How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout

Go away rain! Come back another day
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A canopy of grey clouds stretches across the sky and a blanket of snow covers the ground. It’s not the crisp, blindingly white snow made popular by the greeting card industry, though. It’s the dirty grey snow that’s been trampled and driven through, mixed with salt from treated roadways.

Inside, your children are restless (and so are you). Spring -- and a break from the mundane cold -- seem so far away and the curriculum about which you were so excited last September now seems to mock you with its many pages still to be finished.

Sound familiar? You're dealing with homeschool burnout.

It doesn’t matter if you call it homeschool burnout, cabin fever, or the winter blues -- the restlessness, discouragement, and sometimes even depression that accompany it are the same. For some, a game-changer for avoiding this seasonal phenomenon is switching to a year-round homeschooling schedule, but that may not be feasible for everyone. Luckily, there are other ways to stay motivated as the homeschool teacher and banish homeschool burnout.

Switch up the Curriculum

One of the unexpected benefits from a complete mid-year curriculum change is that you are set up to reset the new year’s curriculum each January. This offsets the boredom that often contributes to homeschool burnout by giving you a completely new curriculum to look forward to each winter.

You may not be able to make a complete curriculum change, but sometimes adding one or two fun electives can stave off the winter blues. You might also try tweaking your curriculum just a bit to breathe new life into the remainder of your homeschool year.

Plan a Spring Fair

An enjoyable way to break up the monotony of winter is to plan a spring education fair. While working on your fair topic, you may spend the mornings on core work or anything that can't set aside for a few weeks, but leave your afternoons free to delve into your spring fair topic with a unit study approach.

Spending afternoons studying something completely different than our regular curriculum is sure to bring a refreshing sense of excitement to winter school days.

Some interesting spring fair ideas include:

  • People and Places
  • Famous Inventors
  • The United States
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography

There are so many possibilities. Spend some time brainstorming with your homeschool support group, if you have one, to find the topics that will generate the most excitement for your families.

Get Outside

It may be cold (or snowy, rainy or all of the above), but fresh air and sunshine (when possible) can do wonders for cabin fever. Try some of these outdoor activity ideas:

  • A winter scavenger hunt
  • Nature study
  • Ice skating
  • Sledding
  • Have a campfire
  • Feed the birds or the ducks at a local pond
  • Blow bubbles and see how the cold affects them

Even taking the family dog for a walk or making a quick circle around the block can rejuvenate your body and mind.

Create a Change of Scenery

Sometimes simply breaking away from the ordinary makes a world of difference. Teach school on a blanket in the living room -- bonus points if there's a fire and hot cocoa involved. Go study at the library or a coffee shop.

Or, get some physical activity by visiting an indoor playground, rock climbing facility, trampoline park, or skating rink. Indoor heated pools make a nice break from the winter cold and gloom, too.

Take a Break

Many public schools (mainly in the Northeast) around the US have a winter break week in addition to a holiday break in December. You can build in a break week for around the middle of February, as well. Even if you don’t have time for an entire week, a long weekend can be a stress-reliever. Create some family fun with activities such as:

  • A movie or video game marathon
  • Read some new books
  • Nerf gun wars or a snowball fight with balled-up socks

Taking a few simple steps to break up the monotony of long winter days indoors can help you avoid homeschool burnout, which doesn’t have to be inevitable, and finish your school year with purpose.