Make the Most of Winter Homeschooling

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Winter homeschooling – those months between Christmas and spring – can feel neverending. Those months seem to stretch out like a gloomy, monotonous eternity. But it doesn’t have to feel that way! Making a few tweaks can help you learn how to happily homeschool in winter! 

Here we are, mamas! We’ve made it halfway through the school year! (Unless you’re a year-round homeschooler, in which case, bless you. I’m not sure where you are in your homeschool year, but bless you.)

How are you feeling? I’m wondering if you’re feeling a bit sluggish. Or tired. Or maybe totally burned out is a better description.

Just me?

Nah, I didn’t think so.

girl holding house wearing gloves - winter homeschooling

For my family, these post-Christmas homeschooling months can be killer. It’s really hard for me to get back into the swing of things. The holidays have worn me out, the winter blues are hitting, and I don’t feel very motivated to plan super fun lessons or make elaborate plans.

I find myself gravitating towards extremely simple activities. The cold weather makes our days feel a bit slower and gentler as opposed to the rigor of the fun, fresh fall semester.

In the past, I’ve tried to fight against this sluggish feeling. I’ve bucked it and tried to force a more rigorous schedule only to feel discouraged because we weren’t getting finished with everything I had planned. Then I would start the vicious cycle of feeling like a less-than-homeschool mom because we “weren’t getting anything done.”

Anyone feel me?

Somewhere around my ninth year of homeschooling, I finally caught myself before slipping into that train of thought. I finally learned to recognize the ugly cycle before I could beat myself up too badly. And, I figured out how to break it!

Instead of fighting the natural ebb and flow of our homeschooling year, we’ve learned to adapt to winter schooling.

Switching to Winter Homeschooling Mode

Let’s face it. Winter homeschooling looks different than fall homeschooling. In September, we’ve just come off of a long summer break, a long session of planning for the new school year, and plenty of rest. While the first few weeks of summer break were exciting with the extra free time and unstructured days, we’re always ready to get back to the more normal routine of the school year.

With winter homeschooling, we’ve just come off a busy season of holidays, parties, traveling to relatives, and staying up late for seasonal activities. The days are shorter. The weather is colder. It’s not the time to try to go crazy with all the things for school. For us, it’s time to be a bit more relaxed and snuggle up in front of the fireplace with a good book or two. 

book in front of fireplace - winter homeschooling

Following are some of the ways we adapt to keep winter schooling a little more low-key and stress-free until the spring thaw begins to renew our enthusiasm and energy levels. See how many will work for your family.

Tweak the Schedule

First, we change our schedule a bit. Winter can get long and monotonous, so instead of hitting the books first thing each day, we get out of the house and hit the gym a few times a week. Getting out gives us something to look forward to. We get fresh air and everyone burns off some energy at the gym. We start school when we get back home right after lunch.

If the gym isn’t your thing, check to see if there is an indoor playground in your area, or head to the mall for a few laps to burn some energy.

If you have older students, take your books and laptop to a coffee shop a few days a week. Sometimes just a little change of scenery can make a big impact on your energy levels and focus.

Play Games

Board games are a big part of our school in the winter months. While most people’s first thought when they hear the word “games” is entertainment, there are so many educational benefits to playing games! Kids get to practice critical thinking skills, strategy, and cooperation while playing games. Plus, games can improve concentration and focus skills, problem-solving strategies, and improve logic and reasoning skills.

In addition to general board games, many games have been developed to target specific educational goals like math and language skills, understanding of historical events or science concepts, and STEM skills. 

Watch Movies

My family and I love watching movies together. I used to feel like this was a not-so-good thing – like the TV was taboo and not a meaningful way to spend time together. But I feel differently now. I realized that there is educational value to watching a great movie and discussing it together. Plus, a movie can make it much easier to visualize things like historical events or scientific discoveries and the people behind them – even when Hollywood takes a bit of liberty with the facts.


We are reading more than ever right now. It’s dark before dinnertime, and the fire is in full force. It’s the perfect time of year to get a lot of reading done. After dinner and showers, we can snuggle up and enjoy some family reading time together or everyone can bring their own books for some quiet, cozy reading time.

It’s also fun to combine reading with movie-watching! If you’ve got Amazon Prime, check out this list of 100+ books made to movies that you can watch on that platform! After we enjoy a good book together, it’s fun to watch the film adaptation and compare the two. (The book is always better, but the movies are still fun to watch, and you can even make it into an educational activity with this book-to-movie study guide!)

Pare the Schedule

It’s okay to strip your school schedule down to the basics when you need to (and the long, gloomy winter days are when I need to)! 

Right now, our daily basics have us doing math, a language arts lesson, and writing. A few times a week we add in history. Meanwhile, winter-themed study topics add an aspect of unstructured fun to our science time. 

Go on Field Trips

Winter is an excellent time to get out of the house and do some exploring together. It breaks up the monotony and gives us a chance to get some fresh air and do something fun. We try to do at least 2-3 field trips a month during the winter. 

Getting outside in the cold on purpose may not sound like exactly your cup of hot cocoa, but there are so many fun field trips you can do in the winter that aren’t the same during the warmer months. 

kids painting on table - winter homeschooling

Give Interest-Led Learning A Try

Go to the library and let your kids pick some books on topics that interest them. A friend of mine used to have her kids include a biography and a couple of non-fiction books in their library choices each time they visited. There weren’t any other restrictions. They could choose any person or topic they liked. Those are some of the most knowledgeable kids I’ve ever met in my life!

Too often, we think learning has to look a certain way, but the fact is our kids are learning all the time. So, when winter homeschooling, try leaving some interesting-looking books and activities around your house and see what happens when your kids have some time to explore.

That nifty science experiment kit you picked up, but never pulled out? Leave it on the dining room table. Pick up some field guides about birds, animals, or trees native to your area and leave them in an accessible spot. Get out those art supplies that are gathering dust and let your kids create. 

Don’t Feel Bad About A Winter Homeschooling Schedule

There’s no reason to feel bad about cutting back a bit on intensive schooling in the winter. Why? Because I know it won’t be like this forever. Or even for the rest of the school year. I know we’re not “getting behind” because it’s our school. There’s no one for us to compare ourselves to. I know that when the weather starts to warm up, the kids and I will feel more motivated and energized again.

We’ll get outdoors more.

We’ll be jazzed to finish the school year strong.

I know from experience that no one will be damaged from taking it easy for a few months and we’ll actually learn more because of it. Because following the natural rhythm of the seasons means I’m not forcing what’s not there. I’m not pushing the kids or myself when everyone is lacking Vitamin D and feels a bit sluggish. 

It’s okay. It’s Winter Homeschooling, not All the Time Schooling, mamas.

Are you feeling a bit sluggish, too? Stop fighting a pointless battle. Switch to Winter Homeschooling mode for the next few weeks until springtime arrives. You’ll probably be amazed at how some simple modifications can rejuvenate you and your kids. 

Don’t worry, mamas! We’ve got this! Spring will be here soon.

Do you struggle with the winter blues? How do you cope? What changes, if any, do you make in your homeschool? Share your best tips on social media and tag us!

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. We to have kind of slowed down a bit. Because my daughter loves history we are doing that plus math and language arts. We are also reading more and pursuing more arts. My daughter loves to draw so she has been working on learning to draw people better and I have picked up my stained glass tools once again. Being “stuck” inside during the winter makes us want to be more creative I guess.

  2. Thank you for this! It’s my first year homeschooling and I’m DEFINITELY feeling that way right now. I feel so much better now, that it’s not just me!

  3. I’m in Florida, so I don’t deal with the stir-craziness that northern winters bring (though I’m still inclined to stay in on chilly days…), but I still hear you on feeling burned-out and sluggish this time of year. It always feels like we can’t quite find a post-holiday groove, and here we are, halfway through February, still not in a groove. Or at least, not a good one. “Kids try to kill each other post-breakfast while mom desperately tries to finish tea” is something I’d just as soon see us quit, if I could figure out how!

    1. Well, that’s disappointing. That post doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I’ve removed the broken link. Thanks for letting me know!

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