Hectic Advent? Change your school calendar

posted in: Homeschool & Parenting | 5

D and M light Advent candlere you already stressed by the pressure of Christmas preparations on top of your homeschooling and parenting duties? You don’t have to be. You can reduce the pressure by doing less–less teaching, that is.

One of the first books about homeschooling I read was The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. My favorite takeaway was to consider an alternate school calendar. Most states don’t require you to follow the calendar or hours of the public schools. (Check your state’s law at HSLDA if you’re not sure.) So, if it doesn’t fit your family’s lifestyle, why do it?

Take a long break for Advent and Christmas

We divide our school year into 12-week trimesters, beginning the Monday after Labor Day, right after our parish’s Harvest Festival. On the first Monday of Advent, we start a 6-week vacation from regular school. Most years this runs roughly from Thanksgiving through the first week of January.

Every day of Advent and Christmas, we do at least one special project or event. Some days, this is as simple as wrapping presents or addressing envelopes. On feasts days, we do special activities. For example, for the Immaculate Conception (December 8), we make paper snowflakes to symbolize Mary’s purity. We decorate our windows with them while our neighbors are putting up their Christmas lights.

We also take a long break for Easter

Our second school break starts during Holy Week, if not before. If the Church calendar doesn’t allow for a full 12 weeks of teaching before then, we add a week or 2 to our final trimester. But it often works out perfectly. We take 4 weeks off total. Besides helping us keep the holy season, this break gives us time to plant our garden.

The down side to our calendar is that summer vacation is only 6 weeks. Most of our friends are on break long before we are. But we participate in summer sports as part of our Physical Education for the year. That gives us more time to play, socialize, and enjoy the outdoors while still having school. A shorter summer break also makes for less review when school stars again.

You can make smaller changes to your calendar too

If you’re not ready to completely change your calendar, try shortening your summer slightly and taking extra time off for Advent. Or cut your school day in half for a few weeks, adding the extra hours on elsewhere.

Advent has become one of my favorite times of year. Instead of being hectic, it’s a fun-filled, faith-filled vacation. If you think outside the schoolhouse, yours could be too.

Connie Rossini

Share with Us: How do you keep from being overwhelmed during Advent? Do you use an alternate school calendar?

This is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Roundup.

5 Responses

  1. Gretchen

    Hi Connie!
    We are only in our second year of homeschooling but we have decided to do more of a half schedule this year during the holiday season. We sort of did last year as well, but mostly because I was switching curriculum mid year. I just added some extra time in here and there and into the summer to even it all out. We want to put as much focus as we can on Jesus! And frankly, we need the break for a bit. We are focusing on simplifying things all throughout the month so we can be learning about making our family closer and God’s beautiful plans and provision for us as His Children. I’m blogging on it over at http://www.31cups.blogspot.com. I invite you to check it out!

    Gretchen 🙂

  2. Connie Rossini

    Gretchen, thanks for visiting and commenting. Absolutely, this season should be all about our Lord, not following the culture and getting stressed out. I didn’t know you were blogging too. I’ll come take a look.

  3. Rachelle

    Oh I so wish I could do something like this. But I have a husband with a “school at home” mentality, so it doens’t fly. But we do lighten up a bit to focus on what Christmas is about and to make more cookies and read more Christmas books. Great post. I can’t tell you how much of a positive influence Catholic homeschooling blogs have been in my journey. I get many ideas and inspiration.

  4. Connie Rossini

    We all do what we can. Fortunately for us, my husband leaves most of the schooling decisions to me. In any case, family harmony is more important than any method of education.

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