Winter is a rough time for homeschoolers. The weather gets cold, which means children are stuck inside more often. The sky stays so very dull and grey in the mornings that it can be hard to find the self-discipline to start our days when even the sun is sleeping in. The holidays are over, leaving us tired from all the hubbub, yet at the same time we go through withdrawal because the hubbub is over. Viruses and other infections of the stomach or respiratory kind strike with varying degrees of severity and suck some of the happy out of life. We begin to receive notices from testing agencies that it is time to order tests for the spring. We begin to develop Homeschool Blah Syndrome (HBS). Symptoms of HBS include panic over perceived lack of progress, lack of desire to school, desire to throw the curriculum out a window and contemplation of quitting homeschool altogether.
Here are some suggestions for banishing HBS.
1. If you are worried about completing this year’s work, feel free to adjust your schedule. Most professions don’t get a ten week break at any time of the year, so teaching your children to spread out their work and breaks throughout the year is a good skill for adult life and helps avoid loss of learning that can happen with a long break. If you want your children to enjoy the freedom of a long summer break, consider doing some school work on Saturdays or finish this school year’s work in the fall.
2. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. Learning is meant to be a lifelong pursuit. Whatever goals you don’t meet this year, you still have time to accomplish in the year to come.
3. Consider whether your schedule is working for your family. It could be you need some of the socializing that the holidays encourage. Why not consider scheduling an occasional play date? All work and no play makes school become drudgery. Find a balance of work and play that works for you and your children.
4. As much as socializing is fun, sometimes we bring home more than fun memories from social activities. I know it’s hard to stay home when a child is sick. It stinks. However, what is just a cold to one family can turn into pneumonia for another family who has a fragile person in their midst, such as a newborn, elderly person, or someone fighting cancer. We stay home when we are sick and we ask people not to come into our home if they have colored snot, fever, coughs, rashes, diarrhea, vomiting or are otherwise not feeling well. We also wash hands frequently with antibacterial soap and use hand sanitizer when we are out of the house. This year I thought I could slack off a little on these policies and we all got sick for over two weeks right through Christmas. Bah hum bug!
5. The grey skies and short days can quickly bring anyone down. I find it helpful to get outside every sunny day to get some fresh air and a dose of vitamin D. I also try to adjust my perspective to focus on the positive. I love fall for the crisp cool days, brilliant colors, stealing to the beach on warmer days, and enjoying the less crowded atmosphere for field trips. Then, as the weather starts to get cold, the holiday season brings parties, fun decorations, and happy secrets as my family makes Christmas plans. After New Years, though the days are colder, they are actually getting longer. When my brain starts wanting to scream at the grey skies in February, I start watching for buds on the trees and crocuses on the ground as a sign that grey days are going away.
6. If you are considering a change of curriculum, now is a good time to analyze why the current curriculum isn’t working. Whether it’s too much planning for you, too much busy work for your kids, not enough depth of information, or any other issue, write down your thoughts on what you are using. Jot down what you think your children need. Before you spend more money on a new curriculum, you want to know what you like and don’t like about what you are currently using.
7. If you are considering throwing in the towel on homeschooling, that is a decision that requires careful thought too. It’s also the topic of my next blog entry.
Beat those blahs by flinging off monotony. Play a game. Have a day in your pajamas. If pajamas are your norm, have all the children dress up extra fancy for no reason at all. Wear your clothes backward. Eat all pink foods on a random Friday. Do something different from the norm and fun for your family. Do your best not to let school become drudgery. Remember you love your students dearly and that counts for a lot.
Dear homeschooling mama, breathe deep and know that this winter of your discontent will pass.