Written by contributor Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy
Before we even began homeschooling, I had the good fortune to hear Susan Wise Bauer’s warning: “Everyone wants to quit in November and February.”
Time has proven her right: these are the months when I feel like we’re just slogging through it, far from the excitement of the semester’s beginning or the relief of its end.
And these are the months when the days are cold and the nights are long, without the sparkle of the holidays. It’s easy to get sick, busy, or just plain stir-crazy.
November and February might not be easy months, but I can survive them a little better if I take the following precautions.
1. Take good care of yourself and your kids.
During these months, I have to remember to take care of my body the best way I know how. (This is the easiest way to make these months better, and the one I’m most likely to skip. Not this year.)
We all know what it takes: eat healthy food, take your vitamins, get some exercise, prioritize sleep.
My kids don’t mind the cold — they love to bundle up and head outside to get some sunshine — but I have to make myself go along, knowing I’m happier when I do.
(If you crave daylight like I do, think about trying a therapy lamp. I waited way too long to give this a try, but I’ve had better winters since I started using one every morning.)
2. Take a break if you need to.
I need to remember that homeschooling is not an endurance contest, and the ability to take breaks as needed is a strategic tool in my toolkit. I shouldn’t be afraid to use it!
And whatever I do, I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off. Sometimes taking a step back is the best thing I can do, for my kids and for me.
3. Hit the road.
If we’re already taking a break, we’ll consider a road trip. There’s lots to learn in other locales — near and far — and November and February are inexpensive times to travel.
The first year we homeschooled, we went to the beach in November. We took a week off school, soaked up some sunshine, and spent hours playing outside.
The year after that, we spent the week before Thanksgiving in Chicago. Hotels were cheap, many museums were free, and the city was already decorated for Christmas. Yes, it was cold, but it was worth it.
Of course, even “inexpensive” travel is pricey, and that isn’t in our budget this year. Don’t worry, there are other options.
4. Mix it up.
Sometimes taking a break from our regular curriculum is as valuable as a full stop.
I’m dreaming about spending a week reading kid lit classics or doing science projects. We love to spend the whole morning at the bookstore, or the pet shop. My kids want to visit the zoo and the library and the children’s museum.
These are the months to break out those art supplies we don’t often use (and study some famous painters, if we’re feeling ambitious). We might listen to some new music, read up on composers, and watch Swan Lake on DVD. We’ll bake, play at the park, hike a few trails.
What does your family like to do? These are the months to do it — during school hours.
5. Know you’re not alone.
It was enormously encouraging for me to hear — in advance — that when I felt like quitting, it wasn’t because I was doing this homeschooling thing wrong, and it wasn’t because we’d made a terrible decision to pull our kids out of regular school.
Some months are just hard. If you know that going in, you can prepare accordingly.
How does your family get through November and February?