Hazel Davis and her fella are home-educating their kids. This week, she’s talking the Christmas break. Hang on, what Christmas break?
I’ve known for some time that having a break as a freelancer is as impossible as getting Lorelai Gilmore off the phone (yeah I watched Gilmore Girls A LOT this Christmas).
You never switch off, you’re always feeling guilty about work you could be doing and half of you is always on the lookout for opportunities, even if the other half of you is lying in a hammock reading a Ruth Rendell. Well, if you’re me anyway. This Christmas I realised that this also applies if you’re a home-edder. Well, if you’re me anyway.
I’ve written before about how year-round education means you can cut yourself a bit of slack every day. But what that also means is that the finite breaks others have for the summer or Christmas holidays are never that. When normal children waved goodbye to their teachers the week before Christmas, mine carried on as usual.
There was no downing of tools or closing of books. We just sort of carried on, albeit with more glitter around than usual.
The oldest even had a violin lesson the morning* before Christmas Eve (which I totally count as education, by the way – and not just because she probably learns more in that half hour with her violin teacher than she does all week with us.
So on that Friday while many (not all, I know, I know) of our friends were winding down either by playing games at work or sitting on their arses at home, I was running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get deadlines met and ducks in rows before Christmas at the same time as making sure the children did the allotted amount of reading that morning.
“I caught myself feeling actual guilt if I didn’t milk a situation for an educational outcome. Even on Christmas Day, there was work to be done.”
Other children were allowed to watch films (OK, to be fair we did do a lot of that) and eat sweets (never that!) and run riot on account of being at home. It was business as usual for ours.
“Why don’t you write a story based on the plot of Get Santa?”
“Imagine what Buddy from Elf would do in this situation…”
“How do you think you spell The Nightmare Before Christmas?”
There was no let-up. There were Christmas cards and labels to write, cake mixture to be measured out. Poor little blighters. We even made them watch the George C Scott A Christmas Carol when everyone had gone home on Christmas Eve, just to make them see how life could have turned out. “If only Tiny Tim had learned his times tables better, perhaps fate would have spared him.”
I caught myself feeling actual guilt if I didn’t milk a situation for an educational outcome. Even on Christmas Day, there was work to be done. I’d procured some excellent crackers with bells in and each bell had a different note. So of course we made the five-year-old be the conductor and sort the numbers all out.
Then we made her play the violin at us, and then we made them read all the Christmas cards to prove to assorted friends and family that we weren’t locking them in the garden and making them do chores instead of educating them. Then their clever cousins came from Grimsby and we did the whole thing again. With even bigger instruments. God, we sound pretty tiresome written down.
We didn’t really have a plan of what we’d ‘do’ over Christmas or how we’d get back into the swing in the new year. But it worked out just fine in the end. Because we never really stopped, because learning never really stops.
*Number one top perk of home-edding. You get to do activities during the day that other children might be too tired/cranky to do in the evenings. It’s completely awesome.
Check out all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.
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Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".