises to be a great holiday season. We’ve put away our regular studies, the house is shaping up – as much as a house with 4 kids can shape up – and the kids are happy AND learning.