Homeschooling When Life Happens, Pt 1

    Homeschooling While Chronically Ill

There are a growing number of families joining the homeschool movement simply because of chronic illness, either in the child or the parent. Homeschooling while life happens (death, accident, illness) really brings the beauty of homeschooling to the forefront.

I homeschooled as a single parent while sick with undiagnosed Lyme disease, with a child who had a long list of diagnoses of special challenges. Looking back, I’m not sure how I really managed to, not only to survive, but to have a son who ended up thriving. I think the first thing I had to do as a college-trained teacher was to forget everything I was taught in college, and allow God to guide me. He knew my needs and my son’s needs in a way no one else did. He knew the special method of learning my son needed. So, I learned to let go of the controls and allow God to show me what to do.

In this series of articles, I will share some of my methods of coping while dealing with illness. This first post will contain ideas on what to do when there is the unexpected happening. Maybe there is a short-term illness, an accident, or a death in the family. Maybe the family has decided to move during the school year or just before the year starts. Over the years, I’ve read many questions on how to handle school when life happens. I hope this will give you some ideas next time the unplanned occurs.

You get the phone call. Grandma has hurt herself and needs you to come and provide some short-term care until she is able to provide for herself again. What do you do when you have children you are responsible for teaching?

First, remember the overall picture. With homeschooling, there is the final goal to keep in mind. Is it really that important that every subject is learned in a specific time frame as it is in public school? What is more important? That the material is learned now or that they know it before they move out?

The younger the children, the less important the formal studies are. The older the child, the more likely they are to be able to learn more independently.

For the young ones (8 years or older), I would focus on reading and writing. It’s not hard to take a few non-fiction books from the library, a notebook or two, and art supplies. Taking a laptop is a given. With internet connection, children of all ages can access a countless supply of educational videos, ranging from math, foreign language, to the varied sciences. I would use the notebook to keep track of what they watched and what topic was covered. For those under 8, I would forget about school and just read and play as time permits.

Depending on the grade level, I would perhaps have the child create a project based on the videos. This could be a model or poster or art rendition. The main idea is to give the child a way to freely express what stood out to them in the video.

Keeping things simple is the guideline here. The child, no matter the age, can help in some way with what is going on in the home of the sick/injured person. This teaches some very important concepts that will grow children more service oriented as God wishes us to be.

For the older child, they can explore the state you are visiting (if leaving the home state). A simple geography unit will give the parent plenty of material. Another idea would be to print out a lapbook unit for the child to complete more independently. Educational videos abound online. This could be an opportunity to allow the older child to explore personal interests. They could examine educational requirements for careers, typical pay, testing requirements, etc. They could even use the financial information to form a budget and figure out the costs they may encounter.

The idea here is to be flexible. In times of short-term illness, the child can benefit greatly in learning how to live life as it happens. Relying on God is also an important lesson. Sticking together through thick and thin is another important point.

Keep things simple and demonstrate relying on God. Formal learning can wait until life assumes normality again.

In the case of homeschooling with long-term chronic health issues, if you need help or to brainstorm ideas, feel free to contact me at