The month of December, with all of the holidays and hype, can get crazy for homeschoolers. What I always wanted in the early years was a simplified homeschooling rhythm for December.
I’ve learned in my twenty+ years of homeschooling, that just pushing through the plans usually ends up with us throwing in the towel at some point and me feeling like a failure (again).
Really, it’s more like the lessons just fizzle out at some point. And come January, when I look back at where we left off, I’d always be disappointed in myself.
But what if we set up the month of December for success in our homeschooling? What might that look like?
Rather than planning full lesson blocks during this holiday season, how about a simplified rhythm.
The usual Waldorf main lesson block rhythm is a three-part lesson in a two-day rhythm. (Want more on this? Read Rhythm is (Always) the Answer.)
Instead, about 8 years ago and for my third child, I finally heeded the advice of my mentor, Barbara Dewey of Waldorf Without Walls, “Don’t plan any main lesson blocks for December.”
And then, I developed this simplified lesson structure for December so that I wouldn’t feel like it’s all or nothing.
How to Create a Simplified Homeschooling Rhythm for December:
- Warm up with a few songs and verses.
- Read a story aloud for the whole family.
- Make gifts (handwork projects) or holiday crafts.
So simple. Much less stress. And a set-up for success!
Here are a few examples of this simplified rhythm.
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Pick a few songs and verses, and then try one of these ideas:
- Read Sun Bread and bake bread. The recipe is in the back of the book. (See how simple this is!) If you have multiple ages and some older kids, you could have them work on cutting vegetables for a hearty soup. One of our new family favorites The Early Family’s African Curry. While the bread is rising and the soup’s in the crockpot, go out for a winter walk. And return for a warming winter meal.
- Read The Quiltmaker’s Gift and do a simple quilting project to give as a gift. Check out this easy potholder pattern.
- Read Trees of the Dancing Goats and make ornaments. (In the story, the ornaments are carved and painted wooden animals, but you could make any kind of ornament.) Here are lots of felt ornaments you might want to try.
- Read The Long Winter and knit scarves or hats or gloves. This could stretch over weeks, reading this chapter book and knitting. Here are some Easy Scarf Knitting Patterns for Beginners.
Want more book ideas? See 50+ Wholesome Winter Holiday Books for Children.
Join a wonderful community of homeschoolers inside Inspired at Home and get the support you need! Handwork + Stories (the perfect rhythm for December) is just one of the masterclasses inside this mentorship community full of learning, group coaching calls, and planning sessions. Join anytime, no long-term commitment.
Just remember, creating a simplified homeschooling rhythm for December will lead to happier holidays.
Let me know what you come up with!
I love these ideas, Jean! I especially love the “activity pacing” you mentioned in the webinar. I need to be more intentional about that all year! This month, many holiday events and a bout of illness have pushed us out of our rhythm. I’m trying very hard to think ahead to how we’ll re-establish rhythm in January while giving us permission to enjoy more restful, crafty, reading-centered days in December (a.k.a. instead of beating myself up for letting the rhythm flag). Your experience and wisdom are so helpful, as always! Happy Holidays to you & yours!
Thanks so much, Carly. We all need these reminders! The idea of activity pacing – with a vary active day followed by a calm one at home – has helped me so much in my homeschooling and my life. And isn’t it helpful to remind ourselves that holidays are for connecting with our families and are meant to be enjoyed?! That’s hard to do if everyone is stressed out. No more beating ourselves up! Just trying to simplify to the the point that this homeschooling thing is both doable and sustainable. Enjoy this holiday season with your family.
I have always wanted to do this, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to fit in everything I want to do block-wise for the whole year if I lose the entire month of December. (We don’t school in the summer.) This year, as we are now 2.5 weeks into a three week block on Norse Myths and grammar and beyond ready to scrap it all, I am writing myself a huge note for next Advent to NOT give into the temptation to do any main lesson blocks. So many of the Advent activities I wanted to do have gone by the wayside as we haven’t had time, and I’ve spent the month feeling so stressed about getting ready for the holidays. I do this to myself every year (this is our 7th year of homeschooling), but this year has been worse as I’ve had some unexpected computer and other issues that have put me so far behind in my shopping and preparations. I’m definitely not having fun at the moment, and I know this stress is not what this time of year should be all about. I read this post a few days ago, and today I finally sat down and started to write out a list of thoughts for December of next year… at the top of the list was “do not give in and do main lesson blocks, no matter how cool the block might seem or how much you think you need it!!!!” Maybe I will iisten to myself this time?
Oh, Lisa, I have so been there! When I’m in planning mode, I am forever optimistic that all will get done and that I need to plan a block for December, thinking this will be the year that I’ll be efficient and we’ll all be happy and the perfect Waldorf homeschoolers!!! Good for you for writing down your thoughts for next year. Because the truth is that when we push through trying to cram it all in, we don’t get either of the goals that we want. The lessons don’t get done because as you say we throw in the towel at some point, and we aren’t relaxed or ready for the holidays. What we want instead is to scale back to a simplified rhythm so that we can create that win-win situation. I do hope you can regroup this weekend and be gentle on yourself. Start where you are! Thanks for sharing here because your articulated what so many of us experience. Happy Holidays to you and your family.