13 Ways to Beat the Winter Homeschool Blues

13 Ways to Beat the Winter Homeschool Blues

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Each year as we taper off the holidays and wait for spring to come, I notice how working through our curriculum and schoolwork can begin to feel burdensome and difficult. I call this the winter blues — when the last stretch of winter feels tiresome and dreary. In my years of homeschooling, sometimes the effort of continuing the daily rhythm that was fun a few weeks ago falls flat.

When I notice these feelings about our daily routine, I prefer to mix it up instead of letting it overshadow our days. My goal is to find a way to adjust my attitude and encourage my children to find our way back into a light and engaging way of going through our schoolwork rather than keeping at something that isn't working. There will always be a time and place for our planned and structured days, but I prefer to give myself permission to take a break and re-evaluate as needed.

After all, isn't that one of the joys of homeschooling? The freedom to shake it up and make adjustments when something isn't working? Here are some of my favorite ways to beat the winter blues.

1. Take a week off and play!

how to add play into homeschool day

The easiest way to get out of a rut is to simply set aside the books and give yourself and your children a break. I find this is especially life-giving if we are coming off a busy season of travel and holiday fun. Let your children play together or with friends and just enjoy themselves. Ask your children what they are in the mood to do, and do that! I am always surprised at how refreshing it feels to have an unstructured day and let them have unlimited time to play together or dedicate themselves to a hobby or craft. 

Related: Open-Ended Play Must-Haves

2. Evaluate what is working and what needs to change.

best homeschool planner

Spend some time auditing your homeschool planner and try to pinpoint what is working and what needs to shift. Is there a specific curriculum you or your kids are struggling through? Is there a part of your week that you are excited about or your children look forward to each week? Is a particular time of the day, like the mornings or the afternoons, extra challenging? Are you trying to fit in too many things where you are feeling overwhelmed or rushed? 

Give yourself the freedom to add or subtract things from your daily schedule to find what works best for your family in this season. After you re-evaluate, mix up your visual schedule to let your children know that this is the beginning of a new routine and see how it goes.

Related: Homeschool Planning 101 and End of Homeschool Year Reflection and Celebration Ideas

3. Do something for yourself.

self care for homeschool moms

When I look at my life and talk with homeschool mamas in my community, I find it is easy to shift into a role where our entire life is geared toward our children. And while I am a dedicated mother and wife, there are times when I need to take a break, spend time alone, and do something nice for myself. I need to do this from time to time to be able to give my best to my husband, my children, my business, and other endeavors in my life.

Of course, there are so many ways to do this. There are small things you can add to your day and things that are a splurge. Do what works for you. I like to get up early before my children wake up and spend time reading my Bible and in prayer. I also get up and get dressed to start the day. Other times, I will get out of the house and get myself a coffee at a nearby cafe, get a pedicure, or plan a walk through the woods with my sister. You could get a massage, read a book, or take a bath after the kids go to bed. There are always little ways you can check in with yourself and fill up your cup that will help you recharge so you can continue to give to those in your life.

Related: How Has Motherhood Changed You? I Asked, You Answered and My Homeschool Mom Morning Routine

4. Remember that this feeling is normal.

burnout parenting homeschooling resources

Give yourself permission not to love every aspect of homeschooling or parenting. Homeschooling is hard, and parenting is hard! I am always surprised at how once I feel like I have something figured out, a new challenge comes along.

Further, burnout — emotional, mental, or physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged stress — is a normal and valid experience. If you are starting to notice signs of burnout, like feeling irritable, angry, or overwhelmed with no end in sight, discuss it with your spouse, family member, or close friend and work towards a way to find relief. 

I try to keep in mind that a lot of things are hard, and that's okay. Feeling like aspects of parenting or homeschooling are hard doesn't make you a bad parent. Hang in there, you've got this! We've all been there.

Related: Dear New Homeschool Mom: 5 Things I'd Like To Tell You

5. Mix things up with a fresh unit study or holiday study.

homeschool spring unit study ideas

Is it time to add something new to your days? A fresh unit study can mix it up while still overlapping with many of your school subjects. Prep for Treehouse Nature Study: Spring or An Expectant Easter, and lift your spirits with new activities, books, and learning materials.

Unit studies, sometimes called thematic units or integrated studies, use a hands-on approach to add depth to a subject rather than just reading about a subject or reading a textbook. My preference is to apply Charlotte Mason principles to unit studies, and give my children the experience of learning through elements like:

  • Folk songs
  • Hand rhymes
  • Picture study
  • Booklists with fiction picture books, non-fiction picture books, and illustrated reference guides
  • Hands-on activities

For example, Treehouse Nature Study: Spring features 13 weeks of learning for different themes of spring including seeds and sprouts, rainbows, Spring Equinox, snails and worms, and more. For years we have returned to Treehouse Nature Study to explore the elements of nature in new and exciting ways that bring life and meaning to the seasons throughout the year.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Sweet Spring Picture Book List and Easter Story Egg Hunt Activity

6. Declutter, reorganize, and redecorate your homeschool space.

how to organize homeschool room space

When homeschooling starts feeling repetitive and mundane, freshening up my space always reinvigorates me. 

Decluttering and simplifying my space always makes me feel more relaxed, plus it helps me gather a vision for what’s on the horizon. Take down the projects and lessons you worked on during previous months and make space for what you will study next. File away the pieces you want to save, and get rid of things you don’t need. If you have been holding onto a lot of old curriculum, consider lending it to others who can use it, or selling it at your local homeschool consignment store (here’s mine if you’re located in North and South Carolina). 

Take some time to organize your homeschool area to make it more functional and useful to you. I have always enjoyed having open shelving to display books, art, poems, and pieces we are studying. For larger objects, I used bins and baskets to keep things tucked away and out of sight. For all of my favorites, check out my Amazon storefront.

Related: Homeschooling in a Small Space

7. Add “gameschooling” into your homeschool routine.

best board and card games for children

Gameschooling is not a new concept for me, but it’s not something I have utilized in our home education until recently.  We have entered our game era and I am so excited about it!

I have found that "gameschooling" is such a great way to enrich our regular homeschool studies – and sometimes instead of formal schooling when we need a break or change of routine. It’s also a great strategy for getting over a “hump” in learning something specific that a child may be struggling with. 

This blog post lists my favorite games for preschool, math, language arts, science, and more!

Related: Best Educational Board and Card Games for Kids and Families

8. Get outside and hunt for the first signs of spring.

nature outdoors benefits for children kids

The weather may not be ideal just yet, but it can still be fun to go outside, get some fresh air, and observe what is going on outdoors. Gently encourage your children to notice what they are seeing, and whether those are the remnants of winter, the beginning of spring, or both. Let your children document their findings in their nature notebook, and track what changes in the coming weeks as the weather starts to shift. If notebooking feels too formal, snap some photos of nature areas around your home and document the same area a few times over the next several weeks. Look at the photos with your children and ask them to tell you what things changed.

Related: 30+ Nature Play Ideas for the Early Years

9. Break up your routine with poetry tea time.

how to add poetry to your homeschool teaching children poetry

One simple thing I always have in my back pocket that makes a day special and takes very little planning is tea time! Bake or pick up a special treat, set the table, light a candle, and read poems or books aloud for your children. This can be set to a theme or it can be time to work through some of your language arts curriculum, or just some of your favorite books at stories. Finding small ways to make our day special can go a long way toward re-energizing us.

Related: Simple Ideas for a Valentine's Tea Time

10. Plan some one-on-one time with each child.

intentional time with children

Sometimes when I am feeling weighed down by our daily routine, I am also feeling distracted or disconnected. I know that we all value connection with our children, and one way to improve this is to add one-on-one time with each child.

This can be as simple as setting aside time to read books aloud. You could let your children each take turns staying up an extra hour after their siblings go to bed to do something special with you. You could play a game together, create a special treat together in the kitchen, work on a project together, or just spend time in conversation together.

Hopefully, when it's time to get back to your daily homeschool rhythm, you and your children will feel equally refreshed, connected, and ready to tackle the day.

Related: 100 Life Skills to Intentionally Teach Your Children

11. Change the scenery for your homeschool lessons.

best places to homeschool

Changing your surroundings for your homeschool lessons is an easy way to add variety when things start to feel monotonous. When the weather permits or the sun is shining, I like to lay out a blanket on the grass and take our books outside to work our way through our lessons or read-aloud.

You could also look for other learning opportunities that can give some life to your school days. Earlier this year, as we were moving and completing our new home build, I decided to mix things up and lighten my load for homeschooling. I enrolled my older two children in a homeschool co-op study, and during the same time block, I took my younger two children to a local coffee shop nearby. Getting out of the house was just what we needed. My older children did new projects in a group setting, while my younger children and I would order a treat and spend time together. At the coffee shop, we worked through new books together and practiced learning and writing letters of the alphabet.

Related: How to Teach a Child to Read

12. Use the extra time indoors to write a note or a letter to someone you love.

letter writing ideas pen pals language arts project

If you're stuck indoors waiting for spring to arrive, writing letters can be an enjoyable way to practice writing skills, handwriting, sentence and paragraph formation, grammar, and build relationships! It’s basically a language arts lesson wrapped in a fun package.

All of my children can do it simultaneously at their own levels. My little ones can draw pictures and tell me what they want to say to grandma or a friend, and I can write the words. My older children write a few sentences or paragraphs. My children have done everything from drawing pictures to writing jokes, stories, and general notes. Sometimes they use stationary and other times lined or computer paper. 

Related: Mail Monday: Language Arts through Penpalling

13. Plan an adventure.

field trip ideas for homeschool families

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to experience learning in other places. Visit the library, the zoo, or a museum you've been meaning to go see. Go and see a play or a concert in a nearby town or city. Plan a road trip to visit friends or family, or explore a landmark you want to show your kids. Search online for things in your area you've never explored, like historical markers, birding trails, new parks, or local arts. Getting out of your home and teaching your children to enjoy life is something they will never forget.

Related: Screen-Free Road Trip Ideas for Toddlers and Children

How are you handling the tail end of winter? Share your favorite ways to get through this season in the comments below.

1 comment

Amber Stephens

These were EXTREMELY helpful. I’ve been in a slump all of a sudden. We got back from a lovely vacation, the weather’s been so warm, and my space felt cluttered. So I put us in spring break like our local school and I’ve been throwing stuff into the garage to sell at our garage sale and finishing organizing projects. I feel so much better! Looking to add these other tips too.

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