by the SPED Homeschool Team
Learn how three long-time special needs homeschooling moms learned to balance education and medical needs in their homes by properly orienting priorities, energy, and choices.
Home educating through illnesses is something our team wrote about a few years ago, just as I was going through the third of three surgeries in 2020. What I learned through that experience is that priorities are a must because there isn’t time to do everything you would like to do when illness upends your life. However, there is always time for the things you put at the top of your list as long as you focus on prioritizing them. For school work, that means numbering subjects in order of importance and then doing them in that order. For daily chores, it means doing your best to have everyone focus on the day’s top chore and being thankful if it gets done between doctor appointments planned or not, necessary breaks for cuddles, telling your kids how much you love them, and taking a much needed nap.The best advice I can give, though, is to focus on what you have to be thankful for each day. Even if it was the gift of another day of life that you get to spend with your kids because you are blessed with the opportunity to homeschool.
The amount of school we do is in inverse proportion to the severity of what’s going on, be it illness or sensory meltdowns. We take sick days when we are really sick. When things are milder and ongoing, I try to get at least some school done. We may not do core subjects those days because I’d rather have my child at full capacity for those. We might do low-energy activities that teach the same material, like watch videos, or explore the topic in ways other than using our regular curriculum. That way, learning continues, but not at the same intensity or duration as a normal school day. Once the crisis has passed, we get back on track.
Many types of illnesses have affected our family and our homeschool life over the years. The first question I try to ask myself is what am I willing to give up and what is my goal at the time. Small quick illnesses I give whoever is sick a day or two of rest and then we pick back up. The chronic illnesses are the ones that I have to ask myself what is the most important need right now. When I studied education we learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and basically the bottom of the pyramid is that if our basic physiological needs are not being met like sleep, food, breathing and I will add in here being well our motivation will be low resulting in low output. This is what I try to remember during illnesses: do I just want stuff done for the sake of getting it done or do I want it done well? The times when we are going through more chronic issues, I use more games, documentaries, movies that touch on what we are learning, and most important rest. Rest during an illness is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. Our bodies need rest to heal, and it is important that we learn to listen to our bodies. Finding a place where you are comfortable letting up on school during an illness is a personal choice, but sometimes we have no choice but to stop and heal and that is okay.