Ahhh what to say about the final month in a very, very challenging year? This December was different than years prior in many ways. We were unable to celebrate Christmas with our extended families because of COVID and yet we were able to spend a lot of time with my parents, because they’re our bubble and we were living with them for part of the month. Normally December is 24/7 Nutcracker for our family, as our eldest has danced in Oregon Ballet Theater’s Nutcracker the past two years. This year we had zero commitments outside the home. Also, normally I suspend our homeschool lessons in December in favor of a slow month of reading Christmas books, baking and handiwork but this year our Christmas books were in a storage pod due to a never-ending remodel so we stuck with homeschool for most of the month. As with the rest of 2020, we learned to be flexible and adapt to our circumstances.
This post may contain affiliate links.
I had planned for my fifth grader to do a geometry block for this month. We are using the Waldorfish fifth grade geometry course, which was lovely and – major bonus – didn’t require any planning or teaching from me.
The Waldorfish lessons were quite short, so I ended up creating a very Charlotte Mason-y morning of quick and varied lessons for my fifth grader to do – some independently and some with me. Over the course of this year I’ve been observing my fifth grader getting more and more comfortable with independent work and so this month I decided to run with it and give myself a break from our typical main lesson routine.
What worked for us in December was, generally:
- A Daily Word Ladder
- A page or two of math from the Key to Fractions workbooks
- A lesson from this Writing and Spelling Workshop
- A geometry lesson
- A lesson from Math-U-See’s AIM program
- Read-aloud or independent reading of The Golden Bull and Ramayana: Divine Loophole as a carryover from November’s Ancient India block.
The AIM lesson was where I was most involved. I have written previously about how my fifth grader has been struggling with math and how it seemed that the Waldorf approach had not been working for her. I realized she was missing some foundational pieces, so I am using AIM to get back to the basics and make sure she has her math and subtraction facts memorized. She understands advanced math concepts as I introduce them to her, but she was very slow because she didn’t have facts memorized, which was causing a lot of frustration. With AIM we are methodically working our way through the math and subtraction facts and I am AMAZED at how quickly she has memorized the facts that we have covered. So if anyone else out there has an older child struggling I highly recommend AIM. The program covers two years of Math-U-See’s curriculum in just a few months worth of lessons. When we complete the addition and subtraction program I plan to also do the new one for multiplication. (This is not an ad, by the way!)
So this month was a big success for us and it’s nice for me to know that we can revert back to this approach of quick, mostly independent, lessons whenever the need arises.
I almost forgot to add that my fifth grader participated in a German class offered through Outschool this month that was so wonderful. This was actually level two – she did level one with the same teacher back in spring. This has been a great opportunity for her to learn from a native German speaker and hear the cadence of the language. It was also nice at a time of such social isolation for her to see other kids – albeit through a screen – and chat with them in German! The class focused a lot on making introductions and at the end of the course my kiddo made a presentation “introducing” a famous German of her choice with a Google Slides presentation. She chose Angela Merkel and it was a really fun project for her.
I have never done first grade in December before. I like to give my kids the whole month off but that wasn’t practical this year, so we carried on with Lavender’s Blue’s second fairy tales and letters block. This month we read the The Fisherman and His Wife (one of our favorites!), Little Snow White, The Six Swans and The Nixie of the Mill Pond. We did form drawings and watercolor painting and circle time and had a lovely month of learning.
My seven-year-old is really enjoying his Explode the Code workbooks right now, so we did a few pages of those before most day’s lessons and didn’t do much with All About Reading this month.
I enjoy writing about homeschooling here but also want to share that homeschooling is life and sometimes life takes precedence over lessons and that’s OK! My seven-year-old has been struggling with belly pain for quite a while and this month it seemed to reach a place where it required much of my attention. We spent some time in the hospital this month for some diagnostic imaging and had several doctor’s appointments. We still don’t have answers as to what is going on, and I’ve been making dietary changes to see what helps. Making broth has been a part-time job for me, these days. There were times this month where we skipped days and condensed the curriculum to fit what we could do. It is far more important to me that my children feel happy and comfortable in body and mind than that they keep up with a curriculum or that they learn to read by a certain age.
I’m a big fan of not dropping everything when challenges arise, but adapting instead so we can maintain a rhythm that provides comfort and consistency, but not try to do so much that we stress everyone out.
We left our home on August 30th so we could remodel our home and have been changing locations every two or three weeks ever since. It’s been exhausting. In early December our general contractor and our trim guy both had exposures to COVID and had to quarantine at home for 14 days, evaporating our hopes of the remodel wrapping up before Christmas. We made an arrangement where we would be able to move back home for a two-week Christmas break and then leave again in the new year for them to finish the work. Being unsettled for so long has been really difficult, especially as we moved into winter which – for me – is a very introverted and homebody season. So it was a huge relief to return home for Christmas, even if it had to be a temporary visit.
In December I was …
- Reading: After casting about for quite a while finding a new book, I finally settled on The Huntress and am really enjoying it. I read the author’s last book – The Alice Network – last year and liked it a lot too. The Huntress is told from three different people’s perspectives and rotates between them each chapter, so that variety is really working for my stress-addled attention span.
- Watching: My husband and I have become obsessed with a BBC Masterpiece show called Endeavor that’s available on Prime. It’s a detective show that has some peril at the beginning but nothing particularly gruesome and by the end of the show everything is completely solved and tied up in a tidy little bow. It’s very satisfying given the uncertainty of the times we’re living in.
- Knitting: I didn’t have a knitting project this month! I really missed it and when I found a quiet moment I purchased the Reluctant Homeschooler pattern and ordered myself some pretty yarn (I chose Starry Night). I mean, with that pattern name, how could I not knit myself one?
- Cooking: I’ve been making a lot of soup lately. We also made some Christmas treats, like Danielle Walker’s fudge (in her Celebrations cookbook), cranberry breakfast cookies and our favorite gingerbread. I also made these chocolate zucchini muffins but swapped out the zucchini for shredded beats and they were divine. I actually might go make another batch of those right after I hit publish!
Back at the beginning of 2020 I chose a word to guide me and that word was CHERISH. I had no idea how hard this year would be to cherish, but the word really helped to guide me in focusing on our blessings more than our burdens. Writing this blog and taking some time every month to look back at our time spent learning together definitely helps me to cherish my life. Thanks for reading along this year. Wishing you all a wonderful 2021.