I’m fairly confident by now that the last snow of the season is over. (I thought so once before, but then a surprise snowstorm in late March proved me wrong.) Of course, now that we’re finally free from winter’s icy grip, we’re facing the inevitable deluge of vernal showers. The stormy transition from winter to spring provides a good opportunity to reflect on yet another reason I’m glad to be homeschooling: the freedom to set our own pace.
Flexibility is often touted as one of the chief advantages of homeschooling, and rightly so: the ability to work around inclement weather allows greater control over our yearly calendar when we’re not at the mercy of arbitrary school closings. (There can still be a degree of arbitrariness to when our school is in session, of course, but it’s at our discretion, not the weather’s or the county’s.)
When heavy snowfall locks us in (well, technically we weren’t completely snowed in, but the deep snowdrifts and the frigid cold were certainly stifling to any thought of venturing out on errands), school can march right on unabated. We took a somewhat more leisurely pace the first day of the last snowfall, allowing for a generous recess to play outside. (As cold as it was, that didn’t last too long.) The baby was a little under the weather and somewhat clingy in consequence, so I held him most of the day, glad that I had the leeway to take things slowly. When the kids trooped back inside, I had some hot chocolate ready for them. I handed the older ones their assignments and set the younger ones up with a few books. As I sat on the couch holding the baby, I listened to the younger ones practice their letters. It was a quiet day, and we still got our schoolwork and (most of) our chores accomplished.
Rainy days can be a bit more of a challenge. First of all, there are a lot more of them, so the novelty factor just isn’t there. Rainy weather tends to have none of the magic and all of the gloom of snow days, and again, there are simply too many of them to serve hot chocolate each time in an attempt to boost morale. It’s usually still too chilly to play outside effectively for any length of time, and no matter how scrupulous I try to be about insisting that the children shed their boots at the door, the mud is inevitable. So unless I’m feeling particularly energetic and permissive, I generally encourage everyone to stay indoors.
Since it can be easy to slump into a huddled gloom of boredom, I try to set a good tone by turning on lots of lights, putting on cheerful music, and getting our chores out of the way early on. Sometimes we take a more relaxed approach to schoolwork, but usually it works better to keep busy and stay focused. The kids seem better motivated when the schedule moves along briskly, and getting through our lessons quickly leaves open the option for proffering something fun like puzzles, games, or a little fun time on the computer. Sometimes we even get to do two or three days’ worth of lessons in a single morning.
When all else fails, I compare our situation now to where we were last winter—renting a tiny apartment out in the country with no internet—and I choose to feel grateful for our current house, with plenty of room to spread out. Very soon we’ll be past this season…and right in the middle of hot weather, bugs, dirt, and all that summer has to offer.
Photo Credit: Photo collage created by Charity Klicka, images via Unsplash.com; second and third photos taken by Rose Focht, edited by Charity Klicka.