By Tara Clark
The holidays are upon us!
Some of you started anxiously awaiting the return of this season before last Christmas was over! You have longed for the return of the comforting smell of cinnamon and fir trees or the embrace of family members that only visit during the holiday season. For you, this season means feelings and people you love are near (comfort, family, etc).
Some of you are discouraged this season. The gatherings leave you feeling exhausted or the financial stress weighs a little too heavily on your shoulders. This Christmas season may feel darkened by grief or an unwelcome diagnosis. For you, this season means longing for people or things that are far away (solitude, a lost loved one etc).
Whether you fit in one of those two groups or — like me — both, most of us at some point will find ourselves at max capacity this season, yearning for…
…a little more time to finish that lesson.
…a few more dollars to make Christmas wishes and fancy meals a reality.
…a bit more energy to host dinner for those new neighbors.
Yet 1 Peter 4: 8–9 reminds us Above all, keep loving one another earnestly… Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
As you enter into December, be reminded that Christ has already established our priorities and we should adjust accordingly. Consider these 5 tips to deeply experience this holiday season by maximizing the flexibility homeschooling offers your family.
- Adjust your schedule to prioritize time with God.
When making out that holiday schedule, be intentional about prioritizing spending time with God. We all know He is the reason for the season, but seriously — He is the reason for the season, and our time in His presence during the Christmas holiday should be abundant.
Consider ditching extracurricular activities or studies this month to deep dive into lessons, devotionals, or experiences that center around the birth of Christ. With live nativity scenes, Christmas plays, and Christian holiday music seasonably available, take advantage of these fleeting opportunities to enhance home discipleship.
- Adjust your schedule to allow for hospitality.
“Homeschool Friendsgiving” occurs in my home faithfully every year (usually late in December). Part of this tradition involves reading the story of Jesus’ birth over smores. It’s a simple, low-prep tradition, but it opens our door to many friends and friends-to-be each year. Co-op cookie baking days, homeschool movie days, or Christmas caroling parties are other options; but remember, big traditions can be crafted from simple shared activities. Homeschool students will likely learn more through serving others on these “special” days than they ever could on a traditional homeschool day.
- Adjust your schedule to create time to serve others.
Serving opportunities — especially family-friendly ones — are ample this time of year. Could your family serve a Christmas meal together at a homeless shelter? Could filling a shoebox help your children see beyond First World abundance? Or could you homeschool a few extra kids on a Christmas-themed day so their parents could do a little shopping?
Planned and organized opportunities to serve will be available; but keep your eyes open for spontaneous opportunities as well. If you want to discover a chance to serve others this season, simply look and wait.
- Adjust your schedule to protect the most important
Children have to eat. Clothes have to be cleaned. Sure. But does the duty to complete everyday tasks prevent you from welcoming others into your home for coffee, conversation, or a holiday meal?
I encourage you this season to snooze some to-do list items until 2023. Projects that are not completed over the break will wait patiently for your return in January. Your child will still graduate even if you skip that last planned lesson of 2022.
Opportunities to craft memories exploring the local Christmas light shows as a family, however, are fading with each passing day. Nativity scenes will be dismantled in a few short weeks. And the friend at co-op you keep putting off for coffee, is hurting deeply and desperately needs to be reminded of Christ’s love today. So, let the stuff that CAN wait, wait; and focus instead on what matters most this season.
- Adjust your schedule.
One of the many benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to adjust the school calendar based on the unique needs of unique families. Consider these two options as you head into December.
First, “Christmas school,” rich holiday unit studies, and deep dives into the birth of Christ (while momentarily pausing other subjects) DO count as education. December offers many enriching opportunities for unique field trips and experiences. Let your homeschool be fully immersed in the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Second, if you can, consider putting school aside all together. Sleep in. Watch black and white Christmas movies with popcorn before lunch. Cook breakfast over a fire on a Wednesday morning just because. Fill-in at church while others are traveling. Live and love well this season. School can resume as normal in January, and your family will return renewed from the break.
Friends, in this season of the celebration of Christ, we are called to love ABOVE ALL ELSE and show hospitality without grumbling. Our instructions are clear. Adjust your homeschool schedule confidently this Christmas, trusting that you know best which adjustments free your family to live out 1 Peter 4:8–9. Love others well this season — especially, THIS season.