How to Homeschool High School through the Holidays

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It’s that time of year! When parents and students are swept up into the holiday spirit. It seems once Thanksgiving comes, everyone wants to play Christmas. Homeschooling High School means your teens could be engaged in course work that must continue. If you school year round, this is often a possibility. But, how do you handle the holidays when you don’t school year round and your high schoolers can’t take off a whole month for holiday fun? Homeschooling Older Kids through the Holidays offers a game plan for you and your teens to keep learning and enjoy the season.

holiday greens hanging on a door with a title

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“The holidays” happen right in the middle of the second quarter of the school year.

It’s easy to lose time from the end of November through the first week of the new calendar year.

But, if you have a high schooler, you can’t just do “Christmas School” for a month anymore. Gone are the days when the holidays and all of its activities can provide school work for that six weeks or so.

After all, that’s six weeks out of a nine week quarter.

This is especially true if you have high school seniors who are finishing work for their college applications or simply finishing course work to high school well.

Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not a slave to curriculum! However, as our kids get older, bigger things are at stake. Finishing Algebra is required before taking advanced algebra and geometry both of which are necessary for success on the PSAT and SAT.

So, we simply do not have the time set aside to take the whole month of December off from our curriculum.

Of course, the month of December is not what will make or break whether or not we finish when we’d like to, but it does have a significant effect on momentum.

Strategies for Homeschooling High School in December

papers and greens with an Advent calendar

Participate in an Advent Study– We love Advent in Narnia which is lovely. The study focuses on the first portion of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as everyone awaits the arrival of Aslan.


Each lesson coincides with a piece of this familiar story and takes us into the world to reflect on Christ’s coming in this world. These have been outstanding for us and it’s not too late to jump in. Each reading will draw you into the story and the questions that go with the lesson are compelling. This study is appropriate for the whole family. It’s helped to quiet our souls and keep us connected to Christmas and it only takes a few minutes each morning during Morning Meeting Time.

Make Ornaments– We can take on small projects and still get our regular work finished. When our kids were younger, we always made ornaments and it can get overwhelming to have four of everything every year. However, I’ve found the last few years that none of the kids have as many ornaments on the tree as our oldest (he made piles in his public school kindergarten) and our youngest has the fewest. Time to make sure we even the score!

Homeschooling Older Kids through the Holidays

Take Some Time to Bake– I’m not a good candidate for all day baking projects, but short spurts of a batch here and there I can handle. This sort of baking fits in with regular school work. Enlist some eager teenagers to work with you.

Incorporate the Holidays into Your Daily Read Alouds– We read aloud daily as a whole family. In addition to our Advent study and school related read alouds, we will insert some holiday favorites such as, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is always good for a laugh and an extraordinary example of grace.

a red book on a black notebook with a berry trim on wood

Watch Holiday FavoritesHow the Grinch Stole Christmas and Charlie Brown Christmas are annual watches at least once along with Elf. You don’t have to do this during your regular instructional time, but they make a nice break or evening activity.

Focus on Subjects Which Need to Keep the Momentum– like math and writing or perhaps there is a subject that you are beginning to lag in. Choose that one to continue for the month of December. Allow some of the other topics to take a break or relate them to another study.

Take a Holiday Break from Homeschooling High School

Eventually, it will be time to take a break.

When you do, here’s a pro tip:

When it’s time for a break, take it and make it a clean break!

Decide what day you will finish the more formal work and stick to it.

Make sure you take a clean break so everyone feels like they’ve had one. I’ve made the mistake of taking “sort of” breaks and they usually don’t work well in the end. We break for Christmas around December 21st to the 23rd and slowly start back up again around January 2nd.

The holidays are a time of anticipation and joy, but they can easily be overwhelming and lead to over commitment and illness.

What strategies for learning do you use during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Homeschooling Older Kids through the Holidays

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  1. Thank you for saying what I feel–that though we’re not slaves to curriculum, we really can’t afford to take a whole month off for Christmas. It’s nice to not feel alone. 🙂

    1. Anne,
      Thanks for saying so! I think I hit a nerve with this post because people are reading like crazy! ha Yeah…it gets a little lonely when you aren’t fun and games all month long! But, it’s fun to keep the momentum going and inject a little whimsy here and there. Maybe if we schooled year round this would be a chunk of down time, but the weather here is too nice in the summer to be hitting the books. We need to keep working the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keep up the great work!

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