Holiday Activities that Count as Homeschooling

Last week, Danielle shared insightful glimpses into the unique approaches of three families navigating the homeschooling journey during the holidays. One family embraced the festive spirit by setting aside formal schoolwork altogether, immersing themselves in holiday learning. Another family opted for a balanced approach, maintaining a lighter version of their usual school workload while integrating holiday activities. Lastly, one family stuck closely to their regular homeschooling schedules, perhaps swapping out a regular activity or two for a holiday one. There are as many diverse strategies to homeschooling during the holidays as there are homeschoolers!

If yours is a family that wants to include holiday experiences as replacement for some or all of your homeschooling this season, here are some ideas you may certainly “count” as real school. Of course, learning from real life experiences enriches our lives in many ways, ways we may not even immediately recognize, but it sometimes makes us moms feel better when we translate real life learning into educationese.

Attending a Holiday Parade

We love to attend our hometown’s little Christmas parade! A parade can count as:

  • Social Studies:
    • Parades serve as living displays of history and civic pride.
  • Community Engagement:
    • Provide a community activity fostering a sense of belonging and an opportunity to connect with the local community.
  • Observational Skills:
    • Encourage the development of observational skills by identifying different elements in the parade.
  • Physical Education:
    • Involve physical activity depending on the parade route, promoting walking, standing, or dancing.

Baking Pies or Holiday Cookies:

We usually make at least one apple pie and a few batches of cookies over the holidays, and sometimes yummy cinnamon raisin bread. Getting together with friends to decorate cookies or a gingerbread house is a blast! What subjects are covered with baking?

  • Mathematics:

Involve children in measuring ingredients and adjusting recipes.

  • Science:

Discuss the science behind culinary creations.

  • Artistic Expression and Fine Motor Skills:

Nurture artistic skills and promote fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and patience.

Before we moved states, we had a wonderful tradition of getting together with friends to decorate gingerbread houses. We learned and practiced social skills like cooperation, sharing, encouraging each other, celebrations, and group clean up.


My husband thinks he’s Santa and enlists his elf helpers each year in decking the halls with gaudy decor. If you can involve your kids in decorating the house or even just the tree, you can count this as:

  • Mathematics:

Calculate proportions, measure spaces, and strategize placement. Your kids can even tell people they are doing Geometry.

Reading Books about Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa:

We love to read stories about when Jesus was born, about Hanukkah, and about St. Nicolaus. We keep several holiday books with our holiday decorations and get these out for just the season.

  • Language Arts

Improve literacy skills by enhancing reading comprehension, vocabulary, and language proficiency.

  • Global and Historical Understanding

Gain insights into traditions, customs, and the historical context of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebrations, promoting cultural and religious understanding.

Contribute to historical and religious literacy by learning about the origins and evolution of Christmas over time.

Learn about other cultures by studying Christmas around the world.

  • Personal Growth 

Encourage personal reflection and introspection, allowing children to contemplate their values and feelings about the holiday season.

Attend a Holiday Production (or Two):

I love attending plays or productions any time that I can. They are so expensive that we do not go as often as we wish! Sometimes you’ll find church Christmas plays or choir productions for free this time of year. Some years you might splurge for The Nutcracker or The Christmas Carol.

  • Cultural and Artistic Appreciation

Enhance cultural understanding through live performances and artistic expressions. Provide an opportunity for storytelling, music appreciation, and exposure to the performing arts.

Community Service and Volunteering:

What kind of community service might you be able to do? Maybe contributing to your church’s toy drive, or collecting food for a food pantry? Or just volunteering to help out at a local event? Perhaps just cleaning out your closets and passing on clothing and toys to your local second-hand store?

  • Social Science

Foster a sense of social responsibility and empathy.

  • Leadership Skills

Develop organizational and teamwork skills.

Gratitude Journals:

Did you, like me, only get to your gratitude list-making about half as much as you wanted to in November? Keep it going! You can count journaling time as: 

  • Language Arts

Encourage the practice of gratitude through journaling while enhancing writing skills.

  • Social and Emotional Skills

Promote emotional intelligence and mindfulness through slowing down and appreciating what we already have. Send a letter of thankfulness to someone else to build closer relationships.

Visiting Holiday Displays or Light Shows:

  • Art Appreciation

Promote awareness of artistic and aesthetic elements.

  • IT Exposure

Offer opportunities to discuss the use of technology.

As you can see, the myriad of activities we participate in during the busy holiday season absolutely “count” as learning. If you want to take off a bit of time from your regular homeschooling schedule, do so without any guilt. Happy holidays!