We’re rapidly approaching another school year and for many, that means another year of homeschooling with chronic illness.
Homeschooling a child with chronic illness can be very challenging depending on their needs. Homeschooling when you have chronic illness will require you to think more carefully about your year, planning for those times when you are physically limited or need to spend time in therapy or at doctor visits. You also want to be careful not to over plan or put high demands on your schedule which will create an environment of stress and possibly cause a relapse.
I homeschooled for many years through both scenarios, my illness & my children’s. I’ll be honest, it’s demanding, difficult, and stressful but very rewarding.
How do you eagerly approach a year that you know is going to be a lot of hard work, induce stress and possibly conflict?
I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that no one would look forward to that kind of year. So, as homeschool Moms who are either working through a chronic illness or helping to care for a chronically ill child, there are some important things you could do before school starts to plan for a great year. You can minimize stress and create an atmosphere of peaceful learning.
Here’s what I’m doing to plan for a great year.
1. I’m Changing My Attitude
Our homeschool is greatly influenced by our attitude. One of my very favorite authors is the late Zig Ziglar. His famous quote, “Quit Your Stinkin’ Thinkin” is also one of my favorites. I’m not naturally a positive person and have to say this to myself often.
We may find ourselves approaching our homeschool with dread, telling ourselves that it will be hard and miserable, listing all the reasons we’re messing up our children but this is not productive or helpful.
A better approach would be to enter in with a positive attitude and gratefulness that we have the awesome privilege of teaching and learning right along with our children, knowing that we have God’s help.
I love how my friend approaches her day in the morning, she happily greets her boys with, “Good morning, we get to homeschool today!” Now I’m usually not quite that chipper in the morning, especially before coffee, but I’m determined to greet our mornings with the best smile I can and a cheerful “good morning!”
2. I’m Changing My Environment
I’m a book and a paper-a-holic and I tend to be surrounded by books and articles that I want to read, am currently reading or those that I want my children to read. That can get pretty messy if I’m not careful.
This summer I’ve been working on clearing out and cleaning up my school bookshelves, my desk, my piles and my files.
I’ve been tossing things that can no longer be used, putting up for sale things that hopefully someone else wants and giving away things that are still usable but not worthy of selling.
I’m also working on the areas of our home that have collected clutter and areas that require a lot of my attention. I’m trying to get as organized as possible before school starts so that I can focus on school and not the clutter. When I was very sick with chronic Lyme disease, this sometimes meant putting a pile of stuff in a box and hiding it somewhere until I could get to it. Don’t stress, just do what you can and enlist the help of your family or a good friend.
3. I’m Changing My Plan
As I plan for school this year, I’m thinking about the things that worked in the past and the things that brought about the most melt-downs. I have 15 years of experience with four children but I’m always open to changing and looking for ways to make our days run more smoothly.
If this is your first year homeschooling, don’t worry if you have growing pains, that’s completely normal. You’ll be learning to work with your children, identifying their learning styles and setting boundaries. They will have a learning period as well, besides their schoolwork, they may need to learn to deschool if they’ve been in the public or private school setting. This can take the whole year but don’t throw in the towel. Work on building your relationship and setting up a good system that works for your family.
If you’ve been homeschooling for awhile, be flexible and willing to change what doesn’t work. Think about what caused your homeschool to be stressed or what just didn’t work well and come up with a few solutions. You may have to do this periodically throughout your school year. A vital part of my plan is the flexible schedules I’ve put in place for when we’ll have group studies and a flexible chore schedule. I also keep a list of creative free time activities as well as what my kids can work on when I can’t get out of bed. Older children work independently and younger children can hang out with Mom, coloring, doing quiet activities, or can be watching a movie.
Having structure, even when we may be having a bad health day is so important and helps our family stay on course.
4. I’m Changing Controls
It doesn’t matter how long I’ve walked with the Lord, it seems to be a constant exercise for me to give up control and put it back where it belongs, in God’s hands. He has called me to homeschool and He promises to help and be there every step of the way.
I have quite a history with the Lord and I know, but often forget, that when He has control over my homeschool it works much better. Does that mean my days will be rosy and my children will do all their chores without my asking and never argue? Not a chance. We all have free will.
What it does mean, is that I don’t have to stress over what I’m doing each day or worried about the 10th sick day in a row or how in the world will we ever finish school. I don’t even have to worry that I don’t know how to teach a topic or that my child’s not getting it. When I stop during those times and seek the Lord through prayer He always leads and guides me and provides the help I need.
Despite my older girls missing chunks of their academic years in Middle and High School, they both did very well and successfully graduated. How did that happen you say? We learned to skip the fluff and focus on the material that was most needed and required.
Learning will continue for the rest of their lives. My goal is to teach my children how to learn, how to think, how to find out anything that they want to know and most importantly to love learning.
So, now that you’ve seen a few of the steps I’m taking to make this year great, what steps will you take to ensure that your upcoming year will please the Lord and be successful? I’d love to hear your ideas.