When you are ill either occassionaly or constantly how do you continue to homeschool successfully?
A reader emailed me last week with a question I feel entirely inadequate to answer. I'm hoping that you, my readers, may be better equipped to offer some words of encouragement to this homeschooling mom.
This is what she wrote:
"I am homeschooling three — 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. I have an autoimmune disorder that makes me extremely tired and limited at times as to what I can do. It affects my walking and even daily preparations around the house for several days at a time when I have a flare up.
I feel like I am giving my children a good education, but my temper flares and I get so frustrated with being limited physically and then being "stuck" inside all day with kids. I cannot "plan" extras and social outings sometimes due to flare ups.
Do you have any comments or articles written by mothers who have limitations or illness who have overcome the challenges of homeschooling?"
If you can offer some encouragement, advice, or links to articles for this homeschool mom, please leave a comment on this post.
Becky Perry says
First of all, (((hugs))) for you. I can relate to what you are experiencing on several levels. In late 2008 I found out that my kidney disease and progressed and that my kidney function had decreased to the point that I would need to start dialysis right away.
At the time my boys were in the first and second grades at the time and I chose home dialysis (overnight cycler) so that I could continue to homeschool. My health started to fail rather (to me) rapidly. The biggest thing to deal with was almost every bit of my energy. There were a lot of days that we just sat at the table and did worksheets. Some days we curled up together and read a lot. Some days we did nothing.
I was so thankful to be homeschooling during that time. Having to get up and send my boys to school would have taken almost more effort than I could have imagined. I took all the pressure off myself and decided to do what I honestly could do and realized that we would finish when we finished, even if we worked on into the summer.
My husband was awesome and helped me a lot. Actually, he pretty much did everything and I helped HIM when I could. Having someone to help around the house or even to teach was extremely helpful.
Thankfully, after 15 months on dialysis and 7 months on the waiting list, I received a new kidney last March.
I know that homeschooling all by itself can be overwhelming, and with an ongoing health issue it can be easy to forget our reasons for why we chose to homeschool and certainly want to throw our hands up in despair.
One of our reasons to homeschool was for the individual attention that I would be able to give to my sons. Well, in the last 3 years I've had two major back surgeries that have required, both before and after surgery, many months of bedrest. Any homeschooling that I did was done with the boys climbing up into the bed with me. This is how we did reading, math, history, science and grammar. They each received a great deal of individual attention. Any work they completed independently I would check and work through any problems with them. Again in bed or while on the couch.
Time wise, school progressed at a slightly slower pace but we kept a 12 month goal in perspective. 180 days in 12 months was easier to think about accomplishing than 180 in 9 months.
For field trips I made sure that I was in a solid homeschooling support group and depended upon friends in that group who were willing to take the boys with their children. I also had a great deal of support from my husband.
It is frustrating when we are limited or tired or are in great pain, and I worried about the effect on my sons. But what I have witnessed is their growth in maturity, willingness and care towards household responsibilities, and deeper compassion for others. We truly work as a team much better now than before because they know themselves to be invested in our family goals.
I do hope that you will be able to find the help that you need and will be encouraged as you see things come together. I am still recovering from my 2nd back surgery and will be extremely limited for the next 9 months, but I am excited to see how God will continue to show His faithfulness in this call to homeschool as He has all ready done. Godspeed to you.
I cant give you much encouragement, but I can say that it is good to hear that others face the same kinds of challenges as I have. I am just finding out that I have lupus and very possibly kidney issues to go with it.
It has been all I can do to get through the day sometimes. We have many days when we do not get any school done and some days were all we do is read in bed with mom. We are not too far behind, but I worry sometimes.
We have found a great program that supports homeschoolers through the school district. I dont know how many other places have a program like this one, but it has helped us greatly. They do trips and onsite workshops, so my kids get to interact with other people instead of being stuck at home with mom everyday.
Good luck to you!
I have homeschooled while I was going through chemotherapy while pregnant, during the birth of our premature baby, and since I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I have 5 kids ages 2,5,7,9, and 12. When I was going through chemo my oldest was 6. I would be so tired that we did school from the couch. We watched science videos but they also learned by going to the oncologist's office, hospital, etc. We took school with us. I also taught my oldest how to do basic household chores. At the time my kids were 2,4, and 6 but we managed.
Many people asked how I did it. My answer? God. I didn't have a choice. My children needed me and you do what you have to.It's still that way today. I can't do everything I want to do. My heart can't handle the stress. So we cut back. We stay home… My kids don't know any different. They don't remember me being healthy!
You can do it!!
I have homeschooled through three periods of what was not diagnosed but seems like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was so weak I could not stand up long enough to take a shower, could not walk from one end of our tiny house to the other without stopping to rest etc. I learned the first time that my three year old son really could dress himself, and that he could in fact even do the laundry. I'd sort the laundry, then go dump the detergent in, and go rest on the couch. He dragged a Rubbermaid tote to the washer, put it all in and pressed the Go! button. (which he loved) Later when I heard it stop, I'd tell him and he put the clothes from the washer into the dryer using a stool to get up onto the washing machine, piling it on top of the dryer, climbing down and putting it in the dryer and starting the machine. Later again, he'd check to see if it was dry and give it more time if it wasn't. When dry, he'd pull it all back out into the tote and drag it to the couch where I might fold it if I had the strength that day. Many times my husband would fold and put it away that night. My three year old could make us peanut butter sandwiches. And we read on the couch the rest of the day.
The later times I was fatigued, he was 6 yrs. and then we did it again when he was 8 years old. He needed more serious school. We built on the independence I'd trained in him previously. He brought his school work to me when I sat on the couch. We did flash cards there, he sat on the floor next to me to do math etc. He could feed the one year old her toast for breakfast, when we napped I wrote him a list of what he still had to do and when I got up I found that he had actually done it all. I found that he worked much more quickly when we were sleeping and the house was quiet, and he enjoyed at 6 years old, the independence that choosing what to do first and managing his own time gave him. I even showed him how to measure out spices and the third time fatigue hit we did all of the things we learned the first two times plus he assembled things for dinner while I slept. I had three babies while living this way. We blocked the whoever was a baby at the time, into the living room with me so I could supervise them. The last time I was sick for nine months, five of which I was not pregnant for, so we knew it could happen outside of pregnancy. We are prepared and ready for the next hit which fortunately has not happened yet. I have worked hard to teach the kids to do the things I won't be able to do if I get sick again and to train them to be independent on their schoolwork as much as they can be.
I will say, the third time I got sick, I'd learned so much the first two times, we all just kind of shifted into Mom's Sick mode and everyone knew what to do. It was so much less stressful than the first times, fortunately because it lasted a lot longer. We just lowered our standard for household cleanliness and did the best we could. My husband picked up all of the slack, coming home from work and starting his evening job so to speak while I learned contentment – to be content with so much less "on-top-of-it-iveness" than I thought we needed. My times of being sick have been a blessing to my family by the things we've learned, how He has shaped us through those times, and for the joy I find in being able to do the things I want to do when I am feeling healthy. Trust God to give your kids field trips if He feels that they need them, via someone else taking them. Field trips are extra anyway, so nice if you can, but not a requirement for a good education. If God doesn't make them happen, He must not feel they are necessary. The kids are learning valuable life skills and character by doing for the family what you aren't able to do. Don't feel guilty. You are giving them the experiences and lessons God has planned for them during this time. It isn't the way you'd like it to be, but it's what God seems to feel is best for them right now. My kids know how to do so much more than my friend's children who have had what looks like a more ideal childhood, and so much more confidence. They know they can do whatever they decide they want to do. Last summer my son decided all of the tomatoes in the garden needed to be canned, and I was too busy so he did it. He went online to get the instructions, and went for it. I wandered through his project at times to see that he was staying safe and doing things correctly, which he was, and in the end he'd done such a valuable piece of work for the family all my himself at 10 years old. The next week he decided the plums really needed canning too so he rounded up his sisters and a few friends, set up an assembly line and they did jar after jar of plums, no help from me. The kids are amazing, they really can do so much that we don't give them credit for, or allow them freedom to try when we can do it ourselves.
Hope some of this helps. It is nice to read how others are managing similar issues. I will pray that you will learn the contentment I found by having these trials, and for you to make the most of your good days by teaching the kids skills they will need to use on your bad days.
Kami Crisanti says
I'm so sorry for all the health struggles. I think I can relate somewhat though.
We had quadruplets in Dec 2008 and my now almost 9 yr old daughter and 6 yr old son have been troopers through everything we've gone through the past 2 years.
We have had many times of doing nothing for what some would say is way too long, but I don't think you have to be set on doing anything structure when you're going through any kind of trial. We've had to work through many trials and God always carries us through in the end. I beat myself up for what I'm "not" doing and forget to see what we "are" doing. My quadruplets are now 2 and we're just now finding it somewhat easier to get work done. My husband teaches them a lot during the evenings, during dinner, on the weekends….not from a book, from what he knows. He's often used sports to teach them different things about states. He sees shows on tv and uses that as a lesson to teach them "biblically" what or how God intends things rather than the world. We've done a lot of workbooks and worksheets vs our curriculum. I've had GREAT support of other homeschool mommas out there. Everyone does it different and how it best works for their families. I know my kiddos are ok!
We don't do a lot of social events because it hasn't worked out for us and financially we can't afford to put them in anything really. BUT- we do A LOT as a family and since we're new to our state (7 months) we're slowly getting the big kids into church and figuring ways to meet people as we can. Hang in there mommas- you're doing great! 🙂 Kami