6 ways to shake up your homeschool & avoid the midwinter blues!

Homeschooling lore has it that more people decide to quit in February than any other time of the year. If homeschooling is really not right for you, it is perfectly fine to put your kids back in school. But so many people feel a slump in February that, if you feel like giving up, it might be a good plan to try something different for a while, and see if that (and the coming of spring) rejuvenates you. Here are six ideas for something new to try:

  1. Stagger your academic schedule so you’re starting something new in January (science, history, and art are good candidates). Most of us have more enthusiasm for new stuff than we do for the same old, same old.
  2. Get out of the house. Schedule a lot of field trips and a lot of group activities. Field trips don’t have to match your curriculum thematically. Try something off the beaten path. For example, Maryland folks might enjoy going up to York, PA for a day of free factory tours.
  3. Have reading days, where you stay in your PJs most of the day and just read to your kids – or everyone reads to themselves. Try a book swap, where each member of your family gets to pick a book for someone else to read – including letting your kids pick out their favorite graphic novel or series fiction for you.
  4. Trade kids with another homeschooler. (Not permanently.) You know how your kids always seem to behave better for someone else than they do for you? Similarly, other kids will probably be better behaved for you AND more impressed with your teaching. Or maybe both sets of kids will just appreciate their own family more when they go home.
  5. Suspend “regular school” for a few weeks and do a unit study, or a home renovation project, or community service, or board game tournaments. Again, none of this needs to be related to your regular curriculum thematically, and in fact, it probably shouldn’t be. Fancy private colleges often have a “winter term” when students get to learn offbeat stuff in a different setting, so why shouldn’t you?
  6. Have a movie week where you watch documentaries every day. Try a movie adaptation of a book you’ve read to your kids (or they’ve read on their own) and talk about the differences and similarities. Let your kids mess around filming with your video camera, iPad, or smartphone.

Surviving the February slump.

Homeschooling lore says that more people decide to quit in February than in any other month. It’s cold and dark, and the excitement most of us start the school year with has faded long ago. I gave a talk at the Baltimore Homeschool Community Center today about how normal the February slump is, and tips for getting through it. If you missed the talk, here are some of my suggestions for taking care of yourself and your kids, as well as my thoughts about when the normal midwinter slump is, well, not so normal. In my next post, I’ll share some ideas from today’s session about how to shake up your homeschooling itself.

Coping and self-care strategies:

  • Get some physical exercise for yourself and your kids. Skating, indoor pools, indoor gyms and playspaces, cross-country skiing, sledding, active Wii games, bowling, or just turning up the music and dancing in your living room.
  • Take sick days when you’re sick.
  • STOP reading homeschool porn: perfect blogs by perfect homeschooling families, assurances that homeschooling will supply you with angelic and brilliant children, perfect Pinterest projects.
  • Get social support from other homeschooling parents. (locals, BHCC is a great place for that.)
  • Trade babysitting with a friend and get some time to yourself. Don’t feel like you need to use it to clean your house or reorganize your school plans… unless that stuff is genuinely satisfying to you.
  • When possible, get exposure to sunlight early in the day. Bundle up and go for a morning walk, or sit in a sunny window.
  • Make sure your sugar intake is balanced by protein and whole grains.


  • You are hitting your kids, escalating punishments, or regularly screaming at them, insulting them, calling them names.
  • The winter isn’t going well with school, but neither did the fall. Or last summer, when you thought you’d catch up. Or last spring.
  • You are crying more than once a week, feeling sad or hopeless most of the day, having trouble sleeping or sleeping way more than usual, thinking about hurting yourself or your kids.
  • Your kids are hurting you, each other, or themselves.
  • Your kids are significantly “behind” and not improving, and either (a) you just can’t manage to get teaching done on a regular basis, or (b) teaching doesn’t seem to help.
  • Your child’s behavioral or emotional problems are taking up more and more of your life.
  • Call me at 443-826-9858 for a confidential consultation.