I have these three homeschooling kids so I thought I would ask them: if there were a Homeschool Christmas, what would be on their wish list? That went over like a lead balloon. So, I rewarded them in advance with ice cream (a.k.a. bribed) and garnered the following. “A” is a first-grader. The concept is a little abstract so I should have explained the game a little better.
“Can I say Legos?”
“No. Think about things that would make homeschool more fun.”
“Can I say new crayons?”
“You just did so yes you can.”
“Crayons, pencils, markers, and stickers.”
“Like stickers to put on your work?”
“Ok, anything else?”
“A big fluffy chair. And more ice cream.”
“Thank you, A. I think I’ve got what I need.”
“B” is a sixth-grader. He didn’t want to play the game at all, but since he was enjoying my ice cream with his pet leopard gecko perched on his shoulder, I threw him a softball chest high.
“What have you been learning about in science lately?”
“I don’t know, but earlier I was reading about how leopard geckos live in India.”
“So, you’re saying a good homeschool Christmas gift would be a chance to learn more about animals like getting tickets to the zoo?”
“Sure. Can I have more ice cream?”
“No and don’t you think you should play with your gecko when you’re not eating?”
“Ok, buddy, didn’t you recently get a Kiwi Crate? Would a subscription to something like that be a good homeschool Christmas gift? We’re trying to think of things that would make homeschool more fun or comfortable or maybe interesting. Kind of like asking for things for Christmas. Get it?”
“Ya, that would be cool, but not like for a real gift.”
“Thank you, B. That should do it.”
“C” is a freshman in high school and yes we do have the A, B, Cs at our house, but it’s not as easy as 1, 2, 3 or do, re, mi. However, in our eldest and only daughter I had finally found understanding.
“I get it. It’s just kind of dumb. Plus, aren’t you the writer? Why do I have to give you ideas?”
“I thought it would be fun.”
“OK. I’ll play. I would like some books about some of things I’ve been learning about in history, but not textbooks because they spend like a paragraph on a hundred years. I’d like to read some historical fiction about the same time period or even a good autobiography. I’d probably enjoy that way more than my textbook. Did I tell you we’re already on the Civil War? How do you get from the discovery of the Americas to the Civil war in two months?!”
“That’s fantastic. Thank you. That’s the best idea I’ve heard since crayons. What else?”
“Well, I like coffee and tea and candles and like, fluffy socks and stuff because I like to be cozy and enjoy the comforts of home when I’m homeschooling.”
“You’re making my day.”
“And could I get some ear buds to drown out those two baboons who live with us?”
“You know this is just for an article, right? There’s not really a homeschool Christmas.”
In my head, it went better but I did get some decent ideas not so much for things to put under the tree, but about what my kids value about their homeschooling experience. They like not having so many constraints like being able to use a box of crayons to complete an assignment instead of lead. They like that sometimes they can go find the most comfortable spot in the house to complete their work. They like taking a deeper dive with field trips or supplemental materials. I heard that sometimes they like school and I’ve got some thoughts about how to reinforce those aspects they appreciate.
You might have a better conversation starter than I did but talking with your kids about what they like and even what is missing from your homeschool might be…educational.
Nathan Manley is a certified teacher and coach with a masters degree in education. He has taught multiple subjects, every age group and from Jamaica to California. Between his three children, his family has experience with public school, private school, charter schools, hybrid programs and full time homeschool. He believes music and film produced after 1989 is “meh.”