Homeschooling – Avoid the Holiday Trap

It doesn’t seem to matter which holiday it is, but at each major holiday that falls in the school year, parents are heard to say, “Can you believe how fast this year is going?” Why we continue to be surprised is a riddle, but every year is the same thing. Along with that confusion also comes the inevitable reality that students may or may not be doing as well in school as parents had hoped. This is true for all parents, but for homeschoolers, too.

Approaching holidays have a way of blurring the focus for homeschoolers, just like they do for students in public and private schools. All that has to happen is for someone to mention the holiday, and homeschoolers can begin to look at the calendar, wistfully wondering when the break is coming. The problem with this loss of focus, however, is that it always slows down the progress that needs to be made for students to naturally develop and grow mentally from month to month, and year to year.

One way to avoid the holiday trap of lost time for homeschoolers is to keep a simple calendar for the year. Homeschool parents can have a master list of key dates and what needs to be accomplished by each key date. These can be monthly or quarterly, but the more regularly that homeschool families check their progress against a monthly “target,” the better off the family will be. Having a monthly list of non-negotiable skills or lessons completed will allow the homeschool student to stay on track, but also give the parent a motivational tool. If, for instance, the targets for the month have all been met two school days early, then the homeschool family can decide to keep working, or to take two days off!

While it’s also not common, and certainly seems odd to the “world,” remember that there are seven days in a week. If a holiday is approaching for which the homeschool family wants to take some time away from school, or if they find that they’ve gotten a little off pace, then some of the work can be done on the weekends or in the evenings in order to make the targets within the right time frame and be able to enjoy the holiday.

Clearly though, to make this happen, the homeschool parent needs to have a master plan for the year. The only way to avoid the holiday trap is to create this master plan and then stick to it. For some homeschooling families, the lessons in the book seem to drive the year, and when students get off pace in their lessons, no one notices until the year has gone by. Instead of doing this, let the calendar drive the year and make sure that the homeschool lessons fit the master calendar. Holidays will be much more enjoyable this way, and learning will be more efficient!

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