The Winter of our Discontent
Winter can be the pits, especially when you homeschool. It’s usually cold, dark and it seems as if Spring will never come. Kids are getting antsy, they stay indoors more, the walls seem like they are closing in on you.
Winter blues can sap your strength and the lack of sun can leave you depressed, add those two together and throw in a bunch of hungry minds that look to you to teach them and you have a recipe for ‘The Winter Doldrums’. What can you do to shake off these doldrums? How can you make it to sunnier days? Here is some advice, take it for what it’s worth, but know that when the kids are driving you up a wall there are things you can do for everyone’s sanity (and no, putting them in school isn’t one of the things.)
Get out! Even if you are snowed in with 3 feet of snow, get out of the house! You don’t have to go far, but getting out can be freeing. Maybe you bundle up the kids and start the day with a walk around the block, maybe you go out after lunch and make snowballs to throw around, or you might take the dog for a walk in the evening. Fresh air in your lungs and a bit of exercise to get the blood pumping is good for your body (and mind.) Even better, invite some friends to go sledding or to your local park to play. If you seriously can’t get out of the house with everyone, try dancing indoors, jumping on a trampoline, playing Simon says – anything to get the body moving.
Stash the books! If you are already a hands-on kind of teacher, you probably already do this – but, if you steer more towards textbooks than hands-on learning, take note! Sometimes you need to stash the books, drop the textbooks, forget the papers and go ‘do’ some learning. Maybe you just read about the inner workings of the heart and your child dutifully colored in the worksheet and labeled the proper terms on it.
Now, go find a heart dissection to attend! Let’s say your child just got through reading about tropical rainforests, good, now go find a greenhouse or botanic garden and visit it. Your local library is a good starting place to find special events that are hands-on. Doing some hands-on learning can invigorate your homeschooling, put the fun back into teaching and make your kids the envy of their friends (You got to blow up a volcano in your kitchen! You got to dissect an eyeball! Cool!)
Go on a pretend vacation! Who doesn’t like to go on vacation? Well, here’s your chance to go to a sunny beach for free (or be a ski bum for free.) Plan a pretend vacation. Get brochures, maps, go to the library and check out books about your location. Find out the history, climate, and geography of your destination spot. What would you do when you were there? Would you hike, raft, swim, or tour museums? Are there any festivals or events that happen during the time you want to visit? Here’s a thought, maybe you will actual go to this place. I live in Denver, so I might pick Pueblo, CO as our vacation spot. I would get brochures, check out things to do on-line, find museums to visit, see if there are any events going on, find out about historical places and see what hiking areas are there. Then, we’d go there on a day trip. The point is, your spot could be close or remote, you could never visit in real life or you could plan a weekend trip there; the planning and learning about a new place will give you a break from the typical school fare.
Do a project! This is something that you could do once or start it in the winter and find that you do it all the time. Pick a project: it could be knitting hats for kids in the hospital, it could be playing cards with people at a nursing home, making meals for the homeless, picking up trash in your neighborhood – you are only limited by your imagination (and resources.) Maybe you start a project that involves a once a week commitment or you find that you can work on something for a month; whatever the time amount is that you set the point is to just do it. You might find that your project spills over into spring, or maybe it just becomes part of what you do for school. Not only are you overcoming the boring days of Winter, but you are instilling the habit of volunteerism in your children.
Hopefully you can now see the glimmer of sun on the horizon. Winter is just a season, it passes quickly and if you feel heaviness in your homeschooling I hope these few ideas will help you pass the time until spring comes.