Making the Most of School Holidays – Our Montessori Homeschooling Family’s Approach

The school holidays – a time of relaxation, rejuvenation, and endless possibilities for adventure. As we navigate the school holidays in our Montessori homeschooling home, we prioritize a balance between rest, exploration, and intentional activities that foster a sense of freedom and creativity. From spontaneous art projects to outdoor adventures, we make the most of these breaks by embracing the natural rhythms of our children’s interests and energies.

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As a Montessori homeschooling family, we’ve learned to approach school holidays in a way that’s both relaxing and intentional. We prioritize creating a sense of calm, freedom, and joy in our home, while also making sure our children have a chance to recharge and refuel for the next term.

As a homeschooling family, we’ve experience the immense joy and rewards that come with educating our children at home. However, we’ve also face the harsh reality that homeschooling can be an incredibly tolling endeavor. The long hours, the constant necessity to plan and guide, the sacrifice of personal time and space – it can be overwhelming at times. But as we navigate these challenges, we discover what helps us find balance. Hence I feel inclined to share our family experiences and strategies. By sharing our approach, I hope to encourage other families to find a rhythm that works for them too.

Here is how we make the most of these breaks and a glimpse into our daily routine.

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Setting the Tone: Respectful Relationships

Before the holidays begin, we take some time to revisit what respectful and mindful relationships look like, sound like, and feel like in our home. We remind our children that when disagreements arise, they can always use their “special object” – a soft toy or icon that helps them communicate effectively. This simple yet powerful tool encourages them to:

  • Take turns expressing their frustrations in a polite way
  • We encourage them to make eye contact with each other
  • Not raise their voices
  • Collaborate to find solutions

We also review our family’s rules for resolving conflicts:

  • Only one person is allowed to talk when holding the object
  • They take turns coming up with ideas to share their solutions

Planning Ahead

Next, we create a checklist of family outings and available school holiday events. These might include visits to grandparents, events at our local church, zoo trips, movie nights, or sleepovers. We involve our children in the planning process, asking them what they’re interested in doing and making sure everyone gets a say.

Why Daily Flow and Executive Functioning Skills Matter

As a Montessori minded homeschooling family, we believe that creating a daily flow that fosters the development of executive functioning skills in children is crucial for their overall growth and development. Executive functioning skills refer to the mental processes that help us plan, organize, and regulate our behavior.

What are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive functioning skills include:

  • Planning and organization
  • Time management
  • Self-regulation (e.g., impulse control, emotional regulation)
  • Problem-solving
  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)

Why are Executive Functioning Skills Important?

Executive functioning skills are essential for children to become independent, self-reliant, and successful individuals. They help children:

  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Manage their time effectively
  • Regulate their emotions and behaviors
  • Set goals and prioritize tasks
  • Work independently and collaboratively

Why We Don’t Overplan

We don’t overplan our children’s days because we believe that too much structure can stifle creativity and independence. By giving them space to make choices and come up with their own solutions, we’re allowing them to develop their problem-solving skills and build confidence in their abilities.

Why Being Bored is Good for Them

Being bored is a natural part of the learning process! When children are given the freedom to explore and discover on their own, they’re more likely to develop a love for learning and a sense of ownership over their day. We remind our children that being bored is not a bad thing, but rather an opportunity to think creatively and come up with solutions to overcome boredom.

Why They Need to Come Up with Solutions Themselves

When our children are bored, we encourage them to come up with their own solutions rather than jumping in to fix the problem for them. This helps them develop critical thinking skills, build resilience, and learn to take ownership of their actions.

By creating a daily flow that fosters executive functioning skills, we’re setting our children up for success in all areas of life. We’re teaching them how to navigate challenges, work independently, and develop a growth mindset. And by embracing boredom as a natural part of the learning process, we’re giving them the space to grow and thrive.

Morning Work

To start the day in a productive day, we introduce the concept of “morning work“. Each child has two tasks to complete around the house before they can continue with their day. These tasks are designed to benefit everyone in the household and help our children develop a sense of responsibility. They include:

Keeping their belongings tidy and organized
Ensuring their workspace is ready for the day
Brushing their teeth
Completing any other tasks that need attention
By completing these tasks, our children learn important life skills and develop a sense of independence.

After Meal Routine

After mealtime, we revisit what needs to be done after eating. Our children learn how to:

Wash their dishes
Clean up after themselves
Put away any toys or items that were used during mealtime
These simple habits help maintain a clean and organized home and teach our children important responsibility skills.

Game On!

We also reintroduce our children to all the card and board games we have available. We make sure they know the rules and are encouraged to play together.

A game of settlers of catan in progress on a table with cards, game pieces, and a hexagonal board.

Screen Time

In today’s digital age, it’s easy for screens to consume our lives. That’s why we’ve implemented a screen time limit of 1 hour per day for our children. This allows them to enjoy their favorite apps, games, and shows while also promoting healthy habits and reducing the risk of addiction.

We also ensure that our children only have access to pre-chosen apps and websites that are educational and enriching. Additionally, we always supervise internet and Youtube searches and encourage our children to ask us questions or seek guidance when needed.

Self-Care and Responsibility

To help our children develop a sense of independence and responsibility, we encourage them to cook their own breakfast, snacks, and lunches. We ask them to plan ahead, making sure they have all the necessary ingredients when they need them.

Arts and Crafts

To keep creativity flowing, we ensure that paints, pencils, and paper are readily available for whenever inspiration strikes.

A watercolor paint set and a glass containing a green plant beside an open insect encyclopedia.

Outdoors

Homeschooling families utilize public spaces like beaches, parks, and libraries during school term periods off-peak hours when they’re less crowded. This allows for a more peaceful and focused learning environment, which is perfect for our educational goals.

We tend to visit lesser-known outdoor areas during school holidays. National parks and forest trails can be just as educational and enjoyable, but often with fewer crowds and more seclusion. We aim to make the most of these hidden gems.

A child playing on log stumps in a wooded area.

Giving Back

We take advantage of school holidays to volunteer with local organizations that accept family help. This not only teaches our children about the importance of giving back but also provides an opportunity for quality time together as a family.

A young child with a pink flower hair accessory sits on grass surrounded by three playful puppies.

Family Time

Finally, we end each day with a special family time – reading together as a family! We choose a book that’s fun for everyone and take turns reading aloud. We also take time to share about our favorite parts of the day and pray together for each other and for our friends.

By following these simple yet intentional steps, we’re able to create a mostly stress-free and enjoyable atmosphere in our Montessori homeschooling home during school holidays.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.