How to Defeat the February Doldrums
February can be a slog. It’s cold. Winter feels as if it has stretched on forever. The crisp freshness of September fades into the bleak midwinter, and we are all tired of school. Spring is so close and yet so very, very far away.
In an effort to fight our traditional February slump, I’ve decided to try some new things this year. I hope these ideas will be a springboard for your own winter adventures!
- Move your homeschool area to a different part of the house.
We have always done school downstairs in our dining room. Originally, this was because my baby daughter would sit in her high chair, feed herself, and generally make an epic mess while I taught my oldest. Now she is two and half years old and hasn’t sat in her high chair in a long time so we no longer need to be bound to that constraint.
The upstairs of our house is warmer than the downstairs so relocating school to an upstairs bedroom made the experience more comfortable for all parties involved. I moved all of our current school books along with our beloved three-tier school cart. The novelty also seemed to keep us more on task.
If changing rooms isn’t an option, you could try rearranging the furniture. We have a kids’ sized table and chairs that we moved to another area. I also created a reading nook with a husband pillow and some cozy blankets.
- Begin an interest-led project.
We follow a fairly structured curriculum in general, but we enjoy supplementing with a fun project every now and then. What better time than February? My six year old son is fascinated with birds right now. I recently discovered the free Merlin Bird ID app, which allows you to record bird calls and songs. Once you upload your recording, the app will identify the bird for you. My kids think this is the coolest thing. (To be honest, I also think it’s the coolest thing!) Even if birds aren’t around in the winter in your climate, you could enjoy this series of bird books. My boys spend hours looking at them.
Perhaps your children are interested in something else. Ask them if they have any ideas. You just might spark someone’s passion project.
- Take a field trip.
February is a great time for a trip to a museum. I’ve planned a visit to one that is about 45 minutes away from our house. It’s in a town we don’t usually visit so it’ll be a good way to mix things up. In my area, we have a science museum, a history museum, an art museum, and a couple of children’s museums. Planetariums can also be a fun source of educational enrichment in the winter.
- Have some inexpensive fun and be cozy.
My kids each received a new fuzzy blanket for Christmas. They cuddle up on the couch with their blankets and just enjoy the warmth on some frosty mornings. Hot chocolate is also a simple pleasure that adds a bit of pizzazz. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
- Mix up the routine.
We recently started taking a break midmorning to eat a snack and listen to an audiobook. Many libraries allow you to check out audiobooks via the Libby app, which is convenient for busy families. We like The Mouse and the Motorcycle series by Beverly Cleary, The Boxcar Children, and James Herriot’s Treasury for Children. My kids enjoy the break, and I enjoy having a few moments to switch over some laundry.
Routines are useful tools, but they do need to be tweaked periodically. Ultimately, this year I’m striving to lean into the natural ebbs and flows of the school year. There is a time for extended outdoor play and a time for burrowing into a blanket. There is a time for going on a lot of field trips and a time for focusing on the less glamorous moments at home. We do more book work when the weather is oppressively hot or bitterly cold. These things are good and right, and together they make for a balanced school year.
But even more than a balanced school year, we need balanced lives. We are not only homeschool teachers, but also mothers and also souls. As you plan out your February, consider what brings you and your children joy. Try to incorporate those things when you can, be it savory soups, museum jaunts, or a re-read of The Long Winter.
And remember – everyone wants to give up in February. Don’t give up.
I’m cheering you on.
Laura McKinney Adams is a wife and mother of three. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University. While at Liberty, she met her husband, who is a fellow homeschool graduate. She writes about classical education, lifelong learning for moms, and homeschooling the early years at lauramckinneyadams.com.