It is cold outside and illness seems to be looming at every corner, so it is easy to see why any homeschool mom and teacher would begin to feel the wintertime blues. I am here to tell you mommas you are not alone.
Wintertime blues were a thing as a classroom teacher, and they certainly didn't disappear now that I am a homeschool mom. Right now, you might be experiencing:
Lack of motivation
The urge to give up
All of the above is NORMAL. Yep, it is (especially going into year three of a pandemic on top of everything else).
So, I am sure you are wondering now what? Do you give up homeschooling? Do you sign up for three co-ops next year? Do you run away from home? In my opinion, NO to all of the above. You mix it up instead.
Here are the five things that worked for me as a classroom teacher and continue to work for me as a homeschool mom.
One of the simplest things you can do, especially this time of year, is to change up your schedule. Are you always completing bookwork in the morning and then having free time? Maybe, you need to start with a group game or video, then move on to bookwork. Instead of starting with a lesson, let them warm up using the computer or reading silently to awaken their brains. A simple tweak in the schedule can make a world of difference.
Ask your kids how they would like to begin their day. You may be surprised by their answer and it could just flip the right switch for your entire family.
Give them a choice. If your kids are feeling extra resistant and you are feeling especially frustrated, then maybe everyone feels forced. A great way to solve this is to allow for individual or group choice.
Lay out three options for a mini unit study or paper topics and let them choose what they want to work on. Choosing a topic intrinsically motivates children and gives them ownership over their work. I know we needed a break from our regular history curriculum, so I let my children choose a topic they wanted to learn more about (in our case how candy is made). It has been a fun mini unit and I have been able to incorporate inventions, history, science, math, reading, and writing! Anything that reaches across content areas is a win in my book!
Games is something I always suggest when you are in a rut.
Working on fractions or money? Play Fraction Pizza, Fracto (a card game), PayDay, or Money Bags
Exploring geometry? Play Blokus, build with toothpicks and mini marshmallows, or play geometry bingo
Studying history and geography topics? Choose a Guess in 10, Professor Noggin, or Trekking game
Spelling and reading a focus? Check out Mrs. Wordsmith games, bingo games, Boggle, Upgrade, Banana-grams, Spelligator, or I Have Who Has
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to games. Rainbow Resource has a plethora of fun and educational games to add to your homeschool. You can also check out my post of games at the dinner table.
Fresh air seems to reset everyone. I remember when one of my sweet boys was a colicky, gastric mess as a baby. He would cry for long periods of time and many times the only thing that reset him was a walk outside. The fresh oxygen hits your lungs and the oxygen levels in your blood go up energizing your body. Nature and fresh air also brings a sense of calm and relaxation to most. The change in temperature awakens your nerves, making you more alert and energized.
Plus, our homes get boring this time of year. So, go for a walk, on a field trip, or meet up with another family for a quick recess at the park. You'll be amazed how much better every feels.
Too cold? Maybe school needs to take place in the form of a indoor or virtual field trip. Afterward, you can have your children choose a topic to further research, write about and present to family members. It is a great time of year to add in dioramas, mobiles, stop-motion videos, or just video reports!
Independence is sometimes the key to a successful day in my home. Yes, I need to teach and model, but my children need to also learn to work independently. When I was a classroom teacher with thirty or more students, do you think I was able to continuously engage every student in an active lesson? Absolutely not. Nor is it good to do so. Children need modeling and teacher led moments, but they also need time to practice their new skills and gain independence.
How do I achieve this with three energetic boys? A High Five Bin.
Each of my children have a bin which houses five things they need to complete throughout the day with minimal assistance from an adult. Can they ask a question? Of course, but generally they can accomplish the activities themselves.
I set them up with a checklist (normally on a Post-It) and we go over the list first thing in the morning. Whenever I am working one-on-one with another child or trying to get work done, they need to work on their list. When they are finished I go over their work and then they get free time.
I am sure you are wondering what types of things are on the list, just check a few examples out below!
This is a great time for typing and handwriting practice, reading aloud to a sibling or to themselves, practicing math facts/concepts, reviewing spelling words (let them use whiteboards, boogie boards, stamps, alphabet stickers, window markers, or magnetic letters), and to complete a chore around the house.
I let me children complete their list in any order they would like. This gives them a bit more freedom and allows them to figure out how they work best. As an adult I am sure you have learned you work best when you complete a specific type of task first versus last. Some of us like to get some things we like least out of the way, while others would rather save a less appealing task to do at the end of the day. Not only are you giving them choice, independence, instilling self-motivation, but you are also allowing them to learn more about themselves and how they are most efficient.
I hope one of these methods will work for you! Just know you are not alone! There are peaks and valleys in every classroom and homeschool journey. If possible, continue to build your homeschool community in person or online. Feeling heard and understood is a huge motivator.
Still feel stuck? Reach out to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org I am happy to help!