Today was a snow day--well, technically an ice day. My college girls got to stay home, as did my husband. So that long and serious blog post will have to wait.
Several times recently I’ve had some homeschooling friends mention the problem of the Third Quarter Blues. I wrote about it years ago here--essentially it’s the phenomenon where somehow winter and home life and homeschooling all seem to become overwhelming all at once.
That post talks about the phenomenon in more detail, but here I want to share some ideas for breaking up the monotony of the third quarter. While I’m only homeschooling one now, and she’s in high school, I remember those long winter days all too well, and the doubts that come crowding in: should I actually be homeschooling? Are my kids learning everything they need, or anything at all? Will we ever see our living room floor again? and so on.
If this describes where you are right now, especially if you are homeschooling elementary schoolers, perhaps a few of these ideas might help:
1. Have a Theme Day. I told a Facebook friend that a Tropical Day can be fun (blanket picnics, travel or educational videos about tropical islands, island-themed lesson plans, “sunbathing” on towels with umbrellas and a reading assignment, etc.). We did a Space Day and a Dinosaur Day, but really the possibilities are endless--especially in these days of streaming video and free coloring pages!
2. Have a D.E.A.R. day. When I was in “real school” my school did this once, and I LOVED it--because D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read.” While this may work best if you have some avid readers in the home, I think it could be tailored for just about anybody--and what better time t do this than on some bleak February day when cuddling on the couch with some hot chocolate or tea already sounds like a great idea?
3. Have a Game Day. Who says “pin the tail on the donkey” is just for birthday parties? Party games, board games, card games--take your pick, depending on the children’s ages, and let the fun begin! There are some card games out there that involve a bit of math. And if, like me, you get lots of “religious junk mail” with plastic rosaries or angel coins or prayer cards, you can use these to fill a prize basket and sneak a bit of religious education in too! :)
4. Have a Dress Up Day. Here in Texas, dressing up for fun over the summer holidays was never fun--it was Too Darned Hot. But dressing up in the middle of winter on a school day for no particular reason was always fun! Historical figures, literary characters, saints, or even cartoon characters are welcome on a costume day. Some funny word problems during math class can add to the fun (e.g., “If Batman fills the Batmobile’s 20 gallon gas tank, and the Batmobile gets an average of 35 MPG, approximately how far can Batman drive before he’ll need to find a filling station?” etc.)
5. Have a “Home Economics and Management” Day. I saw someone else suggest this, but when I was asking my girls for ideas for this post my oldest daughter also suggested it. The idea is simple: in lieu of regular lessons, you all focus on some basic home economics tasks together--but you have to do them together (not just mom cooking and cleaning while the kids play because that’s called Saturday). All of my girls learned to do their own laundry at age 10, and we did cooking lessons and cleaning lessons as well. Not only is this a great way to kick the winter blues, but it’s a good way for active children to trade a day’s worth of seatwork for practical lessons involving skills they will really need. And the payoffs for Mom are also great--just this weekend, while Thad and I were running errands, the girls decided to clean and declutter the house. There’s nothing like arriving home with a week’s worth of groceries and walking into a sparkling clean living room!
None of these things are designed to replace regular schoolwork and activities, but if the Third Quarter Blues have got you down, you might consider planning a day like one of these (or based on an idea of your own). A change of pace on what is usually a normal school day can do a lot for everybody’s moods and attention spans, and one of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to be creative!