Celebrating Holidays Can Turn Into Educational Lessons

The following is a transcript of my conversation with BEX BUZZIE, the host of The Homeschool Advantage Podcast. Bex and I had the pleasure of meeting in September 2022 (over Zoom) and discussing the things that matter most… Using Celebration!

Top three takeaways 

  1. Celebration brings Memories. What better way to spend your children’s learning years creating life long memories.  
  2. Learning about holidays brings many educational moments in history.  
  3. Celebrations connect us all to each other.  

Listen to the Podcast, or read the transcript of our conversation.

NOTE: This is a transcript, so it may not be grammatically polished. It gives you the conversation between Bex and me as authentically as possible.

(BB)– Bex Buzzie (CG) – Christy Gandara

Using Celebration as Lessons

(BB)Welcome back to the Homeschool Advantage podcast. I’m your host, Bex Buzzy. Today’s guest is Christy Gandara, CEO, and founder of Happy Hive Homeschooling. She’s a former classroom teacher and a homeschool mom living in California with her husband and three almost-grown children she calls her bugs. She didn’t send her three bugs to school because she knew no one would be a better teacher than she is.

She also was terrified, but quite frankly, she did it anyway. Christy designed the Happy Hive homeschooling to make your homeschooling years the best they can be. Happy Hive provides courses, coaching, and a unique holiday of the day curriculum designed for any homeschool method. It is their goal to help you recognize the importance of your homeschool mindset and the overall education experience of your children.

Happy Hive uses an off the cuff curriculum versus textbooks. The best curriculum, the Happy Hive Homeschool ever used was the year they based, everything they did on the holiday of the day. It was an amazing year full of learning and memories, and this is what they want you to experience with your children too.

In this episode, we talk about how celebration brings memories, how learning about holidays brings many educational moments in history and how celebration connects us all. So go grab your coffee, go grab your tea and a pen and paper cuz you’re not gonna wanna miss what Christy has to say. Let’s get into the podcast,

Today we have Christy Gandara from Happy Hive Homeschooling. Christy, say hello to our guests and tell us what is something you think most people don’t know about homeschooling.

(CG) Hey Bex. Thanks so much for having me. So I think that most people don’t understand that not all homeschoolers are against public education.

Oftentimes I run across families in my work that have kids in both. Some kids are homeschooled and some go to public School.

(BB) That is huge information and I love that. That’s really cool. Cause it kind of gaps that bridge that a lot of people have, cuz the majority of the time you think, you know, homeschooling they’re just completely against um, you know, public education.

But there are some kids that do really well in public education, like that format does seem to work for them.

(CG) Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what it’s about, is making sure that you have a good match for your children and how they learn. So we call it, uh, the school at home method. That’s when you’re kind of mimicking what’s happening in a public school.

And, and that worked really well for a lot of families too, especially, uh, family who the, the parents weren’t homeschooled themselves. The school model’s kind of a comfort zone for them, at least in the very beginning.

(BB) Right. Let’s talk about what you do. So you’re a homeschool coach. You help homeschoolers, uh, assimilate into the homeschooling world.

(CG) Yes. I help them get comfortable and build their confidence. So I’m a homeschool mindset mentor, so we want to work on the way that our brain naturally kind of, um, it kind of attacks us in a way, but the brain’s designed to keep you safe, to keep you from making mistakes, you know, And that’s why we have doubt and fears and we think I’m not good enough.

All of that has to do with our mindset. So I give families tools specific to homeschooling and what they can do to overcome a lot of those doubts and fears that they have.

(BB) Wow, that must really be big time. I mean, like you probably find a lot of parents when they come to you that’s, that’s the biggest, um, issue.

That’s, that’s probably their biggest challenge. Like just feeling that they’re not worthy or they’re not qualified or their mindset is a little off on things and they’re just not actually able to take full advantage of the opportunity of what homeschooling really is.

So, yes. Let’s, let’s talk about your name, the Happy Hive Homeschooling.

I love it. And then you have Queen Bee in the back. There’s something to it. Talk to us about that.

(CG) There, there is. So, um, you know, I feel like a happy hive is a warm and friendly and fun place to be and I wanna help families have a happy hive of their own. So you have all your little worker bees buzzing around and, and the mom.

You know, the dad can be the queen bee, the one that’s just making sure everything’s going along.

(BB) So what inspired you like to create all of this? Do you have children that you homeschool?

(CG) I do. Um, well they’re in college now, so our homeschooling years are over. Just a little bit.

(BB) Yeah. , you’re like done.

(CG) Done.

Yeah. But, uh, I can’t seem to leave the environment. I, I love homeschooling and teaching so much.

So it was really my kids that, um, inspired me to do what I do. They wanted to leave the Christmas tree up one year. Uh, they didn’t wanna take it down, and I saw that their quest for celebration was one of the, the deepest ways for us to connect.

So I want other families to remember that our homeschooling time is limited. We think we have forever, but you don’t. So stop, stop what you’re doing and celebrate with your kids. Ordinary holidays, more off-the-cuff holidays, you know, things like that.

(BB) Like half birthdays.

(CG) Half birthdays are amazing.

(BB) Yes. . I celebrate my half birthday . It’s January 6th. It’s actually also called Three Kings Day. Yes. And yeah. So I’m like, Yay. , .

(CG) You can, uh, put out your shoes.

And get gifts or you know, if you find the baby in the three Kings cake, you’ve got lots to celebrate that day.

(BB) That’s so funny. Yeah. You know, each culture, like each country has a similarity as to how we all celebrate it, but we celebrate it slightly differently.

And you just mentioned two different ones. The one that I celebrate in Puerto Rico. So I’m half Puerto Rican and half Spanish. So in Spain, they take their shoe and they put it on the window sill and it’s crazy. And they put hay into the shoe for, you know, the camels to come through. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

And in Puerto Rico, we take a shoe box and we fill it with a hay. We have to go out, cut tall grass,and we put it in a shoe box and we put it under our bed.

(CG) You see the instant connection we had over a holiday? Yes. And how, how absolutely educational that is. How academic, our discussion just was about the different traditions and then you brought in the way it’s done in different countries. Yeah, that’s, that’s what brings me the most joy. Yeah. Is those little, almost little tangents that are inspired by the holidays.

(BB) Yeah. And I actually got really happy telling you about it cuz it made me just like, remember when I was a little girl, you know?

Cause we used to live in Puerto Rico. Oh. And I just, I remember that. It was so awesome how my mom used to do that. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. So your curriculum focuses around celebration?

(CG) It does. It does. All the curriculum that I design is based on the holiday of the day, so it might, Three Kings Day is kind of a popular holiday, but there’s little known holidays, you know, like talk like a pirate day.

Or there’s Oreo cookie day. There’s just tons more than I could even bring. We don’t have enough time to get into all of ’em. ,

(BB) darn. I gotta get the curriculum.

(CG) Yeah. It’s a, it’s a lot of fun. And, and when you’re struggling with homeschooling, my advice is to take a break. You, you need to put. I don’t wanna say put the academics away, but sometimes that’s kind of what I mean is put down what you’re doing, all the wonderful curriculum that you bought and let’s, let’s celebrate something.

You can celebrate once a month. You can celebrate once a week, or you can do what I did in my home and do it as a, That was my curriculum for a full year. That’s all we did was the holiday of day.

(BB) So let’s talk about that because that is probably something that you really change the dynamic of your household because being able to celebrate for a whole year how to do something for the dynamics of your family.

(CG) It did. It certainly. It certainly did. That is still what they talk about now, when they talk about homeschooling, they don’t . They don’t remember that formal history curriculum that we did for four years straight, right? They remember the holidays. Remember mom, when we did this, was that in the holiday year?

Remember mom, when we did? So the connections that we were able to build and the the memory making is, uh, out of this world.

(BB) That’s what I was thinking too, like those memories. My mom literally just passed away a couple of weeks ago and

(CG) I’m so, so sorry.

(BB) Uh, Thank you. I know where she’s at, so I’m good. You know, it’s like it.

But I do remember all those beautiful things that we did together and. One thing that you think about in that very last moment, and not to sound morbid, but I really wanna, I really, but I do wanna bring this home to all parents, is I thought in my mind, I wish I had more memories. I wish I made more of those.

So the last week I was with her, the only thing I kept thinking was, I really wish we would’ve went to Disney World. I really wish I would’ve brought her here. Like I really wish that I would’ve done more memorable things than anything else, like celebrated more with her, like things like that. And like, it’s actually taught me right now, as, as you know, post everything.

Like I, now I’m, I’m really celebrating people more. Like I really want to be in the moment and I want to. Just focus on the the great things on people. Right? And that’s been one of my biggest learning lessons. I feel like my mom passing is gonna be a journey, but as I’m listening to you and all the wonderful things you did, it’s like you gave your children a gift.

You’ve given them a gift, and you’ve also got that serendipity back as well as a mom and and dad like you. Built this beautiful, I guess, hive, you know where Yeah. And, and your kids are still remembering they’re in college and they’re still remembering this.

(CG) And it’s comforting. It’s comforting to me to, to be able to look back because just as you said, Bex we don’t have time it, we think we do and we don’t.

So we do need to take those opportunities and homeschooling provides us with the flexibility to do it our way. So by celebrating and making those memories, you, you absolutely can’t go wrong. You can’t do it wrong. And I know you have a lot of, even just parents in your audience. You don’t just drop your kids off at school and then forget about it and do nothing.

So you can incorporate the same type of celebration into your family life. So I did Oreo cookie day with my grown children. All of them had a taste test. You should see ’em smelling the cookies. It, it’s, it’s ageless, it’s timeless. Celebration is what brings us together as human. Even, you know, when your mom passed, what do we do? We have a celebration of life.

(BB) That’s exactly what we did.

(CG) That’s what we do. Yeah. That’s how we connect.

(BB) Yeah. Yeah. Actually on her, on her last day when she, The day the day she passed that morning, she actually was dancing with her shoulder. She was bedridden, but she knew she was ready to go and we played music and we actually celebrated and danced with her.

It was a gift for all of us, like my aunt, her sister, my uncle, me, my husband. It was an opportunity to celebrate. I, I’m getting a little emotional thinking about it because I’m thinking celebration is amazing and the opportunity to be able to start when they’re little and grow in this relationship.

That’s what homeschooling is all about, you know? And how beautiful that you’ve taken your experiences and created something so other families can do the same exact thing and they probably are able to even become creative through that. Right. Like,

(CG) Absolutely. Um, you know, they can launch off into tangents and, and rockets of their own desires, you know, just based on, on what they’re studying.

It’s very open. It’s not, I wanna say it’s not formal curriculum. I don’t wanna scare anyone away, but it’s not, it’s, it’s very grounded in just being together and having experiences. So you can do whatever you want with.

Did you guys create your own holiday by chance? Your own family holiday?

(CG) You know, there is a day that’s called Create your Own Holiday Day , and I can’t, I have so many dates rolling around in my head.

I’ll need to look that up. Maybe you can put, we can put that in the show notes for everyone. Yes. What day, Create your own holiday is, And I did not with my children because when I started there was no Pinterest. Oh, so I homeschooled way back in the early two thousands, so I came up with it all kind of on my own, and they have more and more and more holidays now.

NOTE: Create Your own Holiday Day – March 26th

Wow. But yeah, create your own holiday pl-ease. Can you imagine how kids will use their brain power to come up with everything, All the best of every holiday.

(BB) Yeah. And the critical thinkings. Cuz at that point and like the problem solving and the, the discovery mm-hmm. , I think we so undervalue that the spontaneous things, right.

The, the fun aspect we think we’re really, really programmed into thinking. Education is dry and it’s textbook and it’s sitting at a table, and only that, I mean, it can be part of it, but it’s not only that, you know what I mean? It’s probably everything together where that really makes such a beautiful amalgamation of like everything coming together.

(CG) Yes. Yes. There has to be balance. There has to be a mix.

(BB) Have you found kids with maybe like learning challenges or like sensory issues, they really kind of gravitate to what you do?

(CG) Well absolutely, because, uh, not to pat myself on the back, but it’s fun. Yeah.. So who, who doesn’t wanna have fun?

You can celebrate in a million different ways. So it’s easy to level these activities to the unique needs of a family that’s homeschooling multiple childrens across, across a certain age range. You know, you have a lot of kids. It’s easy to adapt the, the celebrations to kids who we have, what we call ’em special needs.

Uh, you know, I think they have super powers personally. So things like that for sure. Yeah, they gravitate.

(BB) I love that. So what would be like probably the most, What would be the one student that would benefit from your type of curriculum the most?

(CG) Everyone benefits, mom, Dad, there isn’t, You can’t, There’s not one type of student.

It’s universal. It’s, it’s universal.

(BB) So have you heard of any stories, like parents come back to you with some like, Thank you, you know, I’m sure you have

(CG) Yes, I have. I have in the many years that, um, I’ve worked in holidays celebrating When I was in a classroom, I did the same thing, but as far as my homeschooling goes, I have a mom who really stands out in my, my mind and what she thanked me for was confidence.

The way she phrased it was she borrowed my confidence when everyone was against her homeschooling. And even when she was having those brain talked with herself and she thought, I can’t do this. She was able to use the things that I was teaching her to empower herself. And then she took off like a rocket.

Wow. And she was able to nurture her, her three, her three children. . What I do is help you, help. You can borrow my confidence because I just think homeschooling is easy and fun. And so I’ll show you how to make it easy and fun, and then I don’t want you to stay in my program for life. It’s teach a man how to fish, then they can eat for the rest of their life.

I’m not gonna just keep handing you fish. I wanna teach you how to grow and bloom. Yourself.

(BB) Yeah. Talk to us a little bit more about your course and your program. Like how does it operate?

(CG) So the mindset portion of my program happens in two different ways. It can, I have an email only program where you just email me your questions and then I get back to you.

Sometimes moms are super busy and they don’t wanna do video or anything, and they just. They just want their question answered as quick as possible. So that’s, that’s the email program. Then I have face-to-face program over, um, I use, uh, Google Meet. They keep changing the name, but everyone understands when I say Google Meet.

So I use Google Meet and we coach for about 30 minutes. They come to me with kind of their issue. For example, saying, uh, I’m feeling really stuck this week. I, I really feel like little, little Junior is behind, you know? And so I’ll, I’ll run through the, the gamut with them about, you know, what’s causing those fears and some strategies they can use to overcome those fears.

I have a three month program and a six month program for the face to face coaching


(BB) That’s awesome. So as we’re wrapping it up, what’s the call to action? Where can they get your resources, connect with you and get part of this mentor and, and Awesome coaching program?

(CG) So it’s, it’s pretty easy to remember cuz I’m all about the happy hive and we are homeschooling, right?

So you can find me @happyhivehomeschooling.com and I have plenty of holiday resources to get you started. Full disclosure, there are not 365 of them yet, but you know, there’s much power in yet. And my homeschool consulting is also available. You can check everything out for yourself. And I offer a free discovery call so we get a 30 minute call totally free just to get to know one another, to kind of feel the waters, see if it’s too hot or too cold so you can book a discovery call there on the website.

(BB) That’s fantastic. Cause I know a lot of, I mean, even me as a person, I would always feel comfortable being able to like talk. That’s why I even have, Yeah, that’s why I even have preliminary calls before anyone comes on my interviews. Like, I have to like talk to you for at least 15 minutes before I could even go on an interview.

But yeah, that, that, I, I think that’s just to build that connection with the parents is such a huge thing. And to teach them what it looks like, especially those who are brand new, but it looks like to connect. Yes. Yeah. That’s awesome. So tell me, what is one thing you want parents to take away from our conversation?

(CG) Plan. Plan for fun things. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed. Put it in there on purpose.

(BB) I love that plan. For fun things be intentional. Mm-hmm. , oh my gosh. I love that. Christy, thank you so much for coming on the show today and just sharing your wisdom, sharing your testimony, sharing just all of your experiences and some behind the scenes of your life, sharing your life with us.

Thank you so much for coming on today. It’s been a pleasure.

(CG) Oh, it was a pleasure. Thanks, Bex. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you and inspiring you to add some celebration into your life with your family. Oh, yeah. You know it.

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Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling to learn ways of using celebration

For more tips on using the Holiday of the Day in your homeschool, please check out THIS POST: Incorporating Holiday of the Day into your Curriculum.

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