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Allow Specialization During December

Enjoy this personal post from our founder, The HomeScholar Emeritus, Lee Binz.

"No one would see him. These and numerous other seductive thoughts flew through Andrew's brain like arrows. It was Christmas Eve, and his parents were out doing a little last-minute shopping. There was a choice; be a good boy and go to bed or sneak into his parents' room and hunt for presents."

In our family, each December we did a version of "homeschool lite" that we called Christmas School. By my way of thinking, it must have been a homeschool mom who decided the Christmas holiday would be in December. After 3 months of homeschooling, it was time for a break! My favorite Christmas school project was our yearly creative writing assignment based on Norman Rockwell art.

I asked my boys to choose any picture in Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book. Their assignment was to write the story behind the picture. They came up with some GREAT creative writing ideas, and the pictures really helped to get those creative juices flowing. That was how my son Kevin came to write "The Santa Scandal."
During December, we would only do subjects that required us to be consistent to finish in one year. That usually meant math and foreign language. We did a writing assignment like the one above, but they would also write their Christmas cards and letters to friends. We listened to Handel's Messiah, and other Christmas music, and talked about the words and the composers. Then the boys would work on making presents for family and friends. They would finish their schoolwork at about noon. We had strict rules limiting TV and computer time during our "homeschool lite" season. The kids normally helped me with all the shopping, baking, cleaning, decorating and preparing. Then they spent the rest of the day pursuing their areas of passion.
December is a good time to allow specialization! Many students will do many hours of volunteer work. They may work hard on a Christmas play or musical. Older teens may consider a seasonal job or extra babysitting for friends. Make sure you somehow capture the hours from these activities and put it on their transcript. These hours might be a class called Occupational Education or Home Economics, but sometimes you'll want to save those hours to record them as volunteer work. You can find great baking ideas for your Home Economics class at The North Pole website. It has recipes for hundreds of traditional Christmas cookies and goodies.
When you are thinking about the presents you will give your children, focus on gifts that promote their specialization. What a wonderful way to give them a present and at the same time promote the "passion" that colleges are looking for! When my son Alex was in middle school, he asked for Teaching Company lectures on economics and music. He asked for Sonlight Core 400 when he was in 6th grade. Instead of Toys R Us catalog, give them homeschool catalogs, and see what happens. You may be surprised! Besides curriculum, we also bought them presents that later became the cornerstones of their college application. Kevin wanted chess books. Alex wanted sheet music, and ancient political tomes. Other kids might want a new musical instrument or other item specific to their favorite subjects. Go with it! Encourage your musician to learn lots of Christmas carols and have them play and sing at nursing homes.
By the way, Kevin's story about "The Santa Scandal" ends this way:

For a moment, the drawer seemed to contain nothing of importance. There was nothing but dusty, red clothes. Andrew dug deeper and uncovered a pointy fur hat. "Now that's odd. Why would Dad have red clothes and a hat? Unless..."

As his thoughts slowly caught up with him, his parents barged in from the living room - early. Andrew let out a strangled cry and whirled about. In his hands was the incriminating evidence, and on his face was written a mixture of horror, disbelief, and betrayal. Shaking with tears, he finally cried out, "You STOLE Santa's clothes?!?"
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Sunday, 21 April 2024

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