Fact: nearly every homeschooler wants to quit in February. School is dull, people are dull, even the sunlight is dull. It’s a hard time of year.

As veteran homeschoolers, Darren and I have strategies for getting through February. The first thing we do is switch up school. We keep the essentials (math and reading always stay on the lesson plan) but set aside subjects that we can catch up on in March. The lighter load alleviates some pressure and gives us some extra time to do things a little differently.

But how to fill up that extra time? Well, I’ve listed a few suggestions below. It took me a week to come up with this list. Have I mentioned that this is a hard time of year?

  1. Have your students choose a significant African American to study for Black History Month and report on him/her at the end of the month. You can tailor the lesson for your children’s ages; obviously an 8-year-old won’t be writing an essay with citations. Our youngest is 11, so the reports will range anywhere from a detailed poster, to a PowerPoint presentation, to a piece of art in tribute to the chosen person.
  2. Make time for some extracurricular activities. Darren has a few science kits lined up for this month.
  3. Get some sunshine. Even fifteen minutes in the sun is better than none at all.
  4. Fifteen minutes? How about a day’s hike! The exercise and sunshine will rejuvenate your soul.
  5. Oh, a hike isn’t your thing? Take a family drive listening to music or an audiobook. You all get a change of scenery without worrying about mud or social distancing!
  6. Make paper snowflakes, assuming you live in a place that doesn’t already have more than enough snow. This Martha Stewart tutorial provides step-by-step instructions, including how to cut the folded paper to achieve certain effects.  (I am absolutely sure that Martha Stewart makes paper snowflakes to decorate her house every single February, so you should do it too.)
    • Bonus activity if you have a kid under the age of 4: with a pair of child-friendly scissors, your child can snip paper scraps until your carpet is covered with homemade confetti.
    • Bonus bonus activity! Your child can learn to use the vacuum.
  7. Speaking as one homeschooling parent to another, put off any major self-improvement campaigns for now. Midwinter is not the time to decide that you’ll speak only positive thoughts, go meatless, or that your children will develop a love for biographies. Just keep up the essentials of loving your family and loving yourself, and wait for spring for character upgrades.
  8. Try a new tea. Even better—team up with a few friends and exchange teas by mail.
  9. Brew several teas and have a family tasting session. Rate everyone’s opinions.
  10. If tea isn’t your thing, have you heard of ground cacao beans that you brew in a French press like coffee?
  11. Older children can fend off the winter blues by setting a long-term goal for a video game. Sparkler (14) is working up to defeating the Enderdragon in Minecraft. Ranger (11) is trying to beat Plants vs Zombies 3.
  12. Make time for hobbies. In our house, this includes puzzles, writing stories, planning and cooking special meals, playing long and complicated board games that stay set up in a corner the entire month, completing a small cross-stitch pattern each evening, video games, and chatting online with friends and family.
    • Bonus! Perhaps by next February, I’ll figure out what to do with a large collection of random cross-stitched pictures.
  13. Redecorate somehow. This doesn’t have to involve repainting entire rooms, although I did do that two years ago. Small changes can be fun, too.
    • Sparkler has created homemade “wall stickers” from her own art and packaging tape. (She stuck them on her wall before I realized it involved packaging tape, so next time she’ll mount her stickers with painter’s tape.)
    • I hung white string lights in the living room for a warmer, more festive atmosphere.
  14. Get lost in a new book series. Need recommendations? Ask for suggestions from your friends online. People love making book recommendations. You’ll have social interaction all day!
  15. Find a new online show and recreate a pre-internet vibe by watching just one episode per week. (If you manage to stretch it out that long, let me know.)
  16. Two shows we watched which we think can be enjoyed as a family:
    • Disney’s The Mandalorian, Season One (We haven’t watched Season Two yet, so no official recommendation there.)
    • Netflix’s Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
  17. Play Mad Libs. They’re hilarious and also reinforce basic parts of speech.
  18. Earbuds. Earbuds for everyone in the family. They create virtual rooms and give us space as we’re all stuck inside together.
  19. Write a letter, mail a letter, maybe get a letter back!
    • In fact, send a card or write a letter to me, and I’ll write back:
      Sara Jones c/o Darren Jones
      Home School Legal Defense Association

      PO Box 3000
      Purcellville, VA 20134

  20.  Get the essentials done, but otherwise just hibernate during these short, cold winter days. You’ll be productive and creative again soon enough. Spring is coming

For those of you weathering February with small children, click over to Jessica's ideas for indoor activities for the younger crowd.

—Sara

Photo credit: iStock