By author Shari McMinn
When homeschooling unique learners, it is a necessary constant to work on relationships while doing ‘school.’ Three times a year, our family ditched the books altogether and enjoyed doing special things to make memories, draw nearer to one another, and enjoy family fellowship as a respite from our often crazy, busy lives. A week during March for spring break, three months for summer break, and the month of December for Christmas break were such times. After 28 years of homeschooling, I can say that — without a doubt — these were the best learning times for my children and me, as their teaching parent.
Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed … And He told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, lest they crush him (Mark 3:7, 9 ESV).
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the weight of my life is crushing. I need to get with my kids away from everyone and everything that seems to be consuming us. As you approach the coming New Year’s weekend, I suggest you consider the following recommendations to slow down and recharge, yet still have a meaningful time of learning as individuals and growing together as a family. Here are some suggested relationship-building activities to do with your students, away from the hustle and bustle of this season.
- Put the ‘curriculum’ books away, opting instead for classic literature read-alouds or audio books.
- Enjoy a double-feature at-home movie night with snacks; fall asleep late in the screening room.
- Bundle up warm and spend time stargazing in your backyard or driving on a country road.
- Learn a new board game; littles can team with teens or parents for more challenging games.
- Gather recycled materials you have on-hand, then make imaginative structures with them.
- Work on a 1,000 piece puzzle; do it on a table where it can be worked on over several days.
- Drive around looking at Christmas lights still up in neighborhoods with fancy displays.
- Enjoy a cheese and chocolate fondue night; everyone can join in from prep to clean-up.
- Roast marshmallows for s’mores over candles at the kitchen table while singing ‘campfire’ songs.
Those don’t sound much like ‘school,’ but consider that your children will learn these valuable skills:
- brainstorming ideas of how to accomplish the planned activity
- cleaning up, which benefits everyone and can be made fun if listening to ‘dance’ music
- finding supplies and organizing them on a table or in a vehicle
- learning that life is about living well not just studying to a grade level or test
- making siblings and parents into best friends for life
- sharing their opinions and listening to others
- taking turns and learning to patiently wait for their turn
Is this all a waste of time? Will it really matter? Are kids actually learning? Well, take it from me … yes! I just spent Thanksgiving out-of-town with five of my adult children, two in-law spouses, and two grandchildren. I literally had to do nothing except show up and watch the fun. (Well, they did ask me to make our family favorite homemade cranberry sauce!) All my adult kids had learned so much while in homeschool, that they cleaned-up, cooked, conversed, discussed, entertained, planned, played, and prepared for five days of a wonderful family vacation together. They are indeed sibling best friends! There was not a cross word nor a thing left undone. Each had struggled during childhood in different areas of homeschooling, some having to overcome emotional or learning labels. Yet, they are now each successfully thriving in adulthood. Life is learning. Do it together and be blessed.
Finally, you might want to check out these web pages:
- SPEDHomeschool.com has this excellent post, Pursuing Parent Care During Demanding Seasons.
- Need a homeschooling IEP? Download Empowered Homeschool’s FREE IEP Template and Guide.
- Find lots of helpful resources at our CHEC.org webpage for Unique Learners.
To start off the 2023 new year with our best foot forward, I’ll write about developing godly character in our families for the next Unique Learners blog post on January 18th (the third Wednesday).
Shari McMinn, your trusted homeschooling friend
PS: If you have a topic you want me to cover, please email me with your suggestion(s).