By Cassie Espich, Off-Campus Program Advisor
Here in Michigan, the leaves are falling from the trees, the days are getting shorter, and the air is brisk. Autumn has arrived, which only means that winter is not too far away! December will be here in a few short weeks, and with it usually comes freezing temperatures, heavy snow, and the prospect of months indoors.
Even if you don’t live in a climate that has winter like we do, many homeschooling families find themselves falling into a mid-year slump around this time; they’ve gotten into a good routine with their school work and studies, but the routine has begun to seem boring.
Have you played all the games, done all the activities, or gone on all the field trips that are in your regular bag of tricks, and are now finding that your students are getting restless? Whether you’re stuck inside because of weather or stuck in a routine that needs some spice, the following tips can help you make it through the next few months.
Tip #1: Get out of the house and into a museum.
You might have thought you’ve gone and seen and done it all, but there still might be a museum, gallery, or fun place that you have yet to discover. Finding a museum or similar indoor activity can be great on days when you just don’t want to be out in the rain or cold (or heat!). Check out these links to find museums near you:
- Museum.com lets you search for museums around the world.
- The “Find a Museum” section of the Great Museums Television website provides a list of U.S. museums by state and location.
- MuseumsUSA.org includes a search box to help you find local museums anywhere in the United States.
Tip #2: Expand your network.
Remember, you’re not alone! There might be other families near you who are also looking for things to do. As homeschooling becomes more popular, families are coming together to form local homeschooling groups and co-ops. Many of these groups have classes for students, but many more are for the sole purpose of getting out of the house to meet and play with other kids. Use these links to find a group near you:
- Homeschool Organizations and Support Groups from Homeschool World
- Homeschool Organizations from HSLDA
- Local Homeschooling Resources from The Home School Mom, which is a great resource for learning more about homeschooling in your area.
- Local HS, which provides links to different types of support like tutors and mentors as well as groups and co-ops.
- Secular Homeschool Support Groups by Country and State (Note: Although this list shows secular-only groups, you shouldn’t feel deterred from joining a group if it has a religious affiliation. Many religious-based groups love to have any family join, regardless of the family’s beliefs.)
- Homeschool Support Groups, a comprehensive list from Ann Zeise that includes groups around the world, not just the United States!
Tip #3: Go outside anyway!
It’s commonly known now that playing outside in the winter is good for kids in many ways. Letting kids play outside in the winter helps build their immune system, gives them much needed exercise, and also allows them to absorb plenty of vitamin D. The following resources offer a number of ideas to keep you busy:
- Peak Fitness outlines the reasons why it’s beneficial to get outside (for everyone, not just kids!), and provides tips on how to prepare for being in harsh weather and knowing when it might be too cold.
- The National Wildlife Foundation has created a document to help parents feel confident with playing outdoors (PDF) no matter the weather. The NWF also has a searchable site that helps you find activities by keyword.
- NAEYC shares many good ideas for how to engage your child in outdoor play. This group mainly provides resources for younger children, but many of the ideas are applicable to all ages.
- The Natural Learning Initiative, from North Carolina State University, has created a list of activities to do in different types of weather.
Does your family live in a cold-winter climate (in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere) that makes you feel like you’d rather stay inside? Or do you find your student falling into the mid-year slump?
Please share your ideas of what you do to keep things interesting at this time of year.