The months of school leading up to winter break are chock full of activities, events, and happenings. Back to school excitement kicks the year off. Fall festivals and Halloween lead right into Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all the relevant happenings keep kids excited about school.

And then it hits. The post-holiday back-to-school blues. No major holidays. Cold weather for many. The next big happening — spring break — is months away. In January many schools also start buckling down in preparation for assessments and end-of-grade tests.

It's not unusual for elementary school kids to struggle the second half of the school year. What can you do to keep your child motivated and engaged from now until the last school bell rings in June? Check out these ways to refocus and re-energize your little ones.

Review the Family M.O.

Have a sit-down with the kids to review expectations regarding schoolwork and behavior. This conversation could be a great time to evaluate what worked in the fall and what didn't, and allow kids to offer feedback. Children thrive on routine. It's time to get back to yours.

Get Outside

Sunlight is scarce this time of year, so make the most of what you have. If you're in a snowy area, go sledding or build a snowman. Try ice skating. Or just bundle up and go for a walk around the block or in the woods. This can be a great family activity, too.


The benefits of reading abound. Reading can be an escape from the winter doldrums. Encourage family reading time in the evening or on weekends. Check out a list of notable children's books for 2013 to get you started.

Schedule a Teacher Conference

Request a meeting with your child's teacher to proactively evaluate his progress to date. Ask about upcoming projects and tests so you can prepare at home.

Set Goals

With the notion of setting New Year's resolutions still fresh in everyone's minds, talk to your child about her academic goals for the rest of the year. Help your child set measurable, attainable weekly goals. Examples could include learning five new sight words each week, practicing multiplication tables for five minutes each day, or reading 20 minutes each night. Consider making a chart to keep track of the goals so everyone can celebrate her progress.

Embrace the Season

Even nature slows down in the winter. While exercise rejuvenates, enjoying the slower pace of the season is also helpful. Afternoons spent doing an indoor craft, playing games, or watching a movie might be in order.

Don't Forget the Fun

This is the time of year people become goal-focused. It's also when the tendency to hibernate is high. Don't put fun activities on hold until spring. Whether it's a unique weekend getaway or a craft day at home, look for opportunities to encourage creativity and energy during this typically quiet time of year.