Long before mid-March, the first signs of spring begin to appear outside the windows and inside your homeschool. Tender shoots of green reach toward the warming sun, and the feet of little ones who have spent too many long days pent up inside begin to tap. Their bodies seem wigglier, their minds wander, and their attention spans continue to disintegrate as winter fades. Honest homeschool parents will admit that come spring, lunch breaks aren't long enough and bare feet seem more preferable than traditional footwear. Spring is in the air.

While we like to think about it as a mere state of mind, spring fever actually has real physical components. Hormonal and chemical changes in the body occur due to the change in season. Those bursts of energy, overall feelings of well-being, the inability to sit still, and even anxiety can result from these changes that affect behavior.

Unfortunately, your homeschooling year is not over. In fact, your children may be at a critical time in their studies when they need to gear up to take end-of-year tests, complete courses, or finish term-long writing projects. So, what can homeschool parents do to tame the beast that arrives with the first robins? The following are a few suggestions to keep your homeschooling on track.

1. Lighten up. Add extra field trips of interest to your children or plan fun-filled learning activities that take advantage of their upbeat energy. Allow your children to express their energized social side with a homeschool party that includes games, food, and friends.

2. Take it outside. If and when weather permits, take your homeschooling outdoors. The changes in nature can inspire creative writing or spark artistic ability. You might even want to add a picnic lunch to make the day more fun!

3. Let them move. Create new learning activities that are filled with movement. More than just fun, it allows your children to burn off some excess energy.

4. Interject multimedia. Interactivity keeps homeschool students more engaged in content. Use games, movies, music, and more to keep them on track.

5. Mix up the schedule. It's easy for boredom to set in when spring arrives. Combat the doldrums by changing the flow of the day. When they're expecting math, give them science. Homeschool only half days, study one subject for the entire day, or for a real change of pace, declare a "no school" day and let your children pursue their individual interests.

6. Take advantage of nature. Earth is bursting with new things to discover and learn. Take advantage of the bounty of the season to enrich your lessons. Plant a garden, investigate melting ice, or record the return of bird species to their spring and summer habitat. The fresh air and hands-on experiences help time fly.

7. Take more breaks. Most homeschool families have basically hibernated all winter long. With the coming of spring, sitting still just seems silly. Adding short but effective breaks into the day gives kids a chance to stretch, chat, and laugh.

8. Review and more. Add a new dimension to the review process with a preview of what's to come next year. When you add new material to that which you've previously covered, you give your children a new opportunity to listen and get excited. This also demonstrates the relevance of the lessons learned.

9. Challenge your children with healthy competition. Reignite your children's love of learning with a reading, writing, photography, art, or kite flying contest at home or within your homeschool group. Choose a grand prize that will even entice older children to get involved.

10. Set realistic goals. Don't let the pressure of finishing every chapter in your children's curriculum steal your homeschooling joy. Relax a little and be realistic about what can be accomplished. Keep a priority list to make sure nothing essential is left out.

Share your own tips for keeping your children engaged at the end of the homeschool year in the comment section below.