How to Homeschool Through the Holidays

By Holly Giles | homeschooling

how to homeschool through holidays

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Early years

Homeschooling during the holidays can be frustrating and stressful. Planning in advance what your goals are will help you avoid a January depression and thoughts of quitting.

In my early years of homeschooling, I wanted to cram every holiday opportunity into our schedules. My boys needed to have many memories of festive activities. We would go to every party, play date, festival, and event. I have hosted my share of gingerbread house decorating parties, (don’t do it), pilgrim dress-up parties, and make holiday gift parties.

Turkey pinecones homeschool holidays

We have had just a few families over and up to thirty kids from the co-op at our house for these events. Yes, I did lose my mind.  As I look back over the photographs, my boys had some good times with friends. However, it burned me out trying to do all of these things. When January rolled around, I was so exhausted and their routine was non-existent that by month’s end I wanted to quit.

The Talk

Then, the boys and I sat down recently to look at the calendar and schedule a few events. We began talking about those crazy years. The truth is they don’t remember half of it and the rest was just ok. My question to them was what activities have you enjoyed through the holidays in the past that made an impression on you? I asked which one they would like to do again.

holiday homeschool ideas

Their answers surprised me and almost made me feel guilty. They both said they enjoyed the holidays in smaller group activities with just a few kids. For instance, they could enjoy their time more. Both of them also said that we did so many things that it was blurry to think any of them was a favorite. For example, family time, making gifts, and the Christmas day at a local pioneer settlement was their absolute favorite and they viewed them as a tradition.

I think it was hard for them to admit.  However, they said they felt irritated and out of sorts after the holidays because our days were random and we didn’t have any of our normal routines. They were not complaining that their school work was less, however, that there wasn’t a basic routine in place.

polar express homeschool holiday

The shift

I found this information so valuable that I wanted to pass it on to you. Especially if you are a newer homeschool mom of younger children. In case you envision not missing out on fun opportunities. I have learned that savoring the few holiday activities we do is far more memorable than packing our weeks with crazy fun.


Finally, how can you look at the holiday season and map out a plan? Here are a few tips to keep your stress levels down and soak up the joy in your children this year:

  • Decide when your “season” will start. Is it both November and December? Is it one week here and two weeks there? We change our schedule around the second week of November through the first week of January.
  • Look at the festive opportunities available. Decide if it is worth your time, will your children benefit, and is it a crowd you want to spend hours of your day with.
  • Does saying yes to an activity bring more responsibility for you? Must you bring items, and help at a table or with a game?
  • Choose one activity per week. This includes home activities for the season as well. You may dream it will only take one hour to make chenille stick candy cane ornaments at the dining room table. However, the reality is it may take 3 days of intermittent work to get them all done.

Your schedule

  • Look at your current homeschool work week. Pare it down for your season. Keep your basic work and put everything else away. Add in read-aloud time with holiday books or choose one chapter book to read to older children. Read a chapter a day. Read-aloud time is my boys’ favorite memory and still the best time we have for our schooling. Your kids are never too old to read to them.
  • Choose holiday movies you would like to share with your children as part of your routine. If you have younger children, spread the movie out over several days. Sitting for two hours is a lot to ask, but making it family time, or mom gets things done around the house for thirty minutes is a fun distraction.
  • Do not feel guilty, beat yourself up, or have thoughts of quitting homeschooling during the holiday season. A change in routine is good for you and your kids. Use some of the downtimes to refresh yourself. Pour into yourself some of the time. I know that sounds crazy, but a quiet cup of coffee in a silent room can do wonders while the kids are watching The Polar Express.
  • Find an opportunity to do service in your community. This can be the best lesson of all for multiple ages. Serving others can tone down the gimmes and any overindulgent thoughts from parents.
  • Get outside! You knew I would say that right? Yes, go for walks, see the beauty in nature, and make simple nature crafts. Breathe in the fresh crisp air and note the changes in the natural world. Shedding the old and resting to begin anew. Nature has a lot for us to learn.

Shedding the old and resting to begin anew. Nature has a lot for us to learn.

how to homeschool through the holidays without losing your mind


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.