Seriously, though; getting back into the routine of school after a three week Christmas break was horrible. How's that for honesty? My kids acted like they had never seen a math problem, never learned to read, and never been expected to keep up with those silly little things called pencils. I'll be honest, ya'll - it was bad. B-A-D. But we made it through. We found all the renegade books and pencils, started getting up on time again, and they eventually remembered what we had learned prior to the holidays. (Well, mostly.) Anyway - this time of the year is always hardest for me. We're too far from the finish line to see the end, yet also too far from the starting line to remember the zeal of a new year. All the major holidays have passed, it seems like the sun sets at 3pm, and we're all trapped inside. Together. All day, every day. Our next best hope is Easter. So over our ten years of homeschooling, I've developed a few strategies to help cope with those winter blues. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Change of location. Sometimes a change of scenery is enough to help break through the funk. We might go to Grandma's for the day and do our school work there. When they were younger, I'd go to Chick-Fil-A, buy lots of coffee, and then alternate working one-on-one while the others played in the play area. For older kids, your local library might be an ideal location. We have a fabulous library with lots of large windows, desks, couches, and - behold - books! How about working at their friend's house as a special treat? Even getting together for a one-hour lunch break goes a long way!
2. Half days. Hey - if public schools can go half the day and count it, I figure we can, too. But here's the deal: it has to be the exception, not the rule. I might take advantage of this three to four times a year. When we do take a half day that means doubling up the next day (or later that week) to catch up.
3. Field trips. It's easy to move away from these as your children get older, but they are often the best way to spark a new interest or provide engaging, hands-on learning. We try to save our visits to indoor places for this season, particularity museums. We are within an hour's drive of our state's history museum, science museum, and art museum. (and admission is free!) It's funny how your students can suddenly tolerate the art museum if it means they are off the hook for "school work" that day!
4. Snow days. Don't judge me for this, but we do NOT take snow days! I know, I know... I'm so mean. But if you do, more power to you! I do, however, let my kids play in the snow first thing in the morning, and then again after our school work is done. They are now old enough to understand that it's far better to take a "spring day" off when we can spend the WHOLE day outside. It's even better than a snow day because after being stuck inside all winter long, we are ready to be free! We try not to snicker at the poor kids locked inside the school building, making up those snow days, as we drive by.
5. Grin and bear it. Yup. Some days you just have to put on your big girl pants and do it. This isn't a tip so much as it is reality, but sometimes I just have to tell myself to suck it up and deal with it. I throw in an extra cup of coffee to help soften the blow, or maybe even a bit of chocolate if I'm lucky! ;)
Have you discovered something that helps get you through the winter slump? I'd love to hear your ideas! I want us to share in conversation and encouragement, so we can help each other along this journey of home education!