Homeschooling after the Holidays

It’s January: cold, gray, and if we’re honest, a little depressing. After the fun and relaxation of the Christmas and New Year holidays, January tends to be one of those months that is just hard to face. As we box up the decorations one more time, the holiday blues set upon us, and we get that sinking feeling that there’s nothing to look forward to. 

Then, the inevitable truth every homeschool parent must confront: it’s back to lesson time! If you think returning to homeschool after your winter break gives you the feeling of “ugh,” just think what your children are feeling. In their minds, it’s back to the grind, no more free time, and (gulp) time to take tests again. 

For students, it’s always a bit bumpy returning to school after a break. Usually the longer your break, the longer it takes to get back into the rhythm. Trust me. As a former homeschool student, I didn’t look forward to it anymore than Mom and Dad did. But through the years, I noticed some tips that helped both of us ease the transition from holiday cheer back to homework assignments. 

Here are a few handy tips to help you dash away those downer feelings as you “get back in the groove” of homeschooling.

Tip 1: Radiate a positive attitude. Who wants to go back to school if Mom and Dad are less than thrilled about it too? If parents are grumpy, students are grumpy. You are like a mirror. Remember that your attitude reflects the energy of mood around you. A smile and hug in the morning can make all the difference for starting the day off well. 

Tip 2: Start back into lessons with half days. Nobody likes going cold turkey. Ease back into school with a few half days of lessons. This will feel less dramatic to students (and you), and you’ll find students more receptive to learning if they know they will have time to adjust. Stacking up the homework the first week back is probably the last thing you should do early in the semester.

Tip 3 Breathe, and give yourselves a break. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your students. If you didn’t catch up on grading over break like you’d hoped to, don’t punish yourself by making grueling goals or expecting perfection. Your student might not remember that multiplication rule, just like you might forget where you placed that spelling test. Show patience to each other.

Tip 4: Make easier meals and clear your calendar. Your first week back to school is bound to be busy. Make things as simple as possible with the rest of your schedule. Plan for quicker, faster meals like crock pot recipes or plan ahead with leftovers. Get both parents involved with chores, mealtime, and homework help to divide and conquer tasks! Try not to plan any extra outside activities if possible. 

Tip 5: Keep a steady routine, during break or not. Students crave structure and generally don’t like change. Try to keep their lives on course by repeating the same daily habits, both during break times and during school time. Keep chores and personal hygiene schedules the same. This consistency will help children realize that holiday break isn’t a break from schedules; it’s just a break from schoolwork. 

Tip 6: Make time for God. This perhaps is the most obvious one. If the Holy One created the entire universe, He surely has time to help you out with your homeschooling schedule. After all, He is the master planner! Don’t get too busy and push God out of your homeschool day, especially when you need His guidance the most. Pray, do devotions, and worship so you may be blessed by your relationship with Him, and in turn bless your homeschooling day.

As you can see, even if it’s gloomy outside when you re-start your homeschooling this January, it doesn’t mean your homeschooling mindset has to be! Take time to consider the joy and freedom you have to teach your child in a home-based setting. Although it’s tempting to look at returning to lessons after holiday break as challenging, let us as parents take the viewpoint of it as a return to learning—both as a homeschool teacher and sharing with our children. What a privilege God has given us!

Have your own back to school tips (after the holidays) that have worked well for your homeschool family? Post them below and share them with others!

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Comments(3 comments)

SHELLEY M 01/06/2011 14:46:30

We do the half days. It helps a lot. It's also good to start reading a new book or do a fun project to make the first week more fun.

SHEILAH S 01/09/2011 17:37:50

Look ahead to warmer temperatures! Get everyone into the planning of what to do when the weather warms up. Maybe a hike or a field trip to a museum would also beat the winter blues. If that isn\'t possible or too far ahead, try camping out in your living room or bedroom. Be creative and imagine you are in another country, complete with the animals, weather, foods, etc. MAKE IT FUN!!

LISA K 01/09/2011 20:55:51

We study snowflakes then make some paper ones for our windows. This year we read about animals at the North Pole. We have pajama days where we just read books. Educational videos from the library are great. Reviewing and correcting the papers from before break is a nice transition back. Maybe have hot cocoa and popcorn. Watch a movie for part of school; remember, the public schools occasionally do, too. Make a fort and do school in it. We have an annual Farm Show in January we attend as a field trip; indoor field trips are a great thing to look forward to. We also start out slow the first week back, or introduce a new topic with lots of hands on projects to make it more fun. I also have the calendar cleared that week so it isn\'t stressful for me, either; the suggestion of easy meals is a great idea.

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