Monday, January 10

Homeschooling After the Holidays

The after-Christmas let down is hard...for kids and adults alike...

The holidays are over. No more parties, the decorations are coming down, and the anticipation is gone. Everyone wants the fun and festivities back. It’s still out there at an ungodly hour of day, and the weather generally isn’t cooperating as well. And we’re just now entering our snow season when everything is dreary and chilly.

You're not alone.  In every classroom across America, and many places around the world, people just like you are struggling to get back into the groove after the holidays.  Half the battle, however, is how the holidays themselves are handled.  Maybe this year wasn't such a win, or maybe the transition could be smoother. 

Here are a few of the things we do during the holiday season and just afterward to help transition everyone back to “normal” life.

  • Get Back to Routine
    • We go do special things during the Christmas season, but we try to keep life normal. Our bedtime routine is the same even during holiday break. We might break the routine a little to go out later than normal, but we don’t let the kids stay up super late or push them to go do “all the things.”  We also continue with reading aloud and Christmas-schooling through the break because it helps the kids stay focused and on a routine.
  • Go Gradually
    • We use advent calendars to help the kids celebrate the season.  We also limit special holiday events and space them out throughout the month so that it’s not a whirlwind of activities all in one week. We decorate right after Thanksgiving, and then spend the week between Christmas and New Year undecorating.  This slowly builds and then exits the season.
  • Know your Children
    • When shopping for gifts, know your children and get them something they'll really use.  They might desperately want the "insert trendy toy of the year here," but if you know it will be discarded two days later, skip it.  Some of our kids are hard to buy for. Which is why I wait until almost the very last minute to get them a gift, to make sure that they don’t change their mind and their Christmas list.
  • Spread the Love
    • With extended family living far and wide, presents are known to arrive any time in an eight week window...or not at all.  We set a limit on what we'll spend, and sometimes a few family members will go in together on a larger gift or experience.  We open a gift on Christmas Eve, and some on Christmas Day, but it's not unusual for the kids to open them as they come in.  It spreads out the fun so that they aren't overwhelmed and appreciate each thing a little more.  And sometimes, my siblings and I will purposefully send gifts outside the 'window' for this reason.  By doing it this way, the kids practice thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude – all things we struggle with due to intensities.
  • Make Field Trip Season in January
    • We go to indoor playgrounds, head out on field trips, and go outside if the weather isn’t a total wet muddy mess.  For the kids, getting to go do something they love after the holiday helps them feel like life hasn’t turned dull after the holiday craziness. And public school is back in session, so those fun places should be less crowded and more fun.
  • Ease Into It
    • We don’t jump right back into school routines on the same day – we might go out and do a field trip, or we might have a lazy school day with videos and reading aloud.  We usually start back on a Wednesday, with some simple school days that week, and then jump back in on the following Monday.
  • Do the Unexpected
    • The holidays don't have to be the only fun times of the year.  Host a tea party, book club, scavenger hunt, or some other fun gathering with a small group of friends.  Go out to lunch one day.  Go to the movie theater and see something that could count as school (we totally did this with Peabody & Sherman one year!).  And if all else fails, have them choose an interest and dive down the bunny trail for a week or two....just to break up the winter doldrums.

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