How to educate our children is a personal choice that each and every parent has to decide on. For our family homeschooling is the best option for us right now. It isn’t for everyone, but I want to share with you some of the reasons why I chose to home-school my children, and how my chronic illness impacts our school. I also want to share with you 7 ways to manage homeschooling if you are dealing with a chronic illness. Living with limits impacts each and every area of our lives and learning to cope and still thrive despite the illness is key.
Our Choice to Home-school
Homeschooling my kids has been a very easy choice for me. I did not have a good public school experience. I do know that my experience will not dictate my children’s experience, yet I am still wary of the public school system. I have really enjoyed homeschooling, I love how much I am getting to study and learn in the process it has been wonderful for me. In addition to my own personal enjoyment I am really thankful for the one-on-one focus time I get to have with each one of my kids. As we work through their lessons I get to spend special time with each of my kids. I wouldn’t have as much time with each one if we sent them to public or private school. In time my children may choose to attend public school and I plan to allow them to make that decision when the time is right. For now, we are happily working at home.
Home-school and Chronic Illness
There are many difficulties that can come up when one begins a home-school journey, and when momma has a chronic illness those difficulties can be even greater. So how does a mommy who may be very sick some days keep a consistent learning environment.
There are a few tricks I have learned as we have been moving through our home-school years. Currently we are in the middle of our third year of homeschooling and I am doing things a lot differently than I did when I first started this journey. Some tips I have found to be very helpful are:
- Keeping a regular schedule. – For me this is a vital component. Many home-school moms I know love the flexibility that comes with homeschooling and I do as well, but I have learned that when I stick to a fairly rigid school schedule and keep us to that schedule throughout the day I actually feel better. The more scheduled and regular the better. I find that when we have a change to our schedule I actually feel more stressed which can cause me to have a flare up.
- Knowing my limits. – There are some days when I just can’t do all the work that needs to be done. I am simply too tired. For those days I have copy work and other independent work that the kids can do with me close by. As my children are getting older this side is getting easier, but it takes planning to have a back up lesson available.
- Reducing outside activities – This is such a key factor in my life. I am learning that too much activity causes me a lot of problems with my health. The more overstimulated I am the less I am able to function well. This means I have to set up strict boundaries.
- Letting other things go. – This one has probably been one of my biggest challenges. I am learning to put aside the house cleaning so that I can actually get school done. I may see all the chores that need to be done, but I only have enough energy to do a limited amount of things. School takes a higher priority, leaving laundry unfolded or dishes not put away. I am learning to be OK with this.
- Creatively teaching. – One big advantage to homeschooling is that it can be done from a couch. I personally like to do our school from the spot that is the most comfortable for me. This changes depending on how I am feeling that day. Some days I am reclined on the couch and teaching all the kids at once or working one on one. Other days we are all together sitting at the kitchen table. Essentially, I am working to conserve energy. I want to get as much done as possible while resting as much as possible.
- Letting Go of Expectations – I had planned on joining a co-op when I first began homeschooling. There is a big problem with co-ops for us. They meet on a regular schedule and they require that I take a teaching or helping role of some kind. I can’t commit to something of that nature, so we are not able to participate in co-ops at this time. Perhaps in time that will change, but for now I just need to let that expectation go.
- Not comparing my home-school to someone else’s. – This is a big one. As I am learning to let go of expectations I need to be OK with my home-school not looking like someone else’s home-school. I am much more content when I focus on what my children are doing and how much they are learning rather than focusing on what someone else is doing in their school.
Ultimately living with a chronic illness is about learning to cope, and even thrive in spite of the struggles. It means learning to let go of our expectations and grabbing hold of the gifts that God gives us right in the middle of the struggles. Homeschooling has been a great choice for us and I am loving it more and more each day.