Homeschooling in December without losing your cookies


Written by Kara S. Anderson

This week, we officially enter a time of year that many people refer to as “the holidays.”

And then they sigh. And then they stuff down a panic attack.

Because “the holidays” in our culture has come to mean a time of busyness and stress – a time when all of our shortfalls feel so obvious and our chance to make memories feels so short.

We all feel like we are doing it wrong, and everyone else is doing it better, and then when you add homeschooling to that … it’s sort of a Christmas miracle that more of us don’t end up passed out under the tree, full of eggnog and self-loathing.

Let’s not let this be us this year – OK?

Let’s figure out some ways to make this time more joyful, and simpler, and less stressful. In fact, let’s imagine one of those fancy advent calendars that we get for our kids … But instead, it’s one just for us – homeschool moms – and it has a box for each day, and inside each box is a little note that says something encouraging:

  • it’s going to be OK
  • your kids don’t care about tablescapes
  • how can I make this a little easier?
  • does this matter? or am I tired, hungry, or comparing myself to someone on the Internet?
  • where is my daily cookie?

Wouldn’t that be a lovely gift to ourselves? I mean, the daily cookies, especially, right?


Bring that joy

So here’s something fun – a few weeks ago, Julie from Brave Writer asked Cait and I if we wanted to take over her Instagram account for a day. Professionally, we were like, “yes, this sounds like a great opportunity,” but between the two of us the Voxers sounded a lot more like: “Ahhhhhhhhhh! Yes. Totally. When do we start. Ahhhhhhh!”

It was a simple project. We each needed to submit a few photos with captions. But here was my struggle: in every single photo, I kept overusing the word, “Joy.” The Brave Writer lifestyle brings “joy” to our lives; it has replaced anxiety and worry with “joy.”

I worried I would sound a bit repetitive and like Julie’s Instagram had been hacked by an elf.

But what I realized in that experience is that for me, Brave Writer = Joy. And part of that is because it gives us permission to be us. No more forcing circle times. No more timed math until somebody cries (often me.)

Instead, we can do things like watch documentaries together and have big juicy conversations. Yeah!


So how to do that in December?

So I bet you are wondering how we can do that in December. I think there are probably a lot of ways, but here is what I brainstormed yesterday for our family:

History: Talk to family we don’t often see about our family’s history, where we came from and old stories. Our family has been doing a genealogy project this year using primarily We’ve found so many interesting bits of history: census data; ship manifests; draft cards, so I think it will be fun to talk with family about that when we see them.

We had one great-uncle on my mom’s side who was drafted for WWI and WWII – the second time he was well into his 60s. Later, he lived in a hotel that is reportedly haunted. That last part could be hooey – but it’s a heck of an ice-breaker.

Math: Bake. Here’s the thing – we are going to bake anyway, and we are going to double and triple everything anyway, especially this. If it makes you feel better, call it a “Fractions Intensive.”

Geography: Send Christmas cards. (Maybe). Learn about Christmas and winter holidays around the world – we love this. It’s really fun as we learn more about our own family history too.

Art/Science: Make stuff and decorate. One of the things I am most excited about it making these candles this year!

Community Service: Each year, our family picks one organization and we try to find ways to help. But currently, through our co-op, we’re making blankets for Project Linus, so I’m wondering if this will continue through Christmas.

My kids also had the idea recently to make care bags for homeless people in our community to keep in our car. Because this is their idea, I want to let them be in charge of it as much as possible – I’ll let you know that they come up with!

Language Arts: We’re going to read. We’re going to read like nuts. All the Christmas books we can get our hands on. (But our favorites are Jan Brett.)

And we’re going to watch movies. Like nuts. All the Christmas movies we can get our hands on. (But our favorite is White Christmas).

Is this slacking?

Well, that depends. I think it can feel like slacking when it isn’t the plan. But when we set an intention to make time together our focus for the month of December, it just feels like the plan.

Plus – there’s that joy thing.


NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN. TELL US: HOw do you handle holiday learning at your house? SHARE HERE!


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5 thoughts on “Homeschooling in December without losing your cookies

  1. Daksina says:

    This is just what I needed to read Kara! Since learning more about the Brave Writer lifestyle, I’ve tried to let go of so many forced things and instead focus on what brings joy to all of us. But it’s scary and every day I have doubts – mainly, am I doing enough? So thank you for reminding me that when the plan is to do less, it’s ok to let go.


  2. Heather A says:

    Great post! Sighing and stuffing down a panic attack is really what the holidays are all about in my mind. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    My children are younger, and I love using Christmas cards (and thank you cards for gifts received) as printing and spelling practice. I usually make up a box of blank cards, and holiday coloured markers, stickers, etc – and we just leisurely plug away at the cards, one or two at a time for several weeks. Inside the lid of the box, I’ll post key phrases that my children might need help spelling. Bonus: walking to the mailbox gets us out of the house on these days when it’s cold and dark but not yet snowy enough to enjoy.

    We also love Jan Brett books for Geography – so many take place in other countries, or are retelling of traditional folk tales. We always keep an atlas next to our favourite reading couch – for looking up locations, flags, etc.

    And a big yes to fractions intensive! All year round!

    Thank you as always for the encouragement.


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