What to Do with Kids in the Winter

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

A note from Jamie: This post was originally posted on February 8, 2010. It’s that time of year again, so I thought a little winter encouragement is probably good for all of us!

For many of us, the start of February marks the middle of our school year. Halfway through, and spirits begin to sag. In many locations, winter clouds hover overhead, preventing little bodies from releasing stores of unused energy.

It’s enough to make a homeschooling parent feel a little….under the weather.

So this month is the perfect time to shake things up and bring some freshness to the learning experience.

Here are six ways to help you do just that.

1. Get outside.

This goes without saying, yet still needs to be said. When cold weather waits outside our doors, it’s easier to stick the kids in front of another video than get everyone bundled up.

But fresh air does so much good for every member of the family. Bringing life and energy to our bodies and a mental break to our minds, time outdoors is invaluable.

Photo by tab2_dawa

Heading outside is especially important when there’s a break from freezing temperatures.

If you live where it’s always cold this time of year and a new day dawns with the sun breaking through–take advantage of it! Don’t force the “schedule” of the day when this opportunity may not come again for a month.

You’ll often find that taking a break outside means more work will be done, and at a quicker pace, when you return indoors.

2. Break out of the rut.

Experiment with switching around the order of your day. Do you usually kick the morning off with spelling or handwriting?

Consider starting with a gripping read-aloud, maybe in front of the fireplace surrounded by pillows and blankets–even just for one day. Then proceed to your more intense subjects.

3. Rethink your priorities.

We’ll discuss educational priorities as the month progresses, but for now just keep in mind the core subjects that are most important to you.

Keep those bases covered, and allow your children some extra freedom in other educational areas to help beat those winter blues.

4. Follow the spark.

As you allow your children more freedom, you may discover extra time here and there to follow their interests. Head to the library for an impromptu investigation or to the computer for some online research.

Photo by Pawel Loj

It can also be rejuvenating to venture out on a field trip during the winter. Often places are less crowded since traditional schools remain in session.

Take a train to a nearby city and visit a new museum. Surprise your kids by taking them out to lunch for the day–call it a winter picnic.

You’ll find everyone more excited about learning when you return.

5. Look for something you can learn together.

Temporarily forgo the traditional “teacher/student” roles; join your children as a fellow participant in the learning adventure.

Curl up on the couch and watch a family documentary or gather around the dining table with a board game. Make cooking together an extension of the school day as you experiment with a new recipe for dinner.

It’s important that our kids see us learning as well.

6. Keep believing in yourself.

Self-doubt often grips the hearts of homeschooling moms or dads this time of year.

“Are we going to make it through the curriculum on time?” “Will James learn to read by the end of the year?” “Do I really know what I’m doing as a teacher?”

These questions are normal, but don’t let them define your homeschool. Winter isn’t the best time to become overly introspective.

Don’t let discouragement bring a dark cloud over your home this season.

You can do this–and we’ll be here to help.

What methods do you use to beat the winter blues in your home?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. We often do something active when the walls “close in.” Sometimes we play a fun game together (our new favorite is Settlers). But one of our very favorite ways to spend “cabin fever” time is with our wonderful read-alouds. The kids work on crafts, puzzles, or drawing projects, maybe even legos, while I read to them for hours. Of course, they need cats and dogs in the mix, too. So we all pile in our family room, get comfy, and immerse ourselves in a great story!
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: Our Homeschool in Pictures

  2. Good timing on this post. Just yesterday we went with a group of friends ice skating. The sun was shining and we were all bundled up and had a great time in the fresh air. We are planning on going again soon.
    Rana’s latest post: Cartoon Friday!

  3. If you have stairs in your home, allow me to introduce you to our favorite math game garuanteed to get the energy out!. I simply put a piece of paper on each stair with a number printed on it…the bottom stair is number 1. Than I call out an addition, subtraction, or multiplication problem to the child whos turn it is. Example: Collin, what is three plus five. So Collin hops up to number three stair and than hops up five more stairs, and calls out the answer…which is on the paper on the stair, for him! You can either hop with one foot or two, frontwards or backwards. This can last awhile and is fun and energetic! With multiplication the answer is not on the paper, but they must still hop the stairs and call out the right answer. Have fun!

  4. Thank You So Much! I woke this morning to a grey sky thinking, how can i keep homeschooling? Thinking all those bad things and what if’s. Thanks so much for your blog! I know I am not alone. 🙂

  5. Wow, your timing truly was great with this one. We have been experiencing some serious cabin fever around here….it’s definitely made me second- and third- (and fourth-, fifth-, sixth-) guess our choice to homeschool!

    The going outside thing…..it’s SO true. I haven’t been as good about getting outside lately as I could have been, but it really does make a difference in everybody’s attitude!

    Thanks for putting this great advice out there!

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