Lifting the Winter Blahs
For many parts of the U.S., February is the snowiest, coldest month of the year with many days without sunshine. That may mean lots of indoor, togetherness time! Homeschool families often consider this a positive since one of the reasons for homeschooling is to build close family relationships. So this month we want to focus on how to dispel the dreariness of the dark days of winter while encouraging family unity. (For our readers in sunny California, Florida, and Hawaii--we are now accepting invitations to come for a visit!)
KEEPING IT LIGHT
Interjecting creativity into your teen's day will spice up his life, and you will be surprised at how it will deepen your relationship with one another. Don't let the academics obscure the necessity of spending quality time with your teen and getting to know him better through times of fun, times of open communication, and times of "being there." For most of us, the tendency will be to emphasize the academics--but often it is during the unexpected times of being together that your teen will open up and let you know what is on his mind.
Here are some suggestions for entertaining things to do with your teen even when the weather outside is frightful. Obviously, you won't be able to incorporate all the suggestions this winter, but consider choosing a couple to do over the next several months either as a family or one on one. Showing your teen you enjoy her company may make the times you need to crack down on the academics a bit easier for her to take!
ACTIVITIES IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Does your community have an indoor roller or ice skating rink? Treat your teen to an afternoon or weekend trip to the rink. Throw in some conversation time back and forth from the rink by reminiscing about your own teen years telling him a new fact about yourself that you have never shared before--maybe a struggle you had as a teen or an incident where you had doubts about your future or your faith. Your teen will see you in a different light and may realize that you can relate to this stage of his life after all!
Bowling is another wonderful family activity. Some bowling alleys have cheaper rates during the day when the lanes are not in demand. Bowling provides great exercise, and you can log these hours and include them in your teen's homeschool phys ed credit.
Are there museums in your area within a reasonable driving distance? Use the internet to locate museums, nature centers, aquariums, or other interesting venues. Although your temptation may be to structure the entire day complete with definite assignments to complete while at the museum, you may want to consider a more relaxing outing--no note-taking, no paper to write up, nothing to research. Just enjoy the time together.
FUN AT HOME
Why not gather around a blazing fire (if you have a fireplace; if not, light some candles for ambiance) and break open an exciting book to read aloud to your teens. It will bring back the memory of your reading aloud to them when they were younger. It's a tradition worth keeping! But be sure to make it extra special by adding hot chocolate and home-baked cookies.
Speaking of cookies, how about a cookie bake off? (If the Christmas cookies are still hanging around, we suggest you feed them to the dog.) Keep it simple by including just your immediate family with each member baking a batch of his favorite cookies. Or, open it up to extended family members or maybe families in your co-op. Decide ahead of time on categories to judge the cookies such as most nutritious, best tasting, best secret ingredient, or most calories.
Another suggestion would be to plan a hospitality night with your teen. The art of hospitality is a skill that will be used all through life. Start off with a brainstorming session, but then let your teen do the majority of the planning from deciding on the guest list, to proposing a theme for the evening, to recommending a menu, to shopping for supplies and food. If your family is sports-oriented, then a March Madness college basketball party might be just the ticket. As another idea, a game night with simple prizes for winners can generate fun and laughter for all. Refreshments can be as easy as everyone bringing his or her favorite pie. Not only will these events be enjoyable, but your teen will learn how to be a good host/hostess and, hopefully, develop etiquette skills in the process. Your teen will also come away with a new appreciation for how much time and effort actually goes into planning and preparing such an evening--not to mention the cleanup afterwards! See our website for more ideas on other life skills you may wish to teach.
THE REWARDS OF FUN
By setting aside moments of enjoyment with your teen, you are orchestrating opportunities to connect and to share precious memories. Banishing those winter blahs by enjoying each other's company will be time well spent, and time...remembered.
Next month, join us as we tour HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School website and highlight many of the resources listed there. You may be surprised to find a hidden trove of information that will assist you as you teach high school at home.
Until then, we are praying for snow so we can go sledding,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (2/7/2008), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.