Maybe it’s just me, but homeschooling in the winter can be a challenge. My children don’t play outside as much, playgroups don’t meet as often, and we spend a lot more time at home.
In some ways, this homeward focus is a gift. We love homeschooling because we love home, but we also love and need our community and friends. When the forecast looks cold and gray, all I want to do is stay in my pajamas and read. My kids seek screens more often, and if we’re not careful, we can start to feel blue.
Seasonal shifts naturally happen in our homeschool days when winter arrives, but if I want our days to continue to go smoothly and for my family to feel our best, a little extra energy and planning is needed on my part. We welcome more time to read and snuggle, but movement, projects, and getting out of the house—even when it’s cold—are a must, too.
1. Brighten Up Your Home
It’s gray and dark outside. You and your people need light! Turn on all the lamps, string sparkle lights, open shades and curtains during midday. Winter calls for cozy evenings, but we need light during the day.
2. Go Outside
Even if it takes you longer to bundle up your kids than the time you stay outside, try to get outdoors a little bit each day. Make snowpeople, have a snowball fight, take a nature walk, look for tracks, fill bird feeders, play tag, get kids out and moving. It will feel good for you, too!
3. Turn Up The Volume
Music, especially upbeat music, is scientifically proven to lighten our moods. Dance, sing, play silly musical games, or keep favorite tunes playing. Make playlists with your kids, show them the old school music videos you loved, or introduce them to your favorite musical soundtracks.
4. Eat Well
Although winter makes us reach for comfort foods, it’s important we don’t overdo the soothing carbs and sweets. Otherwise we’re not going to feel well over the long term. Load up instead on nutrient-dense options:
- soups filled with veggies (pureed if need be)
- roasted veggies lightly coated in maple syrup
- crockpot chili
- rice and beans
- breakfast skillets (with spinach or kale)
5. Exercise Indoors
There are all sorts of ways to get kids moving inside without destroying your home. Yoga, seeing who can run in place the longest, Simon Says, and exercise videos get kids active without the need to suit up in boots and mittens.
6. Find Places to Get Active
Now is the time to head to the indoor trampoline park, open gym days, go rollerskating, bowling, or ice skating. Many places will offer homeschool days or deals. Community centers, the YMCA, and science museums can also be wonderful places to play or take a winter field trip. Meet friends and get your family moving.
Wintertime is an excellent season to offer help. Call food pantries or soup kitchens. Maybe they need help chopping vegetables, sorting, or stacking. There are lots of ways kids can help even if when they’re small.
8. Stick to Your Routine
While it can feel good every once in a while to sleep in and move slowly, a rhythm or routine to the day helps us all feel our best.
9. Get Creative
Is there a hobby your family has always wanted to try? Are the art supplies getting dusty? Have any craft kits you’ve meant to pull out? Even a bin of popsicle sticks and glue can do the trick! Spread newspaper out on your kitchen table and have fun being makers.
10. Connect with Friends
Connection is key to feeling our best. Playdates, co-ops, planned weekly or on the fly can help winter feel a little less bitter. Trade off hosting with other families, take turns watching kids so everyone gets a little break. A change of scenery and time with friends is essential.
Of course, if you or your children are struggling to feel well this winter, seek help. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and common. Homeschooling in the winter can be a challenge, but there are ways we can liven up our homes and make the cold days not feel so hard.
About the Author
Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.
Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.