6 Tips for Homeschooling in Winter
As any veteran homeschooler can tell you, homeschooling in the winter season can require a lot of effort and encouragement for all parties involved, especially during some of the shortest days of the year. The holidays during the months of December can truly take a toll on the entire family, as the extended vacations, visitors, traveling, and excitement can leave us all reeling just a bit. The good news is that just like with other slumps you’re sure to experience throughout your homeschooling career, you’ll get over this one too!
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is hunker down and roll with the winter weather changes. Rolling with these cold-weather changes can include changing things up a bit from the normal routine to include fun activities and lesson plans that get the children excited during this mid-year period. These 6 ideas will hopefully add some fuel to your homeschooling fire and help you and your family make it to the warmer and brighter days ahead.
Slowly Transition Back from Winter Holidays Into Regular Homeschooling
The idea of 'now the holidays are over, let’s get back into the swing of things' isn’t always the best approach in the first few weeks after the new year starts. Cold winter months where you've been busy doing fun stuff can warrant all kinds of negative responses from those little voices who would rather just keep vacationing. For families who homeschool year-round or use the holidays for special unit studies or topical studies, it’s not quite as bad. But the fact is winter is simply a time when everything – and everyone - is moving a little slower.
You might start back with some lesson types that will actually provoke your child’s attention. Educational games, for instance, can be a great way to bring everyone together, have some fun, and still manage to learn a thing or two. The same is true for good books, games, and exciting field trips that can really spur the creative thought processes for lots of activities once you get back home. Be sure to check out THIS BLOG POST for some great winter field trip ideas during the winter months.
Even taking advantage of online learning, like with NOAA or National Weather Service, that has you studying why the current snowstorm is about to embark on your area. Doing a unit study by finding information online about the winter solstice would make for a lot of great hands-on activities, as well. These sorts of things will allow your homeschoolers to continue to learn great stuff that can fall into different subject areas without them feeling like they're really even doing school work at all.
Don’t Be Afraid to “Flip the Script” on Winter Learning
One of the hardest things for a new homeschooler to do is to “quit” on a curriculum. Whether it’s the money spent on the piece or the idea that it should be great, putting down one curriculum to move on to something different is just undeniably harder than it should be. I get it! You want to believe you made the right choices. And in reality, you very likely did. However, you can’t predict the future, and what works for a month or two might change entirely as your child learns, grows, and moves into a whole new category of learning.
You might want to simply set the curriculum aside instead of throwing it out altogether if there's a possibility that it might work later, or you know that you'll come back to it after easing back in. Sometimes, just switching things around enough to make the whole homeschooling day feel different can be the motivating factor for some children. Of course, it won’t work for children who have special needs and need consistency, but for some, it’s an option that can be worth trying out.
Winter Months Can Be a Great Time to Learn A Lot by Reading
When my daughter was young, math was her weakest subject. You might know exactly what I’m talking about. I tried many options and methods, but no matter what we did, nothing seemed to work. Nothing, that is, until I found a “math book” that had more words than numbers in it! What do I mean by that? I mean that this book, which was published in the 1800s, did more actual “explaining” the mathematical processes outlined in the book than actually listing problems to be worked and solved. As my daughter and I read through that book together, much of it we read aloud, I could see in her eyes when she understood math for the first time. And it made me realize that words can mean so very much in situations like this.
Classic literature is always a go-to source for homeschoolers, but especially during meteorological winters because everyone loves a good book! You don’t just learn to read, comprehend, and take in the written word, but you also learn the morals behind the story and many other facts that are written into the books themselves. Of course, some books are far better than others and you should always read a book before you attempt to read it to or with your child, simply so you’ll know the content ahead of time. But using books during the wintertime, snuggled up together on the couch, can be an excellent way to learn, to spend time in discussion and debate, and simply to bond as a family.
And of course, you can’t leave out the possibility that devotional time and Bible reading can be extended in this particular season. Choose a Bible story that’s age-appropriate and read it together. Pray as a family. Do Bible studies, Bible journaling, or ask everyone to share a prayer request or praise report. It’s not only a great way to spend time together as a family, but it’s wonderful for the spirit as well during these cold temperature months.
Accessing Hobbies, Crafts, and Passions in Winter
Every child has something that they absolutely LOVE to do. For some, it’s art, whereas others have a passion for music, sports, pottery, or a whole laundry list of other activities and pastimes. During the winter, you can actually make a great habit of allowing this outlet for family activities as well. You could plan a craft night, getting everyone together for a great afternoon or evening of drawing, painting, or scrapbooking. This could be a great activity to which your child could invite friends or family members over to participate in their 'schoolwork'.
The same can be accomplished by putting together a talent show, where the children get to showcase a particular talent that they’ve been honing. Musical instruments, singing, gymnastics, or acting could all be excellent talents to put on display, much to everyone’s delight. Don’t cast off even the simplest of acts, such as gathering up a stack of coloring books and hot cocoa for a great night of just coloring and enjoying one another’s company.
It's Important to Get the Wiggles Out During the Winter Months
Younger children are especially susceptible to a bad case of cabin fever when you simply can’t get out into nature during colder temperatures. It’s not always possible to head out for a play date, or to the library, so what’s a kid to do? Well, one way to alleviate some of that pent-up energy is to create an obstacle course in your own home. Yes, it can be messy, which is hard for homeschool moms who like “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. But, as you’ll find out after trying it just once, it can be worth it!
Create tunnels, forts, mountains, and caverns that create 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 absolutely love science and get all over giddy at the idea of science projects. I know, because I was one of those children! As a product of the public school system, I would often talk my elementary science teachers into letting me take home supplies, like test tubes, vials, and other things that I didn’t have access to at home, for a variety of fun and quirky projects.
The truth is science is fun! And winter is the perfect time to dive deeply into some really fun projects. It’s a great time to do ice and snow studies - you could talk about the effects from frostbite, experiments revolving around things like how long it takes water to freeze at certain temperatures outdoors, whether the wind plays a part in that, and how long it takes the sun to thaw things out again. Or maybe you study the recent snowstorm or what winter storm is approaching and what it will take for it to materialize.
A simple Google search will yield extensive results for winter science experiments, so get started researching right away. If your children are old enough, you might even ask them to do the searching, effectively turning one project into two and helping them hone their research skills in the process.
As you move toward the March equinox from the winter months, you'll find that learning will become more vibrant again. Spring weather will bring about a new excitement to learn. But, for those hard winter months, using these tips will get you through.
There’s an old quote that I’m sure you’ll find familiar: Necessity is the mother of invention. At times, I think it must surely have been a homeschooling parent that coined the term (though its authorship is highly debated, in reality). As different seasons and scenarios come up throughout your homeschooling endeavors, you too will find that these necessities create inventions of all kinds.
No matter what comes along know that “a single day”, however good or bad, does not set the stage for the entire school year. There will be many ups and downs and lots of times when you feel like you might not have it all together, but through it all, know that you are not alone. As homeschooling families, we’ve all been through similar situations, and we all overcome them. I’m sure you will too!