SPED Homeschool Team

Every month, we ask our SPED Homeschool team to provide insight into their own personal journey with homeschooling. This month we asked a few of our team members about what they do for homeschooling when a family member is ill. Here are ways our team homeschools when…

 

When a child has a chronic illness

“Homeschooling through an illness looks differently depending on who is sick. If my daughter with chronic medical issues is ill, everyone else will continue with their day’s work. My daughter will be given time to rest and medical interventions, if necessary. If I need to be more hands-on with her, we might have a movie day and watch documentaries that pertain to our learning. I always have backup plans just in case this happens. My other two children have learned to adapt to their sister’s needs. I allow my other kiddos sick days as they come up as well. We homeschool year-round to make up for periods of sickness. If I am ill, I teach from my recliner and we make things work as well as we can. What I have learned is to give myself lots of grace and remember that I am not chained to a timeline.” – Dawn Spence 

 

When a parent has a chronic illness

“Over our years of homeschooling, we have dealt with short-term illnesses like colds, the flu, and other small health hiccups that disrupted our schedule for maybe a day or two. In those days, my kids would often lament that homeschooling was not fair because, even though they were sick, they still had to do schoolwork. I have to admit, it wasn’t always easy to keep them learning when we weren’t feeling our best, but these times taught my children that we do our best with what we have been given.

“But then sometimes prolonged illnesses affected our learning, like the lengthy battles  both my boys had in overcoming childhood depression. Many days our school lessons were not focused on our core subjects because mental healing was more important than learning to read, write, or do math. And, those days I pushed the curriculum over working on mental health, I quickly realized my son wasn’t grasping the lessons or engaging with the content. He was just physically in the room with his mind in a different place. 

“Now, entering my last year of homeschooling my youngest, I am the one battling an illness – cancer. My life has been upended with weekly doctor appointments, surgeries, and more, all while I do my best to help her keep a regular schedule. Needless to say, in planning out this year, I have taken on teaching in areas where I feel my presence will have the greatest impact. And, for the rest of her curriculum, I have prayerfully outsourced her teaching to tutors or self—paced online programs. I just can’t do everything and have the time and energy I need to devote to my healing.

“Life has seasons of health and illness and those seasons affect how we homeschool. Health issues that families face should never be used as excuses to forgo the calling to homeschool. It may just look different in each of those seasons.” – Peggy Ployhar

 

When there are multiple appointments

“Concerning homeschooling through illness, we just don’t. We are rarely sick, so when we are, we skip those days of school and don’t make them up. That is what happens in public schools. We frequently do have “bad days” where attention just isn’t there because of autism, or my son is having a poor vision day. I build in a make-up week half-way through the school year and another at the end of the school year in the same way some schools have snow days. When we have doctor appointments, I may do half-days depending on if it is just any easy check-up or a long, tough one. The long ones count as a bad day and we do not have school. We have also counted therapy as part of the curriculum because that is what would have happened if he had been in school getting services at school. We just did academics half-day on those days. Speech therapy and occupational therapy counted as language arts as he worked on wh- questions, pronoun usage, and prepositions in speech and handwriting in OT. We just did the math and either history or science on those days.” –  Lara Lee

 

When there is a pandemic

“Just ten days after it felt like the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, my husband was unexpectedly hospitalized. By then, my kids were already feeling the changes in the world around them. We were having to distance from family and friends, and our many activities suddenly closed. School and learning were the only consistent things. During this time, we kept our schedule of morning nature walks and schoolwork at the table each morning. We cooked our meals together at home. We relied on neighbors and friends to bring us some toilet paper and a few groceries. I knew that my kids needed the routine even more because everything else in life at that time was chaotic.” – Melissa Schumacher

 

Check out these other SPED Homeschool Team blogs for more inspiration:

Homeschooling Organization Tips that Work

Best Homeschooling Advice for Special Education Homeschool Moms

Avoiding Burnout as a Homeschool Mom

Our Favorite Internet Resources for Homeschooling Special Ed

First Year Homeschooling Lessons

50+ Ideas for Homeschool Extracurriculars

Looking for alternative homeschooling activities when sickness has “rained out” your homeschool schedule for the day? Try one of these low-key learning activities.

 

 

 

 

 


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We all learn very quickly, that even though we may have established a routine, and are plugging along at our homeschool days, things can quickly derail us. Illness is a huge problem for many people. Illness of a child, illness of the parent, or even illness of a family member that we are responsible for can affect our schedules. We have dealt with many of these in our family, and since I’m dealing with the flu this week, I thought I would share my approach to them.


7 Tip for Homeschooling During an Illness

#1 – Keep a Balance
Do not try to be superhuman and ignore the illness! Usually our bodies are trying to tell us something when we feel bad. We need rest, we need nutrition, we need a little TLC. As caregivers, we are not always the best at taking care of ourselves, so if your body lets you know you are sick, heed the warning. The same is true for our children. Sometimes they simply need rest. 

#2 –  Allow for Rest
Prime learning does not take place when children are run down and sick. It’s easy to stay in the mindset that school has to take place every day for a certain number of hours, but it’s simply not true. Learning takes place all the time, in all good environments, but it doesn’t usually take place when the participants are sick and run down. Don’t try to muddle through and “check your boxes” for the day. You are free; allow you or your child to rest if it is needed.

#3 – Learning Happens Everywhere
Learning can happen snuggled up under a blanket on the couch. Do you know how many fabulous things my children and I have learned by turning on a kids educational program, documentary, mini-series or YouTube video? Countless! We use them all the time. If you or your child are up to it, turn on a video. Our favorites are: Sid the Science Kid, Magic School Bus, Signing Time, Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Liberty Kids, and many PBS history shows. My kids learn so much from a visual/audio learning experience.

#4 – Insert Books
If you or your child feel like it, break open the books. Read-alouds are wonderful for sick days (well, if the person reading isn’t the one who is sick). Audio books can also be used. My girls like to color or build with blocks while listening to their audiobooks.

#5 – Housework Can Take Backseat
Sometimes, you must ignore the housework completely. I’ve met a lot of homeschooling mamas that really can’t ever give themselves permission to let the housework slide. I am here to tell you…when you are ill, there is only so much energy you can exert. Sometimes, feeding the children and keeping everyone alive is all you can do!! Don’t fret! Let the kids “help” all they can and just face the housework when you are well.

#6 – Reach Out For Help
If an illness for you, your child or a loved one is extended, don’t be afraid to ask others for help. We all need to lean on others at certain times. Don’t be afraid to reach out for any help, when needed. I’ve been through some rough times with sarcoma and unexpected surgeries. One of my sweet friends set up a meal train to come every couple of days for several weeks. It was such a huge blessing. Food literally just showed up at my doorstep and I didn’t have to cook it. Sometimes asking for help with cooking, cleaning, laundry or anything can free up the time you need to keep you sane.  

#7 – Give Yourself Grace
This really has to go for every aspect of our lives. But if someone is sick, remember to give everyone grace for schooling. You are not confined to anyone else’s schedule. Sometimes the greatest lessons our children can learn are not their ABC’s or 123’s, but they are learning to care for and love each other during the best and worst of times. What you are doing while caring for them and others will not go unnoticed. They will learn to love by your example. Press on! 

 

 


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