Need a Lift? Tips to Beat the Winter Blahs
The dark, damp days of winter often bring depression; or at least, boredom. As the temperature plummets, so do attitudes… and the kids have a difficult time, too.
Time to liven up your days a bit!
Here are are several strategies to help you beat the winter blahs and inject some energy to your homeschooling:
1. Spend time with others
Beat cabin fever by resisting the urge to stay inside during these dreary days. Get a group together and go to an inside skating rink or bowling alley, or even better, take a field trip. Have your students ever been behind the scenes at:
- the post office?
- your favorite grocery store?
- a bakery?
- a local manufacturing plant?
- a dairy farm?
- a local museum?
- a fire station?
Arrange a tour with your support group or a few other homeschooling families, then have a bag lunch or play time afterwards. If the weather doesn’t permit playing outdoors, perhaps a gym in a local church or recreation center would allow some indoor playtime during the morning or early afternoon hours when they are usually empty.
After reading #3, grab a few other families, get together and plan a winter event or holiday. It could even become an annual event!
2. Evaluate and plan for next year
Often we resist the urge to think ahead in favor of just plugging along, nose to the grindstone, trying to get this year’s school work finished, but this is actually an excellent time to evaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it, as well as to identify specific areas needing attention next year for each of your children.
- Considering each child at a time, ask yourself, what progress has s/he made this year spiritually, academically, etc.? Are there new interests developing that should be explored next year? How does s/he learn best? Do we need plan to focus more on improving writing, arithmetic skills, working more independently or strengthening character in certain areas? What habits would we like to be instilling in this child?
- How will your family change next year? Will you have more or fewer children to teach? Children spread out between kindergarten and high school for the first time? Do you need to prepare to teach middle school or high school? Consider your method of teaching and curricula you are using (or not using, if you are more of an unschooler). Is it working for you now? Will it continue working for you? Is it working for your children? Are they engaged, learning, enjoying what they are doing for the most part? (Or are they bored, unchallenged, unmotivated or loosing interest?) Put your thoughts in writing.
- Are there new areas you would like to build into your homeschooling, such as family devotions, nature study (plan a spring garden!), lap-booking, notebooking, journaling, hymn study, picture study, or music lessons? Make notes about what you would like to add into your school day.
3. Change things up – unexpectedly
Are you having difficulty just wading through the three R’s, let alone getting in any fun stuff? Amazingly, with something to look forward to, the non-negotiable stuff goes much faster. Often livening things up can be as simple as assigning each Friday in February or March as a pajama day, build-a-tent-out-of-the-furniture-and-read-in-it day, make an edible map* day, or get together with others for lunch day (see #1). *Be looking for a peanut butter edible map recipe to be posted soon for this. Yum.
After spending time evaluating in #2, did you identify some new areas you would like to include in your studies next year? Why don’t you consider starting one or more of them now, perhaps on a smaller scale, so you can see how it works and be better prepared to start in earnest in the Fall? Here are some how-to posts that might help:
As a family or with a few other families (see #1), research and cook a meal or plan an event that pertains to your history, geography or religious studies. How about:
- African or Egyptian night, researching and cooking traditional foods from the culture or period you are studying and eating them like they were eaten in the past or today (especially if no utensils were used – always popular).
- an Olympic Games Day, complete with costumes and patterned after the Olympics of Ancient Greece. (But you might draw the line at the way athletes competed in Ancient Greece – without clothes. Brrr.)
- In March, celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. Read the book of Esther and yell Boo! at any mention of Haman and cheer with abandon when Mordecai is mentioned. You may also plan a feast, give to the poor and eat Hamantaschen or Haman’s Ears!
- Have a Renaissance Fair. Create appropriate costumes, research music, games, food and more that might have been appropriate for that event. Make sure to take pictures!
Choose a secular holiday, research it, and celebrate it as a family or with others. This could be holiday on the calendar, such as these celebrated here in the U.S.:
- Black History Month (the month of February)
- American Heart Month (also, February)
- Valentines Day (Feb. 14th) See some across-the-curricula ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in your or with other families.
- President’s Day (Feb. 20th)
Or, it could be a wacky holiday that you make up, or that someone else has made up, such as:
- Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17th)
- National Pistachio Day (Feb. 26th)
- Johnny Appleseed Day (Mar. 11th)
Maybe each of your children should have the option of making up his or her own holiday this month and (of course) writing down why s/he chose the holiday and how it should be celebrated!
May patience, flexibility and creativity help you not just ‘get through’ the winter, but enjoy every day of it. And remember – time moves quickly – spring will be here before you know it.
What ideas do you have to make the days more enjoyable in the winter? We would love to hear them!