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So, how do you survive the homeschool February blues?


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I've decided that I "deserve" an additional cup of coffee in the early afternoon.  Up from my one large cup in the morning. This may become an issue at some point if I keep upping that total each year.   I have 10 years left of homeschooling.  By the end of it all, I will be drinking only coffee as my liquid.  May as well be intravenous. 

 

So, how do you all cope?

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Last year we went somewhere warmish for the month of Feb.  That was wonderful.  We took no schoolwork but visited tons of museums and art galleries, walked for hours and hours each day, experimented with new foods at restaurants, rented bikes and swam for hours at local pools, and checked out a lot of neat nature things related to being near an ocean.

 

This year we are taking two weeks off formal schoolwork but during those weeks we are working on baking, doing a bunch of craft kits the kids have received as gifts, ditto science experiment kits, and learning to machine sew.  I am also taking these two weeks to plan some new stuff for history and science.

 

Today is day 1 of our two weeks off and I feel way better already.  The kids also played with each other for 4 hours today without fighting, and that was huge.  So I think they also need this reset.

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Like Raifta, I'm on break this week. I'm working through my tentative curriculum list, getting prices, deciding what little extras I want to get for myself.

And drinking too much caffeine. Have to say, having a day off today was nice. I researched, drank my hot tea, tended my cozy fire, entertained the kitten by hurling paper wads around the house, listened to the boys read their stories to me, ate chocolate and had a great time.

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Coffee, nice teas, going on a trip with Dh and the kids over President's Day. I also try to listen to any podcasts, WTM summer conference or SWB talks that I have archived. They help a lot with re-focusing! We're also usually sick this time of year anyway, so we're forced to have some easier days. Lately, I love bringing the girls to the library and just sitting there and reading for an hour or two. Reading the college acceptance thread on the High School Board also helps me when I'm in a "the sky is falling" downhill spiral.  :blush:

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We are taking this week off. This is the time of year that I decide to try a new schedule that will hopefully bring more balance to our days. This year I've plotted out a year round, four weeks on, one week off (and a couple of two week breaks) schedule to take us through 2016. I'm feeling very optimistic about it. I feel so relaxed today and am looking forward to doing this every every four weeks. I'm using the week to catch up on things around the house, get some extra rest, read, and think ahead to the future of our homeschool - everything from months to years away.

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More coffee. Always, more coffee. I like the IV drip idea.

 

I start to plan and dream about what we'll be doing, one to three years ahead. I back up and sketch out the Big Picture.

 

I send the kids outside to sled in the snow, while I organize a small space, like a closet or drawer or the refrigerator. Even organizing just a small space feels like progress.

 

Funday Mondays (or Fun Fridays) -- We only do group work, and we only do the fun stuff. So, we end up doing things like JBQ, Bible reading (they love this), History Book Basket read alouds, Science quizzes (go figure, they love these), anything related to maps (we're studying African geography this year, plus USA review), Handicrafts (crocheting, knitting, embroidery, hand sewing), Games, Chess (we have a DVD course), Book Club read alouds, Cocoa Classics (make & drink cocoa, take turns reading children's classics), Poetry Teas (make & drink tea, take turns reading poetry), take a hike, anything Science, Artist Study or Composer Study (love this), anything Art (adore), watch DVDs that relate in some way to our studies (for the really sleepy days).

 

We take naps a few afternoons per week, especially in winter, usually from 3:00 pm to around 5:00 pm. The girls still actually need one or two naps a week to function well. Naps are good, more people need them than take them!

 

I've also realized recently that the days go better when we get up really early (for us), even if it's still a bit dark. But the mornings are lighter now than they were in December, and the sunrises are so beautiful. The quality of light in the morning is more energizing (at least for me it is). It doesn't even matter if we "get started" earlier, just that we are awake and up and moving towards our work.

 

I also think it's okay to have variations in productivity, creativity, efficiency, discipline, and renewal.

 

One other thing that helps me with the February "blahs" in relation to homeschooling is to not focus on it exclusively, but to turn my attention to other aspects of life -- my husband, my health, the family's health, our finances, our home improvement projects, activities and events coming up, birthdays, anniversaries, my parents, our church, our work schedules, pets, vacation plans, and so on. By discussing with my husband and thinking about these other things, by putting thought and energy there, I feel more focused (in general), more "put together" in all the areas of life. So then I can know that those things are being effectively addressed and managed -- that we have a whole-life plan, not just a hit-or-miss-but-let's-keep-homeschooling plan -- and I can relax into homeschooling with the reassurance that it is still working for us all, overall.

 

And, I try to watch that my bedtime doesn't keep creeping up later and later. ;)

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I used to take February and plan for the upcoming school year.  Shiny!  New!  Now, my youngest is 8 and I've done her grade twice.  I have curriculum that works and I like it enough that I don't want to change.  My biggest planning session has been trying to figure out what my upcoming 10th grader will be doing and trying to get him to finish driver's ed so he can get his permit so he can have a picture id so he can take a test for the community college so we can figure out if he's ready for college classes next year.  How fun is that?!?!  Who can really get excited about an Advanced Composition class?  Ooohhh! Look!  A giant Calculus textbook!  So not fun and new and shiny!

 

I have thought how nice a 4 week on, 1 week off schedule would be, but we have always lived in a more northern climate, so summer is the only time we can spend having extended time outside.  Summer becomes a much needed break for all of us.  So, I plug away.  This is what I've chosen.

 

I have noticed as I am "not planning" how much new fun stuff there is for the younger grades.  But again, I like what we have and notice that every time I make a change to the essentials, I never like them as much.  Maybe this is my new February rut...No planning for next year because it's mostly done (rinse, repeat) and just get a little snarky and say "shiny" a lot.

 

Edited by bethben
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I used to take February and plan for the upcoming school year. Shiny! New! Now, my youngest is 8 and I've done her grade twice. I have curriculum that works and I like it enough that I don't want to change. My biggest planning session has been trying to figure out what my upcoming 10th grader will be doing and trying to get him to finish driver's ed so he can get his permit so he can have a picture id so he can take a test for the community college so we can figure out if he's ready for college classes next year. How fun is that?!?! Who can really get excited about an Advanced Composition class? Ooohhh! Look! A giant Calculus textbook! So not fun and new and shiny!

 

I have thought how nice a 4 week on, 1 week off schedule would be, but we have always lived in a more northern climate, so summer is the only time we can spend having extended time outside. Summer becomes a much needed break for all of us. So, I plug away. This is what I've chosen.

 

I have noticed as I am "not planning" how much new fun stuff there is for the younger grades. But again, I like what we have and notice that every time I make a change to the essentials, I never like them as much. Maybe this is my new February rut...No planning for next year because it's mostly done (rinse, repeat) and just get a little snarky and say "shiny" a lot.

Yeah, summer...I'm not completely sure how the 4 on/1 off thing is going to go. We live up north too and love summer. I did plan one of our two-week breaks for mid summer. I'm also planning to lighten up on school for June-August so that we can be done by lunch and spend the afternoons at the beach or pool. Right now I'm playing around with a summer plan of daily math and interest-led history and science. If I have the older 2 write about their science and history picks, have the younger 2 read to me daily, and add in a few read alouds, I think we can have a decent summer of school while still having time to enjoy the great weather. We'll see though. I'm still thinking about it.

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I need to get out and exercise this week. Feeling jittery (no doubt from the caffeine) and I have running shoes to break in. I also want to spend part of tomorrow with the music blasting while I write. It's not all planning. At some point I want to watch a few movies that I haven't had time to watch. I've spent much of the weeks leading up to this one reading at night the books that I have been trying to get to but just didn't find time. So I do "me" stuff on my break weeks. I work every weekend, and we start our school week on Sunday so these little breaks are all I've got to keep my creative energies fed. IMO, it's just as important to plan stuff for yourself. It could be anything that you enjoy that will help you to relax, or things that give you energy, or things that stimulate your mind. 

 

ETA: And if that fails for me there is always hot chocolate and planning a summer vacation, which I won't be able to take because of work and elderly critters that need me home, but it still fun to think about!

Edited by Critterfixer
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So far to battle February we:

 

1) took a Friday off this month (already).

2) did an art project (art always gets dropped by now)

3) scheduled a field trip for month end

4) made one small curriculum change (new, shiny...yay!)

 

I'd love to hear more about the podcasts/seminars that any of you find encouraging/helpful. I've listened to one by SWB on writing in the early years, but I'd love to have some specific suggestions for more.

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I haven't really had them this year (I think it's that winter has been mild -- even that three foot snow two weeks ago melted quickly -- but if today's snow sticks around, it may become another story), but my cure is always to start planning for next year. Next year I will finally get it all Just Right, and it'll be the Perfect Homeschool Year. Right??

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Dd will be graduating next year, a year earlier than we had planned :eek:

 

We are also waiting to hear if she has been accepted for a free, language-immersion, study-abroad program for this summer. Edited to share link since I first learned about the program here: http://www.nsliforyouth.org

 

So together we are:

--talking about course choices for next year

--coming up with Plans B and C for this summer

--trying to figure out when/if she'll be able to take free drivers ed through the state this summer

--working through ACT/SAT/SAT subject test date planning and prep

--creating a college list

--researching merit aid and scholarships

--visiting colleges (another one on Monday!)

--obsessing on the new PSAT National Merit Semifinalist cutoff for our state (oh wait, that's just me ;))

 

and still working on her classes with me, her outsourced online English class, and the university Arabic class.

 

You know, we're keeping busy :D

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The weather is pretty here. It makes us want to sit out on our backyard porch and enjoy the sun.

 

Also, buying new curriculum helps. ;) I've added some fun things to do with my 4 year old. Some kits and things.

I also switched my 13 yr olds history to something more relaxed. She was getting stressed out.

I've added a few nice shiny things to my 9 yr old ds so that was fun.

My 11 yr old daughter added some extra curriculars recently, so that's fun.

Edited by Peacefulisle
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This is my first real year of homeschooling (kindergarten) but I also experience the February blues in my regular life.

 

Firstly, this will be my third year of training for and running a half marathon. It's great to have a goal in the spring and I've started a running group at our church which is nice. We do our long runs together. It gets us outside in the fresh (cold) air when we would normally be stuck inside.

 

Second, I've been planning for next year homeschooling first grade and preschool. I'm very excited about all the stuff we will do together, so that keeps me going.

 

Third, I always take this time when we can't do much outside and organize and clean and get rid of stuff. It keeps us busy and I love the feeling of a nice clean space.

 

Lastly, I talk to my sister on the phone almost every day. We motivate and encourage each other.

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DS is a HS freshman.  It has been on my mind since about last spring to write preliminary course descriptions, but I never got around to it.  I wrote the first draft last week, and was amazed at how accomplished it made me feel!  :)  Instead of all the "we didn't get to X this week," my focus was "look at all the cool stuff we've done!"

 

Last year we were able to take off quite a bit of time in Feb., but this year, with two online classes, it won't happen.  We *might* get to squeeze 2 or 3 days ... but even that feels like it would put us in a bad position.  So we'll probably just keep chugging along.  I *really* want to finish by the end of May, so I keep my eyes on that goal.

 

 

 

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We're doing a 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule, so next week we're ditching letting DS go spend a week with my parents. Which coincidentally means I get a whole week to myself! Crazy talk :)

 

I plan to sew, and read, and spin, and knit, and not think about improper fractions or linking verbs or the American Revolution at all. 

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We usually make a curriculum change or add some extra projects in...it doesn't have to be a major change to be effective.  Even adding in a board game time can help!  DD jokes about how many schedules we have during the year, so I often mix up our order of subjects when I need a change.  

 

We just got a family gym membership, so we are planning on swimming once a week...although I imagine it won't happen every week.  We try to get out on the weekends as a family.  Fishing, sledding, canoeing, gardening, eating out, or even just regular shopping can get us out of the house.  DH works mostly from home, so he needs this break too.  

 

I was attempting an "outdoor hour" from 3-4, but it takes at least 30 minutes to get everyone out the door in the middle of winter!  This will be much easier once we can lose the gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, snow pants, boots & coats.  Our outdoor time has been greatly lacking this winter, and I know that effects our moods.

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Try borrowing a puppy for a couple weeks. It will be insanity and fun, and then you can send it home and be especially thankful for a quiet house again.  :laugh:

 

We are boarding a puppy for a week, and the energy and excitement level is intense. It does a wonder with what is perceived as "the blues," I tell ya. ;)

Edited by wintermom
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Had been on IV drips too many painful times. A friend stockpiles caffeine tablets. I'm already guzzling more than 6 mugs of coffee per day.

 

February is not as bad as January for me because major spring cleaning is done for chinese new year so my home is less messy. However flowers are blooming so hay fever is looming. This year we have to hide in the nearby library everyday as our condo complex is undergoing renovations so dusty and noisy.

 

I'm rearranging furniture in my head and watching Ikea makeovers on YouTube to entertain myself. Have to wait until after the chinese new year is over to declutter more due to traditions about not getting rid of items during new year season.

 

It is already hot weather here in California. Sun blocks are already in use.

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Take a day (or three) for masterly activity. This is so key for me! When I feel like I just need a break and my grouchy mom self is showing up, I declare a day of masterly activity. I usually assign some skeletal school that my younger two can do on their own but for the most part, they are free to engage in free-time, profitable, non-screen activities. Everyone's happy. 

 

And second in important is a staycay retreat day. It helps me think my own thoughts, get some perspective, remember my vision and reinvigorate to get back in the game. Or trenches.  :tongue_smilie:

 

 

Try borrowing a puppy for a couple weeks. It will be insanity and fun, and then you can send it home and be especially thankful for a quiet house again.  :laugh:

 

We are boarding a puppy for a week, and the energy and excitement level is intense. It does a wonder with what is perceived as "the blues," I tell ya. ;)

 

 

We'll be trying this at the end of the week. Dd is fostering 2 puppies and she's bringing them home. That's gonna do wonders for some kids and me? I'll just use their distraction to quietly slip off with a book. :D

 

 

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We'll be trying this at the end of the week. Dd is fostering 2 puppies and she's bringing them home. That's gonna do wonders for some kids and me? I'll just use their distraction to quietly slip off with a book. :D

 

Yes, in the sense that if you thought your life was a little dull and needed some kind of boost, you'll be happy to have the old "dull" life back again! 

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We went straight through the summer and took Thanksgiving through mid January off.

 

It's interesting. I have no use whatsoever for the buy it now button. I've been able to shed curriculum clutter like so much dead skin and put more creativity into the basics and using what we already have.

 

The down side is that I have to figure out the review myself since it's not built into the beginning of the book at the sneaking suspicion that I'm just postponing the inevitable and I'm going to have zero peer support for February Blues when it hits at a completely inappropriate time.

Edited by Guest
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I'm due with my fourth at the end of the month and baby preparations are keeping the February blues at bay quite nicely. :) Not an approach I plan to use every year...!

My third will be here in the very beginning of March! We are taking all of March off so because of that we've been go go go. Usually we would have had a break around now.

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In honor of the February blues, I thought I'd share a paragraph from a book about medieval France I was reading tonight (The Strangled Queen, by Maurice Druon):

 

"February is undoubtedly the most difficult month in a year of scarcity. The last supplies from the previous autumn are exhausted, and so is the physical and mental resilience of human beings. Cold is joined to hunger. It is the month which has the highest death rate. People despair of ever seeing the spring again; in some despair becomes despondency and in others turns to hatred. As the road to the cemetery becomes familiar, everyone begins to wonder when his own turn will come."

 

See, my friends? People have been hating on February for 1000 years. We're in good company.  ;)  :D

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In honor of the February blues, I thought I'd share a paragraph from a book about medieval France I was reading tonight (The Strangled Queen, by Maurice Druon):

 

"February is undoubtedly the most difficult month in a year of scarcity. The last supplies from the previous autumn are exhausted, and so is the physical and mental resilience of human beings. Cold is joined to hunger. It is the month which has the highest death rate. People despair of ever seeing the spring again; in some despair becomes despondency and in others turns to hatred. As the road to the cemetery becomes familiar, everyone begins to wonder when his own turn will come."

 

See, my friends? People have been hating on February for 1000 years. We're in good company.  ;)  :D

 

Wow...that's deep and slightly disturbing that someone would think so despairingly of February.  Can't say that I'm at that point!

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Ummm, distracting myself with two 14U basketball tournaments this month followed by one in early March.  Two involve hotel stays, and that means arranging pet care and all of the things that go along with taking a family of five on two trips in a span of a few weeks.  I don't have time to think about being the blues because it is kind of one foot in front of the other, which passes the time quite nicely.

 

I'm also ordering books and materials we need for next year.

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In honor of the February blues, I thought I'd share a paragraph from a book about medieval France I was reading tonight (The Strangled Queen, by Maurice Druon):

 

"February is undoubtedly the most difficult month in a year of scarcity. The last supplies from the previous autumn are exhausted, and so is the physical and mental resilience of human beings. Cold is joined to hunger. It is the month which has the highest death rate. People despair of ever seeing the spring again; in some despair becomes despondency and in others turns to hatred. As the road to the cemetery becomes familiar, everyone begins to wonder when his own turn will come."

 

See, my friends? People have been hating on February for 1000 years. We're in good company.  ;)  :D

 

 

November is a big month for funerals these days.  (I'm a PW, so I tend to hear about them all.)  Every November...

 

Maybe it's b/c this generation of elderly aren't literally going hungry.  They are just dreading the holidays without their loved ones. :crying:

 

 

 

Back to OT:  I'm enjoying my bonus cup of coffee right now.  It could at least SNOW so I could send my kids outside for a while with good excuse.

 

The kids are even lethargic, not wanting to move from their cozy beds. They would be happy if I let them listen to audiobooks and play minecraft for the whole month.  Don't tempt me.  :coolgleamA:

 

I've got a few projects to do.  We are building bookshelves.  :hurray:   ds13 is learning some woodworking and so am I.  I think those shelves will be done this weekend, and then I'm going to sort books .(My secret OCD passion. :lol:) When the books are sorted, I'm going to compile lists for Pre K3, K4, and K5 for dd3's future school plans.  (Yes, I'm a dork!)  The thread about preschool-in-a-box inspired me to put something together so dd3 isn't overlooked in our busy day.

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I don't recommend this method- but we've had one illness after another- and just when you're sure everyone is clear, you end up in the ER most of the night with a baby who can't breathe because of croup. Anyway, we're not burned out of school- schoolwork would be a welcome diversion!

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I don't recommend this method- but we've had one illness after another- and just when you're sure everyone is clear, you end up in the ER most of the night with a baby who can't breathe because of croup. Anyway, we're not burned out of school- schoolwork would be a welcome diversion!

Ugh! Sorry!! Hope you all get better soon!
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This is year 9 for us, and I'm finally just rolling with it!  There's lots of video watching, Snap Circuit/Kano/Lego/other hands-on building and programming, free reading, and other interest-based, independent learning going on. Kids are working on their Education Fair projects.  We still have our regular curriculum in play, but not to the usual extent.  (And I planned for that this year!)

 

I've been working on next year's plans because that's so much more exciting and fresh, and will hopefully free up some summer time!

 

I'm already all coffee, all day, so there's no hope for me there.

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I don't recommend this method- but we've had one illness after another- and just when you're sure everyone is clear, you end up in the ER most of the night with a baby who can't breathe because of croup. Anyway, we're not burned out of school- schoolwork would be a welcome diversion!

 

:grouphug:

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Put my fingers in my ears and sing "la di da" on the top of my lungs.

 

Want to!

 

So ready for a break. Cleaning up peanut butter on door knobs, fishing toys out of the toliet, helping with pre algebra, preparing things for the new baby, scrubbing down my toddler cause he got into the stamp pads (again!), trying to organize things to prevent needing to give him three baths a day... and that was just this morning. It's 10:30.

 

That tends to be my normal, but February just makes it harder.

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This year we managed to get the flu, one after another. 3 full weeks of kids/mom being sick makes it easy to lighten up and not do everything. Then we're all bored of half-lit, unproductive days and ready to get back into full gear :-P

 

Another option might be a mid-winter break with no sickness - take President's day plus a couple more days off, with the expectation you're going to come back full force.

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