Thriving in the Doldrum Season of the Homeschool Year

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Thriving in the Doldrum Season of the Homeschool Year

“Mr. Chris said the time between Christmas and spring was always the longest time of the year. It’s true, Marly thought, going to school day after day. Snow fell and fell and melted and melted and then fell again. The roads were icy and piled on either side with old drifts as high as the car. . . . [T]he new gifts got to be just ordinary things lying around with the things you’d had forever and forever.”

 —Miracles on Maple Hill

Homeschooling in January and February is, for many families, the most disheartening. The lengthening days are not lengthening enough to make a difference, the weather in many parts of the country is not ideal (and for families in Texas and Florida, the glorious weather can make homeschooling less appealing).

And for whatever reason, the Sonlight schedule pages seem to move most slowly during Weeks 18 through 30.

Here are some suggestions to help you beat the doldrums. Any one of them might work for you in this season—you might pray through the list to determine which is right for you right now.

1. Determine to Press Through

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to simply keep going. All jobs have their less-than-ideal moments, as any worker can testify.

If you choose to keep going, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in perseverance. It’s a good choice.

2. Re-evaluate

Many families find it hard to get into a groove at the beginning of the year. It can be hard to recover the groove after Christmas break.

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to step back and see if there’s an easier way around.

Take some time to figure out what isn’t working and why.

  • Is math taking too long, and destroying the pace of your day?
  • Are younger siblings' disturbances making Read-Alouds last twice as long as they should?
  • Are you dealing with unpleasant attitudes in your children or yourself?
  • Are there unrealistic expectations, sapping your joy?
  • Is there too much pressure from friends or family so you never get a break?

Once you’ve identified the problem, seek a solution. If you can’t think of an answer, prayer is a good option. You can also ask an Advisor or seek help in the Sonlight Connections Facebook group.

If you choose to make changes, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in flexibility and creative problem solving. It’s a good choice.

3. Take a Mental Health Day

This is an option that Sarita offered her children when life's pressures became too heavy.

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to rest, so you can make an attempt another day with renewed strength.

Whether you take a day or a week to regroup, it can be a blessing to have some extra hours to deep clean or work on character training, to bake with young children, or to read sequels of beloved books.

Call it a snow day if you need an excuse. Though unlike public school snow days, you get to pick a day that’s convenient for you, no matter the weather.

Not sure you can afford the time off, and still end your school year when you wished?

You might need some creative scheduling, but you can probably make it work.

  • Whether you’re doing a 4-Day or a 5-Day program, you can double-up a subject or two a day so you finish a week’s schedule in three days or four.
  • You can opt for a few audio books, or have an older child wash the dishes while you read ahead (or catch up on reading, as the case may be).
  • You might skip a few science experiments and watch the Discover and Do DVDs instead.
  • You can move books to become summer reads, plan to end math a little early or push it to the next year (depending on the program, some programs include review at the first part of the year anyway).

If you choose to take a rest, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in self-care and grace. It’s a good choice.

However the Lord leads you in this season, both the Sonlight staff and your Sonlight sisters (and a few brothers) are cheering for you.

You will get through this season.

As Marly found, in Miracles on Maple Hill, “Then the miracle happened.”

Spring will come again, with all the hope and beauty and good cheer.

Sonlight Advisors

Talk to an Advisor if you aren't sure whether your homeschool problems are the case of simple doldrums or something bigger.

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