Mid-Year Motivation

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Got the mid-winter blahs? You are not alone!

Maybe you’re having trouble getting back on track after the holidays — you may need to re-visit your daily routine. Many moms find that having a household routine and their daily learning goals or lesson plans in writing gives them accountability, as well as built-in reminders.

If you overplanned (or planned a little too optimistically!), this is a perfect time to re-evaluate and make adjustments. Or maybe you had great plans at the start of the school year, but life broadsided your homeschool — Homeschool-NewYork offers help to those trying to re-establish “normal.”

Did you resolve to add some spark and fun to your learning lifestyle? A few ideas:

  • Tamara Eaton suggests adding an exciting read-aloud to start off the morning, or some “penny math” drills to liven things up.
  • Sign up your family to receive daily grammar nuggets, a vocabulary word of the day (elementary  or junior high), or homeschool freebies via e-mail.
  • Plan a short, budget-friendly family trip or field trip to excite your children about an upcoming topic.
  • Learn with games in your homeschool.
  • Focus a lesson or two on a holiday each month to extend that holiday anticipation and excitement throughout the school year.

Stuck inside?

Creation Illustrated  is a colorful, 68-page nature magazine for the whole family, with Bible-based nature lessons, activities and puzzles, plus a homeschoolers’ instructional guide in every edition to help you teach character-building lessons from nature.

If winter storms have kept the family inside, be sure to keep moving. A pedometer is a fun motivation for kids to measure their movement, and you can work on graphing and other math skills at the same time! Skip-counting videos or audios combine multiplication drill and aerobic exercise (and help burn a bit of that excess cabin-fever energy). Even letting the children progress up or down the stairs or across the room for each correct answer to an oral quiz or drill can be a productive physical outlet and change of pace.

Even though this year isn’t a winter Olympics year, you could still organize your own version of a family Olympics-style competition. This can be a stand-alone event or part of an Olympics unit study. Tricia at Hodgepodge.me  has not only a great list of Olympic-themed unit study resources and activities, but Olympic-themed art lessons!

I asked a few moms what they do on a wow-it’s-cold-outside snow day:

  • My kids love to make snow ice cream.  (Jennie)
  • We read The Long Winter and Farmer Boy—they have lots of good winter stories! (Debra)
  • Cook, clean, and bake. I don’t know about specialties, but I just tend to do more of it. This morning I’ve made fried rice with eggs over-easy, and I’m planning on potato soup* with ham, focaccia*, and brownies.* And homemade hot chocolate! We’ll see what else strikes my fancy. I think it’s because the snow makes me feel cozy, which in turn, makes me feel domestic. (Vanessa)
  • Warm cider with a cinnamon stick after they come in from playing in the snow. Ginger muffins. Chili/soup.stew weather! Reading out loud. (Mrs. S.)
  • I like to look out … and take photos. When my kids were younger, with the right kind of snow…good flakes….we’d go outside with pieces of black or blue construction paper (I’d put them in the freezer before we went out) and go on a snowflake hunt, with magnifying glasses. (Debra)
  • Hot chocolate, blanket, movie. (Claire)
  • I made an egg casserole* for breakfast for the first time this morning. It made it feel like a special day. (Susan)

  • We made waffles* with blueberries….yummy! (Debbie)
  • Go outside with my son, pull him around in the sled or sled with him, make snow angels, have snowball fights, build a snowman, then go inside and make hot cocoa and watch a movie together. (Gayle)
  • We’re watching YouTube videos on how to make soap. (Allison)
  • Walking the dogs in the snow. It’s great to witness their complete and utter happiness.
  • Sledding! Don’t have a sled? We’ve used a large piece of cardboard, Rubbermaid bin lid, plastic rabbit cage trays, or a big scoop shovel. [And there’s always the trash can lid!] (Mrs. S.)
  • Family movie day here! (Shea)
  • We’ve been watching the Olympics. And lots of retro TV–Little House on the Prairie, Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. (Heather)
  • My guys like to make an igloo, harden it with water, and spend a night camping in it! (Vanessa)
  • We played Boggle and Bananas, took pictures of birds and squirrels and family outside, and baked oatmeal cookies.*

What if it’s not a cold day—just a blah day?

Whether you are shoveling out of several feet of snow or breaking out the flip-flops, taking a “snow day” can be just the respite you need to refresh your homeschooling. A few of our fellow moms share what keeps them going:

  • Field trips (Claire)
  • Reading the Bible always lifts my mood! (Sarah)
  • Get outside even for just 15-20 minutes. Go when hubby gets home if you have little ones. Bundle up, take an umbrella if it’s raining—whatever it takes. Just get outside and move every day! (Suzanne)
  • I tried to toss in a “pick your own unit” study mid-year, to give them a break and let them explore something of interest to them as part of their school day. One year we ended up with one studying roses, another the history of ballet, one horses, and one did a whole unit on chocolate (that was a yummy final project!). (Vicki)
  • A unit study on how they lived in a particular era. Lots of hands-on activities! (Mrs. S.)

  • A whole day dedicated to art. Depending on their age, they could read about a particular artist and reproduce one of the artist’s works of art. Lots of crafty art projects, i.e. Perler beads, necklaces, paint bird houses…. (Jill)
  • We take a day off and do something fun…………then it is back to the books. I also remind her that when everyone else is still in school in June, we will be done, honest, we will! (Debbie)
  • Mix it up with a fun unit study – on a topic we’ve wanted to study. Right now we are doing Winter Games 2014 by Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett along with our regular sort of learning. And, of course, art always cheers—and getting outside on scooters, going for a walk, too. (Tricia)
  • Baking activities/ sewing. Young men can look up when to prune and begin to ready the flower beds( which is usually end of Feb)……..time for home economics (Shea)
  • We count up all the pages left, come up with a mathematical formula of how many pages must be done daily, and press forward to finish by April 31st. Then it’ll be off to field trips when it’s warm! (Allison)
  • We take random days off to do something different. Maybe a few days out of town to visit a relative or friend. (Debbie)

Whatever your plans or goals, may you find strength, patience, provision, and joy in the Lord who has called you to home discipleship of your precious children. And enjoy this season—spring will be here before you know it!

“Extol the LORD, Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. . . .  He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.”                          Psalm 147:12-18 (NIV)


*For recipes for Susan’s egg casserole, Debbie’s waffles, and other family-friendly snow-day meals and treats, check out Everyday Cooking.



Adapted from a newsletter by this author, previously published at hslda.org

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