Integrating Holidays and Celebrations into Homeschooling

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Next week we will celebrate our country’s birthday. Perhaps you will meet with friends and family, grill hot dogs, and set off fireworks. Children are always ready to participate in celebrations, but they do not always understand why there is a celebration.

Holidays and celebrations are a key ingredient in our quest for living real life with our children rather than providing artificial experiences that do not relate. We desire that when our children leave our home, they will be prepared for the roles God has for them as husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, church members, and citizens. One part of that preparation includes understanding the history and purpose of our celebrations and holidays.

Rather than seeing preparation for celebration as another thing to add to our already busy academic calendar, we would do well to see that preparation is the thing, it is the real life living that we are called to do with our children. Don’t “take off” from school to prepare for the Independence Day picnic. Make the preparations a part of school. Not only will you simplify your life, but you will naturally add meaning and depth to the event. Think of the lives of the patriots that could be studied at this time—Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Betsy Ross to name a few. What do the various symbols associated with the celebration mean? Why are the liberty bell, the flag, and fireworks an important part of the celebration?

These types of questions should be answered for many of our holidays and celebrations. The cycling of the calendar can provide a framework on which much learning is formed. If you look at the government’s educational standards, you will find that the most important historical events have some celebration attached to them. Simply read children’s books together about the holidays you are celebrating and you will cover most of the important content suggested.

Beyond the patriotic celebrations, holidays (Holy days) are times of remembering what God has done. The two most obvious, Christmas and Resurrection Day (or Easter), celebrate the key events in history: Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. Other events, such as Reformation Day are celebrated by Protestants to commemorate Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Church at Wittenberg.

This week make your picnic grocery list together, read a picture book together about the Fourth of July, make potato salad, let your child color a colonial flag coloring page while you decorate the cake, and grill your hot dogs and burgers together. Don’t feel guilty if you miss copywork or arithmetic practice that day. Your child is having a great day at school!

In what ways have you seen yourself mistakenly adopt a “schoolish” approach to teaching children? How do you fight against this tendency?

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