With the best will in the world to keep Christmas break set apart for holiday celebrations, I find that we are almost ALWAYS playing catch-up over our homeschool winter break. Especially since entering the realm of homeschooling high school, lol.
In our family, there is a constant effort to stay on track with our homeschool schedule. Now that we are in Classical Conversations, that has been a bit easier. Or harder, depending on how you look at it. The accountability is great but it does lead to some stress, I gotta admit.
But there are too many variables in our family’s life to enable us to stay completely caught up. My husband travels a lot, so when he’s home we like to spend time with him. The three older girls are in college, necessitating trips to visit them. #4, the junior this year, now has a job to work around (ha! see what I did there? :-) ). Then there are the sick days, the emotional days, and the “just can’t seem to get going” days. (Are we the only ones that have the latter?)
So again this year we are entering winter break with a few subjects that we are behind in. Math is almost always a given, lol.
I hate the fact that we can never have a TRUE, don’t-have-anything-to-do-but-have-fun, holiday. But I hate starting the spring semester behind in our work even more. And this year we just can’t do that, or my kids will not be able to participate in class discussions on community day.
But since we’ve had to do this for so many years, we’ve learned a few things about making it work so that we don’t feel like we can’t ever get away from doing school.
Here’s what we do to make catching up over homeschool winter break more pleasant:
1) Work hard early on in the break. This year, the college girls don’t get home until a few days after our own break has started. So we’ll just keep working at our usual pace for those days. Since we’re not behind in EVERY subject, that means we can maybe squeeze in multiple lessons per day for the ones we need to catch up in.
2) Schedule several completely school-free days. Obviously Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve/Day would be some of those. But I can look ahead at the calendar and pick a few more, especially if they coincide with special activities we want to do or Christmas shopping days.
3) We prefer to plan out the break so that there is a little bit of school to do on most of the days that are left after doing 1) and 2). There truly is only so much math you can do in one day, lol. But another option is to plan just a few scattered days that will be completely school days, and work hard on those, so that there are more days that can be completely free. But I have to confess that we are a pretty
unpredictable spontaneous family, so a more relaxed schedule works better for us. :-)
4) We don’t adhere to a time schedule within each day over homeschool winter break. We just know what school needs to get done and work it in on the given day. That helps the time seem more like a holiday, because we can sleep in as needed or desired, watch movies in the middle of the day, or just hang out and talk.
5) Work hard again the last few days of break. This is where we start to panic, lol. (No, not really.) (Well, in reality, TBBH [Just made up a new achronym. It means “to be brutally honest.” LOL], yes, we do. :-) ) But it helps to make the bulk of winter break seem relaxed when we plan the last few days to get back up to speed. You may argue then that our break is actually shorter, because we work hard at the beginning and the end, and technically you’d be right. But we’re still calling it “break,” okay? It’s a psycho/emotional coping mechanism that helps
So for us, today is the first day of this year’s winter break. We did all sleep in a little bit. But I’m going to have a planning meeting with each of the kids to see exactly what catching up we need to accomplish and set up a strategy for getting it done. During our down-time we’ll hang ornaments on the tree. :-)
There are things to like and dislike about the homeschool lifestyle. Playing catch-up over winter break is one of the necessities that we may not like so much but have to bow to just the same. Hopefully these strategies will help it go easier for everyone, so that the holiday still feels like a holiday — in all the meanings of the word.
Are you playing catch-up over homeschool winter break this year??