Welcome to this holiday edition of Mom’s Night Out: Homeschooling During the Holidays with Yolanda Pugh! Yolanda is a wife, mom, business owner, and homeschool parent, her youngest child graduating with both their high school diploma and their Associate’s degree this May! Yolanda is a math teacher and has taught and tutored math for over 25 years (you can find her here on Outschool). She describes herself as an HSP – a highly-sensitive person – which gives her the gift of connecting with others to provide patient and supportive instruction. She is also President of True View Education Ministries and offers counseling and coaching to other homeschool parents.
Yolanda joined us to share her approach to homeschooling during the holiday season. During this Q&A, she provided great ideas for activities that blend meaningful learning with fun and enrichment.
How do you homeschool during the holidays?
Our typical homeschool routine changes mid-November, as we enter into “holiday mode” and begin preparing for Thanksgiving. December shifts from formal homeschooling to project-based learning and practical skills development. The kids are included in creating this informal “curriculum,” which generally involves cooking projects, making homemade gifts, providing ministry, and serving our community.
How does teaching practical skills tie into homeschool learning?
I like to let my children take ownership of a project from start to finish. If they choose to bake cookies to give out as gifts, they will develop a plan for each step involved. Choosing recipes, writing out shopping lists, determining where to purchase ingredients and packaging supplies, comparing prices, and coming up with a budget all compliment their academics and allow them to use what they’ve learned in a functional sense. They are conducting research, taking measurements, estimating, practicing math and spelling skills with hands-on, practical activities. If your child chooses crochet as a homemade gift project, the same lessons apply – choosing, reading, and following a pattern, pricing yarn and gift packaging, counting stitches, even time management. Any creative project can be turned into an opportunity to teach them practical life skills. Plus, they will be having so much fun, they won’t even realize they are still in school!
What kinds of service projects are good for families?
Children benefit so much from the lessons they learn when they serve others. There are endless ways to get your kids involved in community service. Preparing themed care packages – personal hygiene kits for women’s shelters, kids kits with small games and art supplies, clothing kits for emergency foster care providers, making brown bag lunches for homeless people – are all wonderful ways to involve young-aged children. Older kids can volunteer with food banks, meal delivery programs, and soup kitchens, which brings a more humanizing aspect to their service project. All children benefit from these lessons, but children who are more self-centered can especially benefit, as they learn empathy and humility, and gain a deeper appreciation for their blessings.
Where can I look for more ideas for service projects?
If you are looking for ways to serve those who need help the most, churches are a great place to start. They often know families that can be “adopted” during the holidays – providing meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas gifts for children, or home visits to church members who may be homebound and alone. Reach out to friends and ask them if they know of a family who is struggling and in need of assistance. Nursing homes often invite children to perform for their residents (who will love watching and listening to your child play the violin, no matter how out of tune it sounds!). If your child has a specific outreach activity in mind, this is a great opportunity for them to apply their investigative skills. Have them make the phone calls, speak directly to organizations, and practice their phone etiquette and presentation skills.
There are some terrific websites that offer ideas as well. Amy Austin, Christian homeschool mom and blogger, shares some terrific ideas for small kits that kids can help make and distribute (such as thank you kits for essential workers at supermarkets and pharmacies, who often work on holidays) to show their appreciation to community members that are traditionally overlooked. Christmas survival kits are a fun idea, and can easily be tweaked for a secular-themed survival kit. Kids can be put in charge of organizing and stocking a “snack basket” for UPS, FedEx, USPS, or other delivery workers, filling it with grab and go items like chips or cookies, with a note thanking them for their hard work. You can read more about her ideas here.
Epic HSN has partnered with Meals on Wheels for a terrific community service project for kids: writing letters that will be included in meal boxes. We often overlook small gestures such as this, but letters of encouragement and support can have a big impact on those who now, more than ever, are suffering due to isolation. You can join the mission here.
If you’re not already a member of Epic HSN, please join! Mom’s Night Out is just one of the benefits of membership. Meetups, field trips, discounts, and access to exclusive webinars and materials are just some of the things you’ll enjoy. Best of all, you’ll get to be a part of this active, caring community of homeschool moms. Visit our membership center for more details.