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