Ideas for how to beat the winter doldrums in your home school

Are you having a hard time trying to beat those winter doldrums? Has everyone sunk into “boring routine” mode? That is easy to do this time of year. All the holidays are over, nothing exciting is happening. The weather is probably lousy. Time to shake things up a bit! Add a bit of excitement to your schoolwork routine. Check out these ideas!

Change Up the Routine to Beat the Winter Doldrums

One thing you can do to try and escape the winter “blahs” is to change up your routine. Switch your schedule around, mix things up. Do you always do Bible first? Throw your kids for a loop and start your day with science. And the next day, maybe you can do their writing assignments first.

Or maybe changing the location of schooling will make school seem like an adventure that day. Instead of sitting at their desks or the kitchen table, do school one day in front of the fireplace. With the fire blazing cheerfully away, of course!

Start your school day with supper instead of breakfast and then have breakfast for lunch or supper. Play some games in the morning and do schoolwork after lunch. What other ways can you think of to change your routine for a day or two? You guys are creative; you will come up with some great ideas!

Do Something Unexpected

Your kids know what to expect on any given school day. They’ve got the drill down; they know what books to take out next. So, do something totally unexpected! Come in to teach them in a clown suit. Serve snacks with science lessons, scrumptious nibbles during math work – you get the idea.

Play some word games instead of the usual language arts lessons. Pull out some other games to use in place of the usual history or geography work. Do you read aloud to your kids regularly? Try it!

Look for ways you can portray practical uses for what they are learning. Are you studying anything related to engineering? See who can use common household materials to build the strongest bridge. Write an inauguration speech for the President to deliver. Create a map of your neighborhood. See whose map is the most accurate. Or have them work together on the project. Use toys to create the neighborhood map – roads, toy cars, blocks, etc. Yes, it may take up the entire floor, but they will remember that project!

Beat those Winter Doldrums with a Surprise Activity

Throw a surprise activity in the middle of the school day. Start your school day as you usually do, work through a few subjects, then throw in the surprise. Snowball fight? Baking session? Sledding activity?

Host a “Destination Unknown”

Did you ever participate in a “destination unknown” youth activity? The leadership plans an activity but keeps it secret from all the kids. They may know what type of clothing to wear and what time to meet, but that’s all. They show up, get on the bus, and go to some unknown activity. You could do something like that with your kids.

Meet by the front door with your warm clothing and your water bottle. Load them all in the car and go off on an adventure. It might be a nature walk, could be a trip to the zoo, an afternoon of skiing, or sledding – the ideas are endless.

Or, you could plan a longer trip. Total surprise. Pack all the suitcases without them knowing, pack the car, then load them up and take off for the beach, or the ski resort, or Grandma’s house – whatever! Don’t you think they will love a surprise trip to somewhere different?

Plan a Short Unit Study

Interrupt your regularly scheduled schooling with a short unit study on something of interest to all of them. Or just on something fun! Plan a unit study around a book you are reading to them. Or craft a short unit about a winter activity they all enjoy.

What are some unit study ideas? There are so many possibilities! Here are a few:

  • Wilderness survival in the winter
  • Fire
  • Winter sports
  • Snow and Ice
  • A country in the north – Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Canada
  • Hibernating animals
  • North or South Pole expeditions or explorers
  • Planning a trip – location, costs, transportation, food, culture, etc.

You get the idea – almost anything can turn into a unit study!

Host a Competition

You can create a competition out of all sorts of things. Competition often spurs creativity, teamwork, ambition, planning. Healthy competition is often a good thing. It also usually involves at least some amount of learning or putting into practice things already learned.

So, what kinds of competitions can you use with your kids? Obviously, games can provide competition. Chess or Checkers tournaments. Snowman building. Snow forts and snowball fights. Building structures – towers, bridges, tunnels. Recipe contests (which recipe yields the best brownies?) Relay races. Unusual races.

How should you pair up your kids during competitions? Great question. Of course, some contests can be done with individual competitors. You can use teams of boys versus girls. Whenever you use teams, you want to try to make them as fair as possible. Because of the number of kids we had and the large age range, I used to pair older kids with younger ones to even out the sides. Or athletic ones with less athletic partners. The goal was always not to give any obvious advantages to any “team.”

Organize a Film Festival (with related assignments)

Host a family film festival! Put together a list of films to view. Your film list could consist of new films that you haven’t seen before. Or, you could have all your movies related to a single subject. Another idea is to have all your films based on books. Sit down together and enjoy the show! And don’t forget the snacks!

So how can you make this even remotely educational? Assign your kids the role of a film critic. Have them write a critique of one or more films. Or, you could have them give nominations for awards – Best Music, Best Actor/Actress, Best Special Effects, etc. If you do films based on books, have them write or discuss how the film and the book relate. Are the storylines even close? Which is better? What would they change?

And an FYI – The movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is not even remotely close to the book it was (very loosely) based on! (Did you know there was a book?) I think the only things they have in common are two kids and a flying car. But they are both great stories!

Try a New Activity Together to Beat the Winter Doldrums

Try a new activity together as a family. Something you have never done before. What might that be? Good question! Maybe it will be a new game or a completely different kind of game. Perhaps you can try a new outdoor activity – cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, winter hikes, ice fishing. Or maybe you are more into indoor activities. Have you played laser tag? Gone go-karting? Trampoline park, anyone?

You get the idea – it is easy to get into a boring routine this time of year. Break out those winter doldrums, shake up your routine, plan something out of the ordinary! And have fun!

Looking for more info about homeschooling? Check out the following:

Benefits of Homeschooling

Homeschooling Basics

Reasons You Should Not Homeschool

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