Seasoned homeschoolers know that winter can be a tough time to keep kids on track. With shorter days and the added stress of the holidays, it can be hard to keep everyone motivated. But don’t worry, this is just a phase and things will eventually get back to normal.
Sometime, the best way to deal with winter weather changes is to change your routine a bit and include fun activities and lesson plans. This will help you and your family make it to the warmer and brighter days ahead.
Slowly Transition Back from Winter Holidays Into Regular Homeschooling
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. Cold winter months can be tough, especially if you’ve been busy doing fun stuff. Families who homeschool year-round or use the holidays for special unit studies or topical studies may have an easier time, but the fact is winter is simply a time when everything – and everyone – is moving a little slower.
Some things you can do to get your child’s attention back on learning include playing educational games together and going on fun field trips. You can also read books and play games together that will help stimulate their creativity.
Home schooling during the winter can be fun and engaging by taking advantage of online learning tools, such as those offered by NOAA and the National Weather Service. A unit study on the winter solstice can be a great way to incorporate hands-on learning activities. This will allow your children to continue learning about various subjects without feeling like they are doing schoolwork.
Don’t Be Afraid to “Flip the Script” on Winter Learning
It’s hard for a new homeschooler to give up on a curriculum, whether because of the money spent on it or because it seemed like a good idea. But sometimes a curriculum that worked for a month or two might not work as your child learns and grows.
If you’re not sure whether or not a curriculum will work, you might want to set it aside instead of throwing it away. Sometimes, just making small changes to the homeschooling routine can be enough to motivate children. Of course, this won’t work for children who have special needs and need consistency, but it’s worth trying for some children.
Winter Months Can Be a Great Time to Learn A Lot by Reading
During the winter, homeschoolers often turn to classic literature. There are many benefits to reading classics together as a family. You can learn to read, comprehend, and take in the written word. You can also learn the morals behind the story and many other facts that are written into the books themselves. Reading classics together can be an excellent way to learn, to spend time in discussion and debate, and simply to bond as a family.
Accessing Hobbies, Crafts, and Passions in Winter
Every child has something they love to do. This could be art, music, sports, pottery, or any other activity. You can use this as an opportunity to create a family activity during the winter. Plan a craft night where everyone can spend time together doing something creative. This can be a great activity for your child to invite friends or family over to participate in.
You can do this by organizing a talent show, where the kids can perform a skill they’ve been practicing. This could be playing an instrument, singing, gymnastics, or acting. Even if it’s something small, like gathering coloring books and making hot cocoa, it’ll be a great way to spend some time together.
It’s Important to Get the Wiggles Out During the Winter Months
Younger children tend to get really bored and stir-crazy when they can’t go outside during cold weather. It’s not always possible to take them to a friend’s house or the library, so what can you do? A great way to let them burn off some energy is to set up an obstacle course in your house. It might be messy, which can be hard for homeschool moms who like to keep everything tidy. But it’s worth it!
You might consider breaking your homeschool schedule into smaller chunks, then completed one at a time. Don’t forget to reach out to other homeschooling parents for ideas, support, and advice.
1. Use Audiobooks
Making time for audiobooks can help you stay on top of your homeschooling schedule if you’re teaching multiple subjects at once. I like to alternated between a read-aloud from history or literature every day. Listening to audiobooks also frees up time to focus on other projects, and we can sometimes listen to them in the car too.
2. Double a Subject Each Day
Try getting ahead by doing two assignments in one day for the subjects you are struggling in. So, for example, if you’re behind in history, try two history assignments on the first day, two science assignments on the second day, and so on. This method keeps you from getting overwhelmed and makes progress gradually but steadily.
3. Throw a Big Subject Party
This solution is great for Science. Our family partnered with another family in our neighborhood. I taught science one afternoon a week while the other mom focused on art lessons on another day. You can easily cover several days’ worth of lessons at once when kids are relaxed and feel less ‘school-ish’. My adult kids are still amazed at the drawings they did and that we build a hover-craft together.
4. Plan Skip School Breaks
If the rest of the neighborhood is off school for bad weather, why not take a day off as well! I always felt like it was intensely unfair that homeschool kids didn’t get weather days off. Try building it into your schedule!
5. Skip Lessons
One way to catch up if you’ve fallen behind in the class is to look at the schedule and decide you’ve read enough about the topic and move on. It’s okay to not do every single assignment. The Instructor’s Guide says it’s okay to skip assignments, and we should actually do it if we need to catch up. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not check every single box.
6. Read on Weekends
We read extra at bedtime on weekends to make up for the difficult reading aloud during the week. If Dad can help us, that’s great!
7. Assign Homework for Evenings
Homeschoolers can take advantage of evenings to catch up on schoolwork if they fall behind during the day, rather than avoiding homework altogether. I have found that evenings are a great time to get extra work done. It can be really fun to get dad involved if there are subjects he enjoys.
Scheduling Your Homeschool So You’re Not Behind
Now that you know how to catch up on school work when you are behind, let’s consider how you got there in the first place so you can avoid this situation going forward. Notice the word avoid. There is an ebb and flow to life that means you’ll always be swimming upstream to stay on track with your desired timeline. Sometimes you get a bit ahead; other times you get a bit behind. The goal is to stay on track most of the time so that you don’t feel you’re drowning.
If you always feel behind, there are two obvious corrections:
- Change your expectations.
- Or change your execution.
Change Your Expectations
You might be homeschooling many children, have a chronic illness, be a single parent with little outside support, or simply not be a Type A person. These could all be reasons why you would need a more laid back lifestyle to feel whole.
Your expectations for working through your homeschool curriculum might not be realistic.
Although 36 weeks is the standard for public schools and most homeschool curriculums, you don’t have to stick to that timeline. You can spread out the weeks over a longer period of time if you need to.
Digging tunnels, making forts, and exploring mountains and caverns is a great way to jump-start creative and critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and tons of imagination. Don’t forget teamwork, if you have more than one child, and all of this certainly counts towards physical education. Most of all, though, you can enjoy yet another session of great family time, bonding experiences, and memory-making that will likely never be forgotten.
Dive Into Science During the Winter Months
Some children really enjoy science and get excited about the idea of doing science projects. I was one of those children! Because I went to public school, I would often ask my elementary science teachers if I could take home supplies like test tubes, vials, and other things that I didn’t have access to at home, for different fun and interesting projects.
Winter is a great time for fun science projects! You could study the effects of frostbite, or experiment with how long it takes water to freeze at certain temperatures outdoors. You could also look at how the wind affects freezing, and how long it takes the sun to thaw things out. Or, you could study a recent snowstorm, or a winter storm that is approaching.
Try looking online for some winter science experiments that you can do with your kids. If your children are old enough, you can have them help you look for ideas and help them learn research skills at the same time.
If you’re struggling to stay on track with your homeschooling schedule, I hope some of these ideas will help you catch up! Don’t underestimate the importance of momentum! Once you decide what method of catching up will work best for your family, put your plan into action and you’ll start making progress quickly.