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December 2016

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Christmas, Ask Jeanne, Homeschooling Efficiency, and More…

From the Editor

TheHomeSchoolMom Newsletter, December 2016

Photo credit: Shannon Henriksen

This issue you’ll find the teaching calendar, recent posts, and featured article, but as is usual in June and December, I am foregoing educational links and instead including seasonal posts from our archives. Enjoy the newsletter (and the holidays)!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

Teaching Calendar

December 14, 2016 — South Pole First Reached – 1911

December 15, 2016 — Bill of Rights Day

December 16, 2016 — Boston Tea Party – 1773

December 20, 2016 — South Carolina First to Secede – 1860

December 21, 2016 — Pilgrims Disembarked at Plymouth – 1620

December 22, 2016 — Beatrix Potter died this day in 1943

December 24, 2016 — Hanukkah

December 25, 2016 — Christmas

December 26, 2016 — Tsunami in Indian Ocean – 2004

December 28, 2016 — Endangered Species Act passed – 1973

December 31, 2016 — WWII End of Hostilities – 1946

January 1, 2017 — Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln – 1863

January 1, 2017 — New Year’s Day

January 4, 2017 — Louis Braille born this day in 1809

January 7, 2017 — First US Presidential Election – 1789

View the entire calendar »


Seasonal Posts

Home(schooling) for the Holidays

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Home(schooling) for the holidaysWhen our family was young, normal homeschooling routines went out the window during the holidays. We hung on through Halloween, but Thanksgiving was a clear line of demarcation: We’d squeeze in family holiday traditions, performances, programs, and service work — and a lot of our usual learning routines and classes were squeezed out or not even scheduled. Why should homeschoolers worry less about schoolwork during the holidays and embrace the season? Continue reading »

Writing a Holiday “How-to” Paragraph

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Home(schooling) for the holidays As holiday decorations come out and the tree or menorah take center stage,children can become increasingly distracted, sidetracked, and fidgety in anticipation of upcoming seasonal celebrations. The holidays can be a great time to assign writing activities that focus on the festivities, allowing children to immerse themselves in the fun while encouraging productivity. This month, have your kids write a paragraph describing a holiday-themed process where they explain, in a step-by-step manner, how something is done using these instructions. Continue reading »

Fun Family Christmas Projects

Fun Family Christmas ProjectsIf there’s ever a time to put aside the books and break out the project supplies with the kids, it’s Christmas! With all of the emphasis on baking, making crafts, decorating, learning the history of Christ’s birth, and establishing family traditions, Christmas for homeschoolers is like sitting down to a buffet of children’s enrichment. Even if you homeschool with academics throughout the month of December, be sure to save some time in the day for some special family projects that will bring the family together and make the season meaningful for your children! Continue reading »

Christmas Traditions

Christmas TraditionsAs soon as Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas excitement begins! The whole month of December is an amazing opportunity to establish family traditions — rituals that ground children in their roots and help them to create meaning and a sense of belonging. Family traditions help to mark shared experiences, encourage intimacy and connection, and help children to identify in a positive way with their families. Consider, for example, the tradition of the family meal… Continue reading »

Celebrating Christmas with School

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Celebrating Christmas with SchoolDuring the month of December, there’s no better place to be than in the house of a home educator! This month provides so many opportunities for creative, fun learning as families help children prepare for Christmas. Arts and crafts, special recipes, decorating, singing… it’s worth taking a bit of a break from the academic rigor maintained through most of the year in order to enjoy some special Christmas-related activities as a family. To get the most out of the holiday, why not try a special study to prepare for Christmas? Christmas lapbooks, Advent devotionals, unit studies – the possibilities are endless! Check out some of these wonderful options for homeschooling in December… Continue reading »

Recent Blog Posts

Ask Jeanne: Is My Wife Really Homeschooling?

Ask Jeanne: Is My Wife Really Homeschooling?Question: My wife has been homeschooling my 6 and 8 year old daughters for almost 2 years now. At first I was against it but after it caused friction in my home, I decided to support her. Lately, I have been in a dilemma. I’ve noticed that my wife hasn’t done any school work with my kids for months now (about 2 months to be exact). Anytime I mention if they she have done school with the kids, she gets highly upset. We went through a lot when she decided to do homeschool and I don’t want to cause her to get upset and for us to take steps backwards. When I mention something, she says I’m questioning the way she wants to raise the kids and that I don’t support her. My wife is nurse and mostly works weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights). We have a 3 year old. Most of the time when I come home, my wife is either on the phone or in the bed sleep. How should I approach this situation? I think it’s best for the kids to be in school rather than her homeschooling. The kids themselves say they miss school. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks. Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: How Much Is Enough?In Facebook homeschooling groups and in real life homeschool group meetings, I frequently see new homeschoolers asking “Am I doing enough?” You ask this about all ages, from preschool through high school, though it tends to center around the earliest years of homeschooling. The “Am I doing enough?” question often comes from a point of surprise. Continue reading »

Did School Happen Here Today?

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Did School Happen Here Today?An occasional complaint of the primary homeschooling parent (most often Mom) is that the other parent (most often Dad) does not appreciate any learning for which he doesn’t see first hand evidence. If “learning” happens while Dad is away working, but he happens to come home to kids who are on the internet, watching television, or “just playing,” he may not believe any “school” took place in his absence. This can certainly be a reasonable concern that a father has for wanting to make sure that the children he loves are being well educated. Continue reading »

Homeschool Reset with the “Let’s” Effect


Let’s explore the “Let’s” Effect.

Instead of relying on command and demand, a homeschooling parent can say “Let’s” — and inspire rather than require.

“Let’s take a walk and look for red and gold leaves.”
“Let’s look that up online.”
“Let’s read a chapter together.”
“Let’s figure out what the tip would be if our restaurant bill were a million dollars.”
“Let’s paint.”
“Let’s bake some cookies and take them to the neighbors.”
“Let’s find Argentina on the map.”
“Let’s get some books about volcanoes from the library.”

Let’s is, of course, the contraction for “let us,” and it can be a powerful invitation to learning and positive activities. The emphasis is on doing something together — us doing something. The onus for action isn’t on the child alone. Instead of a hypodermic needle model, where you’re trying to inject learning into a child, you’re seeking to cultivate more of the companion model — learning something side-by-side with your child, who is experience learning with you, not because you said so.

One way to make homeschooling more effective is to get involved on the child’s level. You each carry a basket for treasures you’ll find on your walk together. You sit down and paint your not-very-good-painting while your child paints at the table with you. You take your child to the library and model looking up a book in the computer catalogue; then you and your child search among the Dewey Decimal numbers on the shelf to see who can spot the book first.

If you do these things, you’re let’s-ing.

The “Let’s” Effect can be the general daily nature of your homeschool, or you can simply remember to use the “Let’s” Effect when your child needs to break through resistance or needs a higher touch day. You can also use it when you realize you’ve been pushing too hard and homeschooling in your household is feeling way too negative.

“Let’s go to the art museum.”

That very phrase once saved one of my sons and me from the further ravages of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad homeschooling day.

When things are not working, sometimes having “Let’s” at the tip of your tongue can help you make more responsive adjustments so you and your child can experience a more successful day together. Remember, you’re on the same side.

Also remember, children’s emotional states, their environment for learning, and their relationships greatly affect their cognitive development. No one is learning as much when things are in a turmoil.

If your homeschooling is stuck, sometimes the best thing to do is step back, take a deep breath, and reset with the “Let’s” Effect.

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