Advent and Christmas are ripe with the promise of a living faith that excites and educates our children in their Catholic roots.
Unfortunately, Advent frequently becomes a time of tension and stress as the to-do list wields its mighty fist and robs the season of peace and meaning. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Change your perspective and view Advent as a season to educate your children in a completely different way. You still can and should “do school” most days, but allow room for the season to do some of its own educating.
Here is a list of nine ways you can let the season school for you.
1. Listen to Christmas Music
Music appreciation is often overlooked in the busyness of everyday homeschooling.
During Advent, immerse yourself in music written for the sole purpose of praising God. A great place to start is the classic Messiah, written by Handel. Your family will learn scripture as well as develop an appreciation of classical music.
If one is available, attend a live performance.
2. Learn Advent Hymns
Don’t just listen! Learn to sing an Advent hymn together. Particularly appropriate during this time of year is the ancient “O Come Emmanuel.”
Feeling adventurous? Learn verses in both Latin and English.
Going to Vespers, where the O Antiphons are sung from December 17th-23rd, is a meaningful way to incorporate liturgical practices while reinforcing your hymn study.
Learning the story behind famous songs, hymns, and Christmas-inspired classical works is easy with many books on the subject available on the market. Reading these will bring a deeper understanding of the music to your children.
3. Study Famous Christmas-Themed Works of Art
Art class is as simple as learning about the images received on your yearly Christmas cards.
When you receive a Christmas card featuring a work of art, take time to learn the name of the piece as well as the artist. After studying the pieces, see who in your family can name the most.
Frame your favorite Christmas card to make a beautiful decoration! Take time to discuss what the Nativity was really like in comparison to the idyllic scene often portrayed.
4. Read Christmas Literature
Taking time to snuggle on the couch and sift through a book basket filled with beautifully illustrated Christmas stories can bring peace to any busy mother’s heart.
Are your children older? Read the iconic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
5. Craft Homemade Gifts
Ditch the art history book for a few weeks and take some time to browse the internet for Christmas crafts your children can make based on their abilities.
A child-made ornament would be a treasure on any grandparent’s tree.
Staple pieces of paper together, making a book for older children to write, illustrate, and gift to younger siblings.
Your family is a gift that you can share with others who are often forgotten. Carol, visit, or deliver Christmas goodies to nursing home residents and shut-ins.
Not only will your children bring warmth to their hearts, but you will gain valuable perspective on the season.
7. Open the Doors of Your Home
We can all be the hands of Christ simply by opening our home to others.
While it is good to keep an open door policy all year round, the holidays are a particularly appropriate time to welcome others into our homes.
Take advantage of the opportunity to train children in good manners, etiquette, and food preparation.
Round up some other families and put on a Nativity play. Perform at a nursing home, church, or in your own home.
It is a unique opportunity for your children to speak publicly and work on memorization.
9. Live the Faith
Relax and let the beauty of the liturgical rhythm evangelize and educate your children.
There are many meaningful devotions (the Jesse Tree, O Antiphons, St. Andrew Novena, etc.) and feast days (St. Nicholas, St. Lucy, The Immaculate Conception, etc.) to fill your dreary December days.
Focus on one or two to keep things simple. Above all, allow yourself lots of grace, rest, prayer, and fun during this season. The orientation and state of a mother’s heart dictates the atmosphere of the home.
Living a peaceful and meaningful Advent season as a family will create happy memories for years to come.
What are your favorite ways to live and learn during this busy time?