Now that the holiday season is over, see it’s back to the daily grind for most of us. I don’t know if it is the dreary weather in January or the inevitable sugar slump after all the candy is devoured, order but I always feel a little gloomy returning to school for the second semester.
This makes it a challenge to homeschool with any energy, as children look for any excuse not to do their school! I know I will get this feeling every year, so I have come up with a few strategies that can help prevent the gloominess from destroying our school schedule when experiencing second semester burnout. I hope you find these tips useful as well!
Teach Something New
I get bored teaching the same subjects, and I know children get bored learning the same sorts of lessons. This is why we tend to mix up what I call our “peripheral” subjects each semester. Peripheral subjects include anything that is not absolutely essential to get through the school year. For us, with my eldest in third grade, this is pretty much anything other than English and Math. This January, I found a new Spanish language program for her to go through and we are going through a new history book as well, which features important women throughout history (this is the one we have).
Scale it Back
We don’t do a lot of extra activities outside the home, but during the restart period between January and March, we do even less. I get exhausted running from thing to thing and it seems to make the children cranky during this time as well. We start with fun extra curricular activities again once the weather starts to warm up.
Some years, we have also scaled back by reducing the school load to the essential subjects for a while. This helps everyone recharge without giving anyone “summer brain.”
Take Time for You
I don’t know if every mom feels this way (although I suspect most do), but after the holiday season I am exhausted! We have Thanksgiving, Christmas, two family birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and Bo’s birthday all within a two-month period. This is on top of any holiday activities, parties, or events that we attend or host. And in our house, with rather traditional gender roles, guess who is in charge of all these activities? Yep, it’s me.
Buy the time February rolls around, I just want to take a nap until spring. I believe that home and family happiness starts with Mom, so if you feel exhausted and worn down, take some time to re-charge. Don’t feel guilty about it; just do it. Ask your husband to take over your least favorite chore for a while, go browse a store without kids, take a hot bath, or take a fun trip somewhere (alone)!
When you are rested, you will be able to face the second semester with a better attitude.
Try a Longer Break
If you are feeling worn down with school and other activities, try taking a longer holiday break. No one says you have to follow the local school system on when to have school. If you need more than 2-3 weeks off, take longer! You can always make up for the time elsewhere.
Mix it Up
There are some subjects that have to get done each year no matter what. But nothing says they have to be taught in a boring way. Why not try teaching school in an unusual way? For math, you could set up a store and have children be shoppers or the storekeeper. For English, you could write a play together. For science, do some of those easy experiments that are flashy and fun. For history, go to a play about a famous historical figure or take a trip to a museum. The ideas are endless.
I know I often fall into the trap of thinking we have to be at home learning all day, but learning can happen anywhere and it is refreshing to do something different!
Keeping Homeschool Fresh and Fun
Hopefully these tips will help you get out of the winter school blues and face the second semester with courage and tolerance, if not outright joy.