By Dawn Spence, SPED Homeschool Teaching Manager


Homeschooling is a great path to spending time with your family and loved ones. It can be hectic at times with lots to do and it can be peaceful at times. I have been on both sides of the coin. Some years are outright crazy and stressful. What do you do when life hits you with stress, illness, or both? This is when I feel like my teaching goes out the door, which stresses me out even more. How do you homeschool when everything is insane? The word that comes to my mind this year is grace. I have found four things that have given me perspective when dealing with illnesses in our home when I am the primary caregiver and teacher.


Look at what you can let go of:

I am type A personality, that likes all my ducks in a row, and this year my ducks aren’t in the same pond, let alone in a row! While focusing on my non-negotiables, I have learned to ease up on some subjects. I feel more pressure with a high school student to keep him on track, but even his schooling can take some breaks within limits. I can do less math for one week and assign more the next or assign fewer problems if he is understanding the lesson. This is where I am glad that we school in the summer, as that releases some of my mom guilt and pressure. 


Learn to be flexible: 

If things are chaotic and I lose my bearings, my children will still look to me for some stability. The best gift I can give my kids is the lesson that life is something that can not be predicted. We might wake up and because of unforeseen circumstances, our day takes a different turn. This life skill, of being able to adapt in the situation and not crater when an illness or stress comes on, can not be taught in a textbook. Honestly, this year I have been tested in this very area and some days I do better than others. If I don’t succeed, I need to grant myself grace.


Pick your path:

The biggest thing I need to remember in stressful times and in the chaos is that this is my journey and my path. Comparing myself to others, especially during a crisis, just causes me more stress. I know that this is not the time to get on social media. I ‌look and see how it is going for others, which can cause a pity party or going down a rabbit-hole and still my stress is there. During this hectic time, I choose to take some time and evaluate my path. Maybe I need a 5 minute time out, a hot bath, or chocolate. Whatever I do or how I handle my situation, it’s my way, and it is not wrong.


Ask for help:

This one is hard for me. I was brought up to just do it. Sometimes, I need outside help. Many times when others ask what they can do to help, I feel like it is my burden alone. This is where I usually pray for help and strength and sometimes that answered prayer is help from others. When help comes, I need to accept it and let people in to help. Battling my stress and crisis on my own is not a badge of honor. Reducing my stress helps me become a better mom and teacher.


Stress and crisis might show up at any time, but learning how to give yourself grace and work through it is the key to mental wellness.


Dawn Spence is a homeschooling mother of three who left her special education teaching career to stay home and teach her own children. She is a gifted instructor who has the ability to bring out the teacher in everyone, especially showing parents how to modify curriculum to meet the specific learning needs of their child. Dawn works as the SPED Homeschool Teaching Manager, coordinating blogging content with the SPED Homeschool partners and team members.




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By Kimberly Vogel


During times of crisis, it’s okay to take a break from homeschooling. In fact, when situations become stressful or time consuming, a break from core curriculum is best, especially if you know you won’t be able to teach adequately.


School just started, but I’ve already talked to moms in crisis mode. Right now, many families in Houston are displaced after Hurricane Harvey. Due to this area-wide crisis, a homeschooling crisis conversation today started with these questions: “How can I homeschool my daughter when I’m trying to find us a place to live and clothes and food? What can I do this week while I work on the details? We are in crisis mode!”


5 Things Kids Always Need

Whether your crisis involves your children, is short-term, or long-term, due to sickness, death or catastrophe, some things don’t change. Therefore, before you take a break, here are some key tips to keep in mind.

  1. Kids need structure. The sooner you can get back to a routine, the better. It creates normalcy and a sense of well being. On hard days, as an overwhelmed parent, the last thing on our minds is keeping a routine. But for our kids, adding structure can make the difference between an upset or calm household.
  2. Kids can regress in skills. This happens in the summer. It is called “Summer Learning Loss”. But, with some creative use of apps, regression can easily be curved. Here are several apps to keep minds focused on learning while giving mom a break.
  3. Kids benefit from partial breaks. A partial break can be more effective than a full break. During a full break, there is too much down time or unstructured, worrisome thinking time. Kids do need time to process stress, but too much time can lead to misbehavior, worries, or even depression. A partial break can be homeschooling half days, a day on followed by a day off, or only doing some subjects. The beauty of homeschooling, is it is flexible. Lessons don’t need to look like textbooks. Additionally, serving during times of crisis teaches more than any book can.
  4. Kids bounce back or shrink back. In times of stress, kids either bounce back and shine or shrink back and struggle. If your child is struggling, a partial break or full break (recovery time) is necessary. But, if your child shows no sign of struggle, an unnecessary break could set them back.
  5. Kids need you. Take care of yourself mom! In times of crisis, moms are the ones taking care of details. We hold things together while often not taking care of ourselves. Don’t forget to make sure your basic needs are met and you get a bit of downtime. Your kids need you at your best! The best way to take care of yourself is through your relationship with Christ. In the middle of our crisis, He can be your stability. In your storm, He can be your peace.


Ultimately, we don’t want tough situations to arise, but life is hard. Death happens, hurricanes flood our land, and sickness sneaks up on us.  I know this from experience.  Last year my family took a homeschool break at my father-in-law’s home going.   What I learned through that experience was, opening room in your plans for breaks, helps with the stress of homeschooling during life’s unexpected crises.



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