Winter Homeschooling Rhythms

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

As we are now in the heart of winter, albeit a mild one at that, I thought it might be a good time to share our winter homeschooling rhythms for a sample week (click above graphic to enlarge). We are unschoolers and don't follow any set or structured curriculum, but nonetheless there is a certain flow to our weeks that changes with each season. Given this winter's moderate temperatures and lack of snow, we have been able to continue with many of our usual activities, like nature walks and homeschool park days. "Normal" winters would typically bring more indoor time, more slots in our week that would be filled with inside crafting or play, but I have been pleasantly amazed at the number of days this winter when our outside time has exceeded our indoor time. Even on the coldest of days, we try to get outside at least a couple of times a day for a short stroll to the library or coffee shop, or a faster dash to a museum or class.

These sample rhythms are a very rough snapshot of our winter weeks, failing to fully capture the amount of time we spend visiting with family members and enjoying time with friends. They also may seem rigid when in fact they are very loose. With the exception of swimming and piano, most of our other weekly activities are voluntary: we take advantage of them when we choose and pass on them if necessary. I have mentioned previously how hooked we are on the city's many drop-in, pay-as-you-go class offerings, which are invaluable to us as unschoolers and help us to pop in a fun activity here or there without the pressure of a weekly commitment.

Above all, we try to keep our children's schedule simple and serene. We try to keep a natural cadence to our days: calm, active, calm, active, calm. And we try to incorporate the city's many resources and events into our weekly rhythms.

As gentle as this winter has been, we are looking forward to spring's new rhythms, when so much of our day is spent outside spotting signals of rebirth and renewal, taking long nature walks, reading books on the grass, painting on our back deck, eating meals on the picnic table.

Our rhythms change, reflecting seasonal changes as well as changes in the interests and needs of our family. But the cadence remains the same, as does the comfort in centering our lives around family, community, and the natural world.


  1. When you posted your Fall Rhythms I thought that it was such a good idea that I copied it by taking my kids on 'planned' activities every morning. It seemed to be great for the kids and I enjoyed how much LESS MESSY the house was because we were gone so much.

    But I got really tired of being around other people so much, and that surprised me. I always thought I was an outgoing person, but it turns out that I really like to be at home!

    I wonder if you ever feel burnt out from being around other people? I'd like to take my children to more of the exciting places that our city has to offer so maybe I will start again in the spring. You certainly do inspire me to get out more!

  2. Patti, that's so interesting! I think for me it's just the opposite: I get invigorated being out and about around the city with so many people. Of course, we still have lots of inside time too and lots of time on nature walks and such when there aren't as many people, so it seems like a good balance for us now.