The Christmas tree sits decostumed and relocated in a snow bank at the corner of our front yard — the floors have long been swept of absconded needles. The rich Christmas foods have been tucked high in the pantry, the décor returned to its Rubbermaid tote, and the hubbub of the season long since waned.
The New Year’s resolutions were made. The year has been planned out, at least in theory: the blog posts, the novel writing plan, the next semester of studies and new extracurricular activities freshly restarted. There is much to look forward to and enjoy.
And yet, this is the time of year that many feel the slump.
Check your Pinterest board or the local drugstore and you’ll discover that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but look outside as the clouds hang low, winter gets colder, and the sun rarely pierces the cloud cover. Then remember the clever planning last August that seemed super interesting for the beginning of the new school year, but now, but now…it’s all beginning to look a little dull.
Mid January to mid February we might title ‘The Homeschool Slump Month’. This will be my eighth homeschool February, I’m taking the liberty to name this part of the year for all of us.
How to beat the slump month in your homeschool?
1. Give up an activity entirely. Or give it a break. You know you’ve been working hard, accomplishing much, so no worries, let it go for a bit. How much of a bit? Enough of a bit to get reenergized. (I will be honest and tell you here that I have only ever done this ONCE in my recollection, and I am a horrible model in practicing it…but I figure if I say that out loud, I’ll practice harder. And knowing that I have the freedom to do it is helpful in itself).
2. Or stir up the daily schedule. You don’t have to do math first thing like many homeschoolers advise. You could start with a read-aloud cuddling in front of the fire. In my personal experience, this is one of the most useful suggestions I would offer. It’s weird, but just switching up the routine, or even starting a half hour later, provides a lot of mental freedom.
3. Focus on nature. All is calm outside. Trees are cracking in the wind. The fresh fluffy flakes are dry in their static lumps of bitter cold. Spring isn’t the only season to discover what’s outside. Maybe you’ve always been curious about birds, or pond life in winter, wildlife tracks and scat (yuck, but the kids love it). Nature time is mental health time.
4. Time to head to the local museum. Spend an afternoon perusing, discovering the history of your town. Then sit in a corner and ask the kids to imagine they belong in that era, using those tools and wearing those clothes–then encourage them to do a little creative writing.
5. Play games. (And if you haven’t already, you’ll discover their incredible value in learning in games) Bananagrams for spelling. Yahtzee for math. All sorts of games abound for logic, math concepts, story telling prompts on Pinterest. If you’re want for games or science activities, head to my Pinterest boards. I’ve got you covered. Topics of all sorts. I’m always on the hunt for something new. http://www.pinterest.com/TwainAusten
6. Find out how much you already know. Gather tidbits of topics you’ve discussed and record them on recipe cards, then ‘quiz’ the kids Jeopardy style. To them, this is a game…”I’ll take Russian history for 100 please”. The Jeopardy music plays on Spotify in the background while they try to answer…”in 1917, this occurred in Russia…” And they will eagerly answer for a skittle (just don’t buy candies you like).
7. Try deleting curriculum for a while. Yes, really. Education does not equal curriculum. Curriculum is a tool. And sometimes that tool is dull. Want to practice writing? Try a story starter. Write a funny letter to the editor: “Why our town should adopt bacon as our town food”. This, of course, would never work in our town, being the granola town that we are — which is why it would be even more hilarious.
8. Let them choose what they want to do and in what order. Even for just a week. They’re already familiar with your routine. Give them a little freedom to choose what, where and when. This exercise will help you throughout your year, and is a practice in discovering where your kids’ interests lie, which will make every day of the study year easier (an engaged kiddo is a learning kiddo).
9. Take science to the park. Place a cup of coffee on a merry go round and see if it will spill. Explain the physical attributes of motion. Centrifugal motion, right? Drop a ball from each stair on the slide…time it every stair up. Discover how high one must swing for an easier jump off the swing. Okay, just kidding, I would actually never do that. (Not because I don’t give my freedom to make painful mistakes, but rather, cause I don’t want to waste time in the emergency room).
10. Let them choose a topic of interest and write a science report. Okay, I actually routinely request this as they spend time at the library once a week. Does it matter to me that they choose research on Apollo 13 or forensic science? No it does not. No matter their choice, an interested kid is a learning kid.
11. Do a station day. With timed activities around the house. A bananagrams station to build their weekly spelling list. Chemistry experiments in the kitchen (lots of slime made in this house). Math games at the dining room table. iPad Duolingo for fifteen minutes (even I like this–I keep getting Vietnamese Duolingo notifications, don’t know who is practicing that–the rest of us are practicing French, cause we’re Canadian, and it’s just so pretty, ne c’est pas?)
12. Netflix or the History Channel. A wealth of possibilities. But you already knew this.
13. Celebrate your 100th day of studies. Borrowed from school, this is just an opportunity for fun. We have yet to do this…fourteen more days…but we’ll keep you posted on the details.
Don’t get bored and barrel through February. Find a way to make the Slump Month fun.