Making gifts is a part of family life and yet as homeschooling families we often worry about “being behind” and not doing enough “schoool”. When we see our family life as giving us real and beneficial educational experiences this stress begins to recede.

Making presents is something that we do all year long. When our kids were younger I would try and set a couple of days aside for gift making for each family member’s birthday. This of course, has to happen a good week or two before the big day.  When it comes to Christmas we would put down our books early November and use our days to make gifts for others.

I am constantly amazed at the creativity of the children should they but be given some time and a little stimulation. We often talk over ideas before they make a decision. We then have to find instructions, patterns etc – or design their idea themselves. We then have to shop for any materials. This means either digging into the back of the cupboard or going into town, or even shopping online. Then comes the creative part.

I have always found it helpful to look at the skills my kids are learning or fine tuning in any given activity with the standards of education-speak in the back of my mind.  Education-speak is simply the language that schools use.  Though I don’t want to compare myself against schools (homeschooling and institutional school are two completely different systems so unfair to compare) but by taking some of the language we are familar with we start to see the value in the family lifestyle activities.

So the skills required for making a gift – regardless of what gift it is goes something like this:

  • First of all a relational skill – caring for their sibling, and knowing their needs
  • Decision making (Intrapersonal Skills)
  • Design / following patterns (Math / Thinking Skills / Creative)
  • Shopping for materials (Consumer skills / Responsibilities Skills / Technology)
  • Completing the project (Perseverance / Character skill / Creative skills)
  • Wrapping the present and writing in a card (Writing skill / Creative)

In Education Speak (the language of the school systems) these areas cover Art, Language Arts, Technology, Enterprise, Math. In our family we go through this process at least 5 times for our immediate family, then again for Christmas and then the occasional friend’s birthday as well. So over the year the children are working on approximately 10 Art, Math and Technology projects! That is a good education.

So I encourage you when Christmas or birthday’s and other gift giving opportunities come along, don’t squeeze it into a full “school” day, but rather see the learning opportunities that exist and make time for your children to enjoy this family opportunity to the full!

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