How to beat the slump month in your homeschool?
The Christmas tree sits decostumed and relocated in a snow bank in the front yard. The floors have been swept of absconded needles. The leftover Christmas treats have been tucked high in the pantry, the décor returned to their Rubbermaid totes, and the hubbub of the season evaporated.
New Year’s resolutions were made, the year has been planned (at least in theory): the next semester of studies and extracurriculars are freshly restarted again. Much to look forward to.
Despite the new year plans, this is the time of year that many feel the slump.
The cloud cover hangs low, winter gets colder, and the sun rarely comes out to play. It’s all beginning to look a little dull. Mid January to mid February we might characterize as the “Homeschool Slump Month”. You might be feeling: less happy, lower mood, less productivity, less joy, less energy.
How to beat the slump month in your homeschool?
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.
Mix up the daily schedule. You don’t have to do math first thing like many homeschoolers suggest. You could start with a read-aloud cuddling in front of a fire. Just switching up that routine, or even starting a half hour later, provides mental freedom.
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 and can still be science.
Focus on field trips. Time to head to the local museum. Spend an afternoon discovering the history of your town. Ask the kids to imagine living in that era, using those tools, and wearing those clothes. Come home to write about it.
Play games. (If you haven’t already developed this homeschool habit, you’ll discover the incredible value in learning in games. Bananagrams for spelling. Yahtzee for math. All sorts of games abound for logic, math concepts, story telling prompts from Pinterest. If you’re want for games or science activities, head to my Pinterest boards.
Play the Jeopardy game. 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 event occurred in Russia…” And they will eagerly answer for a skittle (just don’t buy candies you like).
Try deleting a subject 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.
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 learning about your kids (which will make every day of the study year easier too). An engaged kiddo is a learning kiddo.
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 a smoother jump off the swing. (Just kidding, I would actually never do that.)
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.
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, ne c’est pas?)
Netflix, Knowledge Network, History Channel, or Curiosity Stream. A wealth of possibilities. But you already knew this. Add popcorn. Routinely watch one afternoon a week.
Stump the Dad. It’s fun, and it’s a challenge, to stump our dad with trivia. Our dad knows a lot of trivia. “Hey dad, do you know this word?” or “Dad, do you know where this is?” or “Dad, do you know who threw what in the something something world series?” –our dad generally knows. So it’s fun to try to stump him.
Join a homeschool co-op. It’s the perfect time of year to get out and be social for an afternoon.
Celebrate your 100th day of studies. Borrowed from school, this is just an opportunity for fun.
Notice when you’re feeling bored. If you’re bored, your kids are definitely bored.