teaching in winter


Captain’s Log.

Winter, Day 1,578,325.

The crew is restless, complaining of too much work and too little sun. Energy levels are much higher than output and difficult to contain in such tight quarters. Mutiny seems inevitable. And the captain? Teaching in winter means the captain is just plain tired. 

Schooling in winter is hard, and I suspect if you kept a captain’s log of what was going on with your students, many of your entries right now would look just like the above. Especially in this year in which many of our usual options for dealing with the wiggles and the bad moods aren’t available. 

So I’m just here to give you a couple of ideas–and a LOT of encouragement!– to help you through. Because this winter will not last forever, even if it seems like it already has! 


teaching in winter

Teaching in Winter Tip #1: Make the end of each week special.

Everyone in your house has worked hard this week. Even if it doesn’t feel like much has gotten done, if your kids have been doing schoolwork and you’ve been teaching them, encouraging them, and generally prodding them along, everyone has done something hard. So celebrate it! 

You may find something you want to do every week, or each week could be a one-off. It could be pizza night, movie night, board game night… it could be ice cream sundaes or special time alone with a parent. Here are a few ideas to help you figure out what might work. 

Teaching in Winter Tip #2: Get flexible.

No, I don’t mean take a yoga class (although that might work to relax you and your kids a little!).  But a change of scenery will likely do everyone in your house some good, and in a winter like this one, sometimes you have to be flexible to get it. So check the weekly weather early this week. Do some extra work on the rainy days or the weekend. 

Then, on the days when the temperature is a bit warmer or the sun will be out? Get outside with your kids! A hike, some playtime, or even just a long drive with an audiobook and some hot chocolate can sometimes be more important than traditional schoolwork. A little change in routine and scenery can make hitting the books that much easier afterward.

Teaching in Winter Tip #3: Reward Thyself! (Oh yeah, and the kids, too!)

I’m a big believer in rewards–that’s why I have all the clubs for the kids! Hard work deserves recognition. And since making it through winter can be hard work, yes, it deserves a reward! So get dreaming and planning. It doesn’t have to be big, but it does need to be somewhat special.  Maybe the “carrot on the stick” here is your spring break plans. Maybe it’s a special outing or big-item toy they’ve been wanting. Your choice–you know what will motivate your kids when it’s hard.

Then, make it visual! You can make a construction paper chain for each day, or mark off a calendar until the beginning of spring or your spring break, or whatever you choose as your goal line. Now everyone can be involved and excited each day. 

(Oh, and I definitely suggest that you make a separate reward for yourself to keep you going too, even if it’s just an extra $20 to spend guilt-free at the coffee shop you love or that special lotion that smells like spring to you. Something to mark that you’ve made it through a tough season can motivate you to dig a little deeper until it’s over.)

Rest in this truth: winter will end. It will. But I don’t want any of us to have a mutiny on our hands in the meantime! Acknowledging that it’s hard is important–and making a plan to deal with it can help everyone involved. I hope this helps you through this season.

And please know that I am here every day both on video and in spirit to encourage your student with my teaching and my online resources! I’m rooting for you and your student! You can do it! And if you feel like you already have a handle on this winter stuff, I’d love to hear from you! Share your tips in the Facebook group or email us! 

Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady