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Celebrate the Simple!

By Maryann Turner
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #26, 1998.

The holiday season is the perfect time to take advantage of many opportunities to share the joy of learning.

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Maryann Turner

Have you ever needed a good reason to buy a ton of books or games? Or a good excuse to take some time to cuddle and read in front of the fireplace?

The holiday season is the perfect time to take advantage of the variety of opportunities to share the joy of learning with your children. Just like a special secret among pals, that joy can be shared and treasured forever. All you have to do is take the time to read that special book together or actually play those games that your children received for Christmas.

It's easy to get caught up in the myriad of holiday activities and miss the simple pleasures, but the season is rich with windows of wondrous natural learning adventures. From Christmas carols to thank-you notes, real-life learning activities abound. All you have to add is excitement and fun, and that shouldn't be too hard during the most exciting time of year.

What can you do to enrich your holidays? First of all, look for and take advantage of the many "unschool" type learning opportunities of the season. Maybe your church is planning a Christmas drama or Thanksgiving skit, offering a perfect opportunity for your children to acquire some drama experience. As I mentioned earlier, Christmas caroling offers a new bent on your music lessons. Baking and making gifts can add to your art class, math class or home economics talents.

Don't forget addressing Christmas cards and gift tags! What better way to exercise our children's academic muscles than to have them send thank-you notes and holiday greetings? Even a letter to Jesus can enhance the understanding of the holidays, and give an added boost to language skills.

Instead of taking time off for the holidays, use the holidays as the focal point of your school year. Plan on using a couple of months of holiday time to enforce the basic areas of education. The opportunities for practicing reading, writing and math are innumerable.

When choosing gifts, choose wisely! With so many fun, educational choices out there, you can use your gifts as a springboard for filling the coming months with learning the easy way . . . by doing what children do best . . . playing! From books, puzzles, and games for the little folks to telescopes, microscopes, and models for your older children, you can assure yourself of your children's continued enthusiasm for exploring and expanding their interests.

On the other side of the tinsel-clad coin, don't get so caught up in outside activities that you lose sight of the real reason for the festivities. Spend lots of time discussing Christ's birth and immersing your children in the holiness of the holidays.

Don't allow dust to gather on the new games that you spent hard-earned money to buy. Get down on the floor and play! Share their excitement!

We often get so caught up in the "have tos" of the holidays that we don't allow ourselves time to let the peace of the holidays control our decision-making, and we end up overextending ourselves timewise and financially. Then Satan gets his foot in the door, and we lose our focus on the joy of Christ's birth. Instead, take time to listen to your children. Take time to smile at their excited chatter. All too soon they will be making memories with babies of their own.

Creativity and imagination makes the holiday spirit special. Take advantage of the excitement! Start building traditions that last from generation to generation. Don't worry about the time you lose academically during the busy season of celebrating; instead celebrate the knowledge your children will acquire doing the simple things that define our holiday traditions.

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