High School Helpline title
with Cheryl A. Bastian
gray dial phone with white cord
gray dial phone with white cord
High School Helpline title
with Cheryl A. Bastian
We’re tackling some of the most common questions parents ask and sharing simple action steps to make it easy.
How do we keep high schoolers motivated through the winter season?
Winter can be hard.
Multiple aspects of the winter months often collide—holiday hustle and bustle, weather constraints, family travel, and less hours of sunlight—leaving children and parents stressed and overwhelmed. This doesn’t necessarily need to be so. In fact, the winter season could be a welcomed season of gratitude, refreshment, and life skill refinement, all of which can be crowded out at other times of the year.
What’s the first step for keeping high schoolers motivated this winter?
Every family is unique, so the first step will vary. Think about the distinctiveness of your family members. For example, you’ll need to consider the life season you are all in and where you live. These factors may affect your options. Keeping these in mind, consider the interests, longings, and independent projects your high schooler may have already voiced.

When we hit a change in season, it helps to gather our family and brainstorm a list of skills or activities we could participate in together. We begin sharing what we are thankful for and how we see each family member contributing and making a difference in our family and in the lives of others. We also ask our tweens and teens what they desire to accomplish independently. Valuing their ideas helps boost their motivation. Our high schoolers have proposed learning to prepare certain foods (choosing entrees or desserts from different ethnicities while studying geography), renovating or updating living and study spaces (moving furniture can provide a needed budget conscious change), or learning a new game (creating a family tournament of a favorite to spend time together). We discovered high schoolers offer insightful thoughts when they know they will be taken seriously.

How could we incorporate skill development in the winter months?
Some of the activities our high schoolers requested ushered in a slower pace and brought needed refreshment during long winters.
Learn a handicraft
Many options fall into this category and can be a welcomed project-based addition to a history, humanities, home economics, or a fine arts course in process. Crocheting, knitting, cross-stitch, needlepoint, macramé, and tie-dyeing have been favorites, but your teen might also dig into leatherwork, candle making, clothing construction, or quilting. Classes taught in art galleries, studios, and fabric stores have enhanced our experiences. One of our daughters enjoyed a conversational knitting group of senior citizens at her grandmother’s church.
Gain a life skill
The possibilities are as endless as the high schooler’s interests. Their answers may surprise you. Some of our teens have requested managing a checking account, building a website, learning to iron a dress shirt or hem pants, canning produce, and buying a used car. These skills counted toward electives in home maintenance, home economics, food preparation, or personal finance.
“If you struggle to find ways to tweak your high schooler’s days, keep asking about preferences, and try new activities and methods.”
Land a work-from-home job
Many teens desire to earn and save money. It’s important to listen to this request and come alongside them, praying for God to provide an income outlet. Maybe your church is looking to hire someone to create graphics or write children’s curriculum. Or a neighbor is looking to hire someone to help edit photos.

Of course, there is always the possibility of working a part-time job out of the home, maybe as a mother’s helper for a friend, a cashier at a pet store, or providing companionship for an elderly acquaintance. Interpersonal communication and workplace skills will be gained in the process.

How could we adjust and refresh learning in the winter months?
Some high schoolers need a shift in activities—alternatives to traditional book work can freshen up learning. Your teen might listen to a podcast, read a biography, attend theater productions, spend time working on or editing a piece of creative writing, or build a computer. Special programming workshops and classes at local libraries, planetariums, university and county extension offices, state and local parks, recreation facilities, and YMCAs are often great resources. For our family, TED talks have created talking points for conversations, industry magazines helped refine a career trajectory, and job shadowing solidified a niche area in a field of choice.
What about carving out extra time for community service of interest?
Holidays provide opportunities for additional service hours: assisted living facilities needing instrumentalists for holiday dinners or worship services, libraries seeking teens to read to younger patrons, shoveling snow for neighbors not able to do so for themselves, or serving at a local soup kitchen.
What about using the time to get a head start on something that may be needed in the coming years?
The winter months are a great time to prepare for the future. A high schooler with work or volunteer experience could begin to prepare a resume in preparation for future employment. We’ve also used this time for college essay practice and counted the work toward an English credit.

Adjusting in the winter months by incorporating your teen’s ideas and interests may be just the refreshment that’s needed to keep motivation high and curiosity alive.

If you struggle to find ways to tweak your high schooler’s days, keep asking about preferences, and try new activities and methods. In the process, your teen is learning an important life skill, adjusting to life circumstances and seasons.
Cheryl Bastian headshot

heryl Bastian has been married to Mike for twenty-eight years and began homeschooling in 1993. A mother of eight children—toddler through adult—Cheryl knows the trials and triumphs of embracing each season of life and is passionate about equipping and inspiring parents who want to nurture a desire for lifelong learning in their children.