Dealing with Chronic Illness While You Homeschool

Dealing with Chronic Illness

Homeschooling while dealing with your own pain and suffering, whether temporary or long-term, can be a difficult thing to do. Let me say, first, if you are facing a chronic illness and still want to homeschool your children, you are not alone! For centuries, mothers have been teaching their children at home and dealing with pain and/or illness. It can be done! It may be difficult but it’s not impossible!


Just to tell you a little bit about myself, I am homeschooling through chronic illness. I was recently diagnosed with Lupus, after a long battle with several doctors saying I had some “unknown autoimmune disorder” (that’s what they called it for some time). I was also diagnosed in the past with a congenital disorder called Chiari Malformation Type 1 (this just means I get lots of headaches, dizziness, and muscle weakness in addition to the Lupus symptoms). Most people think it’s strange for someone with so many medical problems to be homeschooling. But honestly, I would not have it any other way. I don’t have to worry about my kids’ “school” when I have my own appointments. I don’t have to worry about driving to a school building when I can barely walk to the bathroom. The last doctor’s appointment I had, my two kids just hung out in the waiting room. My 9 year old son thought that was the best! (The waiting room has Cartoon Network and we do not.)

One important thing I’ve learned about homeschooling over the last 3 years, is that learning doesn’t just happen between the hours of 8am and 3pm. Actually, I’ve seen the best learning happen, in my kids, at different times through out the days and the weekends; sometimes even in the middle of the night. (Does Homeschooling HAVE to look like Public School?)

Occasionally thanks to my medications or just because of my illness, I have insomnia. Lately, my son has also had some insomnia (he too has a few medical issues). When we can’t sleep, we will talk about things he is learning about and things he’s interested in. Or we’ll get on my computer and research something educational and interesting until we are both very tired. It may be 11pm at night but you can still learn, read a book, or watch a streaming movie.

We’ve been known to pop in an educational movie and lay around in our pajamas. And when I’m stuck in bed all day, dealing with pain and exhaustion, the kids know they can come climb in my bed and do some reading with me or just have me help them with their math. They understand that mom is always available! And mom can always chat! 😉

So whether dealing with a rough pregnancy, a temporary illness, or if you have a chronic condition that will never go away, know you can still homeschool your kids! It just takes some preparations, flexibility, and creativity to get it all in.

My kids each have a daily assignment sheet. It’s a printed 8 1/2 x 11 sheet (front and back) with what they need to do each day. And I laminated it to be used over and over again. This list includes daily chores, Bible reading, and their daily devotional in addition to vocabulary, history, and math. They each know, “get all your work done” and the rest of the day is yours.

New Assignment Sheets photo NewAssignmentSheets_zpsf357fb24.jpg

So what do you do when YOU are the one sick? (Even if for only a day)

Truthfully, we often wing it. If we need to take the day off, we do. If the kids can get a few things done on their own, they do. If we need to start at a different time of the day, we do that. You just have to find what works for your family. And I think this is true whether you are dealing with illness or not. Life happens, even to homeschoolers. We just have the freedom to make our own schedule, that works around our timeline, and not the 8-3 timeline.

One last piece of advice, that I think is also important: Homeschooling with chronic illness is teaching you and your kids important character skills. Remember that! Learn from it. It’s also important to get your children on board with helping, with age appropriate tasks, around the house. As early as 1 and 2, toddlers can help pick up their own toys. And older kids can help cook meals. My kids are being taught to “be a helper”. So that’s what they are required to do. Mom is disabled, so they need to help. It’s just the way it is! Here is a free age specific chore list.


T sweeping the kitchen photo Tsweepingthekitchen_zps9ec241d7.jpg


Check out The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling with Chronic Illness for LOADS of resources, books, and more!


(Original Photo Credit)


Jen G. loves to encourage homeschool families over at Gricefully Homeschooling. She homeschools her 9 year old son and her 16 year old daughter, with a Biblical Homeschool Philosophy (solid foundation), while also dealing with a chronic illness. In her spare time, she likes to read, cook, organize her new home in the country, and follow Jesus. (Not in that order.) You can find Jen on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, G+.




  1. Melinda says

    Thanks for the article on homeschooling with a chronic illness. I had a few years in with homeschooling when I was diagnosed with RSD. During the worst of the pain and suffering, I had to take many months/ days off, but I continue to homeschool my children witht his disability. I don’t sleep well most nights, and I have a hard time getting around in the mornings. I don’t think I could handle having to get kids around and out the door to school by a certain time. With homeschooling, I can work at my own pace as much as the pain will allow, plus I am thankful to have my children with me for when I need help with opening jars, running the vacuum, washing dishes, and helping to bathe and dress the toddler, etc. I believe the children understand what I am dealing with (they deal with my grumpiness), and they are learning a valuable lesson. I do not want them to grow up and move out – I love them being here all day, but I know some day I will have to let them go.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing with others how those of us with Chronic Illness’ homeschool. Yes, it is possible. There are hard days, but it is possible and like you, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If we continue to focus on God and teaching our children to give all the glory to him, he will bless us. Praying for you, my friend!

  3. Nicole says

    Thank you for this! So good to know we’re not alone. I also have Chiari Malformation among other things, but it sounds like mine is a bit different – for me it’s included temporary paralysis, heart problems, and so far 2 surgeries. And we’ve homeschooled through it all! It’s been a journey, but God is good, and is absolutely working everything out for the best. There are hard days, but our girls (6 and 3) are learning so much about life especially on those days. And homeschooling has come in especially handy when we’ve had to travel across country for medical reasons. Last year alone, we spent 6 weeks in another state for one of my surgeries – not a problem when we homeschool! We pack up what we need, do what we can, and enjoy the time as a family. We do end up usually doing things year round just to make life more flexible to allow for hospital days and such. Love homeschooling and wouldn’t trade it for anything despite the challenges! Thank you for this article!

  4. Anonymous says

    Thank you for posting! I also have a severe chronic illness and it is always nice to know that there are other HS mommies out there!

  5. Jenn says

    Thank you! It is so easy to feel so alone when you are struggling. I have had health problems over the years that have gotten progressively worse. I’ve had Hashimoto’s going on 20 years but due to moving repeatedly have had a hard time getting a diagnosis for the many other symptoms I’ve had for years that have gotten worse with time. Last year I was diagnosed with MS, which they believe I’ve had for years. This is our 6th year homeschooling and I’ve felt like ‘quitting’ so often of late even though I know in my heart of hearts that homeschooling is what God wants for our family. It helps to know I have sisters in this. After another very recent move it is so easy to feel so isolated. Thank you again for sharing this!

  6. Carolyn says

    Thanks for this. I have Fibromyalgia along with it’s frequent companion, IBS, but also have had a bad neck for years and live with headaches, sometimes unbearable. It can make it hard, and what is worse, is the main reason we’re homeschooling is due to my 14 yr old daughter’s health issue that has left her with a seemingly permanent headache (still working to solve it), so she could never handle the workload of a school. It doesn’t take much before her head gets worse. We don’t get done nearly what I’d love to. I’ve been excited to take on this homeschool journey, it’s just slower due to her health. But we’re doing what we can, a day at a time!

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