How to Homeschool Through a Winter SlumpLeah Courtney
In August, I’m always excited about a new year of homeschooling. New curricula are sitting in boxes or on shelves. There are books that smell new and hold the promise of fun and learning. We have a fresh, new schedule with exciting things planned. The kids have picked out brand new notebooks and pencils and pens to start off a new school year. August holds the promise of a good school year to come.
The excitement usually lasts about a month or so. After two months, our new supplies aren’t so new anymore. The pencils are broken; the notebooks are written in. Our school books aren’t new anymore. We’ve had time to find things we didn’t like about the new curriculum. Kids are complaining. (Maybe I’m complaining.)
Our schedule isn’t so great anymore, either. In fact, we’re probably running around like crazy people and always feeling behind. On top of that, our local winters are cold and rainy. So there’s no sun or outdoor activities to break up the monotony of our routine. As we head into winter, I often find myself in a winter slump.
I know that if we can hang on until spring, things will be good again. We’ll have sunshine and outdoor fun and the promise of picking out next year’s books and attending a homeschool convention. So how can we survive the winter slump? Here is what works for me.
Adjust the Schedule
Many times our slump comes about because we are too busy and overwhelmed. When we are constantly on the go, we are more likely to have poor eating and sleep habits. This can lead to physical exhaustion and a mental slump. When I start to slip into the winter slump or notice that the family is headed that way, it’s time to take a look at the schedule. Are we doing too many things? Is there anything we could or should cut out? It isn’t always easy to make those choices, but it can do much to improve our physical and mental outlook.
Limit Screen Time
There is a direct correlation between the yuckiness of the weather and the amount of time we all spend in front of a screen. When winter creeps in with rain and cold, the kids naturally drift to a screen as soon as school work is done. I can be guilty of the same thing.
But mind-numbing screen time actually seems to contribute to our feelings of a winter slump.
And so I make a conscious effort to direct the kids and myself to activities that don’t involve a screen. Playing a board game, working a puzzle, reading a book, creating a craft are fun activities that don’t involve a screen and pull us out of our funk.
Read Aloud a Good Book
It’s amazing how reading and listening to a good book can change our outlook. There are days when I just don’t even feel like doing school, but when I read a great book to the kids, our attitudes begin to change. Having a fresh chapter to read gives us something to look forward to each day. It is fun that doesn’t involve a screen. And when I choose good books to read out loud, we’re learning without even officially doing school.
Do a Hands-On Learning Activity
I have to admit that I’m not always the creative, crafty homeschool mom. I don’t whip up fun science experiments and hands-on projects easily. But I have found that finding a hands-on way to learn is a great way to break out of the same old routine when we’re in a slump. And it doesn’t have to be a big, elaborate project. We’ve had fun cooking a meal from a country or time period we’re learning about, doing a science experiment, creating our own play to act out something we learned about, making a lapbook for a book we’re reading, or doing an art project from a culture we’ve studied. What we do doesn’t seem to be as important as the fact that we’re changing things and having fun together.
With a few changes to the routine, we can make it through the winter slump. And, before I know it, spring will come…and I can start planning for next school year!