Getting through the space between winter holiday breaks and spring is not for the faint of heart. One year we barely recovered from spring break. It took all of the fortitude I could muster to get us back into doing school again. I dragged my students reluctantly into May, resolved never again to take a spring break from homeschooling.
The truth is—the break was not the problem. Lack of enthusiasm and sustained vision was our trouble. I regrouped, made some observations, and then tweaked our post-holiday schooling.
Have you had a winter season like that? Dragging along, kicking and screaming through the winter thaw, just hoping for spring? And then when spring hits, you just want to end the year immediately? Try one of these ideas to sail through winter and keep going past spring break into your well-deserved summer break.
1. Incorporate Board Games All Winter and Spring
Kids love board games and card games. As adults, we seldom make time to play them.
Winter means a lot more time inside for those of us who live in the Midwest. Dark nights and cool temperatures can lead to long boring evenings and the siren's call of the big blue screen. To keep screen time at a minimum, I purchase a new games and let them pop up every few weeks through the dark winter months and early spring.
With a supply of games at different learning levels, there is always something new to play on a night that seems too long or a lackluster homeschool day. Most games teach something even if it's simply following instructions and taking turns.
2. Make Room for Play and Field Trips During Winter and Spring
In winter I have to be intentional about getting the kids outside. This year has been terrible. We always seem to be short on snow gear. It is an extra expense; those gloves aren’t cheap. And since snow is still fairly infrequent, snow gear doesn't fall into the necessity column of the family budget. Those restraints mean less time for the little kids to run outside when the temperature dips below freezing.
I can tell you the lack of physical activity outside has an effect on us because every night at 7 p.m. the whole house just loses its mind. There is a lot of running and wrestling. It looks like a three-ring circus.
To compensate for the lack of outdoor play, winter is our season for indoor field trips. We keep our Science Center pass handy to check out the new exhibits. There is never enough time to get through the whole building on one trip. And having an annual pass means we don't have to try! We spend a longer time in just one section of the museum, focusing only on that one area. I find this sharper focus helps the kids explore and observe with intention.
We try to incorporate low cost learning trips wherever we can:
- tours of municipalities
These trips help us stay enthusiastic about learning.
3. Shift the Homeschool Schedule for Winter
In winter we tend to get up early, probably because of the lack of evening sun and fewer evening activities like baseball and other sports. I encourage the kids to do their main subject work first thing in the morning. This means they are often done before noon. We move our reading time where it best fits our day. I tend to read to everyone at lunch right now. There have been years when bedtime reading was a better fit for us in the winter seasons.
Don’t let your schedule get you bogged down. You can change it in incremental ways over the whole school year.
The Power of Observation
If you see a shift in participation or attitudes, take the time to make an inventory of what is going on in your school.
- Are there new activities?
- Shifting bedtimes?
All of these can affect your day negatively. Making small changes can help you feel like you are back on track again before you are overwhelmed. These three hacks have helped me manage my 10 kids through winter and into spring! What tricks do you use to make it through the tough months and into summer break? Leave a comment!
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