Monday, February 4, 2013

Homeschool Mondays - Surviving February

It's February...again..

I have this theory that we have so many holidays in February because it's the longest month to get through. Don't even talk to me about the number of days on the calendar. I'm pretty sure that it's lying about its "February is the shortest month" schtick. Everyone I know seems to be hitting some sort of imaginary wall. The looming burnout seems to be universal.

The view out my window is a depressing gray brown drab. The charming winter weather of December and January has melted into a gloppy brown muck. Most days, it's too nasty to send the children out to play. They're tired of being cooped up inside, and I'm just about over the noise of their boundless energy inside my house. The books, whose arrival thrilled them last August, have become one more drudgery in our never ending day.

February is hard.

It's the month I most feel like giving up on teaching them at home. It's the month where I question my sanity. After 11 years of this, I know it's not me. It's February.

So how do you get through the month without losing your mind? You dig deep and find things to distract your way through the longest little month of the year.

  • Make this the month for field trips. I know the weather is gross. That's why no one else is going either. Which means that you get the entire museum, theme park (if it's warm enough to be open), or zoo to your self! No pushing to look at the gorillas? Sign me up!
  • Make this I've-been-putting-this-off-until-now month. If you're not fantastically behind, table your regular lesson for a day or two every week. Use those days to do all the gross experiments or elaborate projects that you've been avoiding all year. I know that you don't want to give up your dining room to build a replica of the Battle of Gettysburg out of old shoe boxes and popsicle sticks, but you won't need it until Easter..and Easter will be the perfect excuse to throw that mess away.
  • Make February in-depth learning month. Seize this moment to shake them out of their boredom and really go deep in investigating something of interest to them. Take a vote and have them pick something to do together. You don't want more chaos, you're trying to learn something here! There is nothing quite as energizing as children on a mission. Harness that energy and learn all there is to know about mummies (mummify a's cool), how a girl could be a king (Hatshepsut: His Majesty Herself...great book), Cinderellas from around the world (every major civilization has one), or about the runestone in Oklahoma.
  • Make this the silliest month of the year. There's a reason that schools have pajama day, crazy hair day, or inside out clothing day. It breaks up the monotony. That's what's killing you by this time of the year. The newness has worn off but the end isn't yet in sight. Take a cue from the way the schools so it, sometimes there is a method to their madness, and let your kids' imaginations run wild with a week of silly theme days just before Lent begins.
  • Make this the month you all learn something new, mom included! My children love the idea that I don't know everything. They like even more when they learn things faster than I do. Check out a book or a video on knitting, whittling, bread baking or whatever strikes your fancy and learn it together. The idea that learning doesn't stop when you're a grown up is a very valuable lesson.
  • Make this the month you all learn your family's history. Send off letters to grandparents and distant relations asking all kinds of questions about the kind of people who make up your family tree. Make writing them and reading them a group activity. Research and discovery are thrilling, and there's nothing kids like to know about more than themselves!
It's all about busyness and activity. Busy minds and busy bodies don't get into trouble. There's sanity on the other end of a busy day. There's joy in doing things together. You can make it through February, it just takes a little extra effort to make it all the way to March.


Abigail said...

Love this. Thank you!

Beth said...

Love it too! I'm learning about photography :)
M is getting really into drawing.
JP is finally learning a thing or two about letters.
L somehow learned ALL his letters without me doing a thing. and hopefully...
S can learn how to take a nap during school :)

MargoB said...

Hi Rebecca,

Your post made me think of Peter Mayer's song "Longest Night," which sometimes helps me get through winter.

Here's a link:


Packrat said...

Great ideas!

Sebastian said...

February is not a short month. All the other months are long.