Tag Archive for: unschooling

Are you ready for Christmas break! Are your kiddos ready for Christmas break! I know ours are!

Christmas break is great for spending time together with your family but the things we learned before can sometimes get lost in all the holiday cheer! This year if you want to keep your kiddos brains fresh try some of these fun Christmas themed activities to keep those gears turning and ready for school to start again!

Gingerbread Cookies & Houses

Decorating cookies isn’t just so that you can eat the icing while decorating or gluing together walls, although that is the best part! Decorating cookies and making gingerbread houses is a great way for your students of any age to focus on something fun while building a number of important life skills! For your youngest learners decorating cookies and making gingerbread houses can be a great way to practice color recognition, strengthen their fine motor skills, and help lengthen their attention span by focusing on something fun! For older or middle aged learners these activities can help in similar ways! Decorating cookies can allow your students to express themselves visually as well as allow them to practice being an architect by figuring out the best way to keep the gingerbread house together and stable!

Popsicle Stick Christmas Trees

If you have learners that like more creative freedom and love hands-on crafts, try making popsicle stick Christmas trees! The wonderful thing about this project is that there is no right or wrong way to make the Christmas tree! You can make a simple triangle with the sticks and decorate it with pom balls, string, markers, glitter and more! Or you can place one large stick and place more sticks perpendicular to that stick getting smaller as they reach the top of the stick, and you could even choose designs that might be harder to complete like placing many smaller sticks at the top of the tree pointing toward the bottom of the tree in a fan like pattern!

Take these fun popsicle stick Christmas trees and turn them into Christmas decorations that you can hang on your Christmas tree!

12 days of Christmas

Our I’m Ready to Learn Themed program for Preschoolers goes through the 12 days of Christmas song and even walks you through creating your own 12 days of Christmas book to read and play with over Christmas break while you count down the days! Try making your own 12 days of Christmas book or use our I’m Ready to Learn Preschool program to walk you through it as you complete a full year of preschool at home!

Write Christmas Cards Together!

Write Christmas cards together this year with all your learners! For younger students this is a great way to practice writing letters and spelling and writing their own name. For older students this is a great way to help them understand what should be written on card and how you should write an address on a letter as well as how the stamps are used! You could even take them to the post office to send them out for a fun family outing!

This year make sure you take a break to spend the holidays with your family and listen to your instincts as a parent! If you feel your kids need a break then give them one, but if you feel they should keep their brains fresh for when you start school again then try some of these fun engaging holiday themed activities that will get their brains working without them even knowing!

Note from the Editor:

Have you ever struggled to know when you should structure your children’s learning and when they should be given freedom? Does your child show a strong disinterest in certain subjects, or worse an apathy toward learning in general? In this post, WinterPromise author and founder as well as mother of seven, Kaeryn Brooks offer some advice on this topic for homeschool parents.



A foundational goal of Charlotte Mason-style homeschooling is to create a love for learning. An important part of growing this learning love is having the freedom to investigate and self-motivate. But kids also need structure and direction, especially as they begin their homeschool journey. How can a parent strike the right balance?

For many parents, this might instantly bring to mind a conversation like this:

“Buddy, we can study anything you want — really — anything! What would you like to study?”

“I don’t know….”

“But you’re interested in a lot of things. What do you want to learn more about?”


“Come on, yes you do! Let’s put some ideas down on paper.”

(Paper begins to be filled with useless doodles as parent badgers child to come up with ideas. Score one for student as parent ends up frustrated and student has proven his “point.”)

“Come on, there must be at least one thing. Just tell me one thing you’d like to study. Anything.”

“Okay. Bagpipes. You know, like I saw that guy play last weekend at the Irish festival.”

(Parent leaps upon this idea.) “Irish music! You want to study Irish music?”

“No, I want to learn to play the bagpipes.”

“Bagpipes? We don’t have bagpipes! And I don’t know how to play the bagpipes! How are we going to do that?”

(Child, with more despondency than they actually feel, and a whine for good measure.) “But you said anything!”

Oh, is this familiar! And any experienced parent will tell you that this is the conversation that most parents have with their kids when they are offered a world of choices. Either the choices seem so limitless that they can’t make a choice, or they attach to an idea that (an adult knows) was never really on the table. Or both.

The only fix is a principle I call “Choices within Options.” That is, that children are given options from which to choose, and then they have the ability to choose what is to their liking. This is not strictly a homeschooling principle, of course, it is a parenting principle. I know, for instance, that my son should not be given unlimited control of what to wear to a funeral, as flip flops and pajama bottoms don’t make the cut. So I present to him the only pair of dress pants he owns, and say. “You have to wear these blue dress pants. Would you like to wear this sweater, your new shirt, or that button-down one you like so much?”

This principle of “Choices within Options” examples to students that even when we ourselves are making choices, not everything is a reasonable option. It provides the structure and direction that kids might not have on their own, and offers parents a point at which to provide meaningful input. And, in making their own choices between a limited number of options, children learn to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make better and more thoughtful decisions. In short, it teaches them to be decision-makers.

And because kids are making their own choices, they receive:

  • the benefit of self-motivation (“I like doing this because it’s what I wanted to do.”)
  • the opportunity to grow in perseverance and grit (“Even when I like it, it is still hard work.”)
  • the chance to learn to value the input of others (“I’m glad you gave me this option.”)
  • and, the opportunity to practice submission to the oversight of others.

Finding ways to provide “Choices within Options” allows you to provide your students with some well-thought-out options, and allows them to exercise control and practice good decision-making.

Do you have other ways to balance freedom with structure in your homeschooling? Be sure to share your strategies!


Kaeryn Brooks
Founder and Author of WinterPromise Publishing