Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tips for Chronically Ill Homeschool Moms

Every week, The Oldschool House magazine does a Minute to Minute email where other homeschool mom's answer a question posed by a homeschool mom. This week, they had tips for homeschooling with chronical illness. This was an encouragement to me since I basically have to do that with my PMDD the way it currently is. Thought I'd share the answers with others.

Lessons From The Couch
Dear Vicki,

I have been living with a chronic illness for the past 25 years. I just started homeschooling this year and face the issue of not being able to get up and work with my son at least once a week. A long time ago I came to the realization that some days things just don't get done, and if I stress over this fact, then everyone suffers. I also know that my faith and prayer help me to get through each day and have helped me to rethink my priorities and focus on what is really important. The dishes will still be there tomorrow, but you can't get back missed opportunities to teach your children true life lessons.

I'm lucky to have a laptop and wireless service in my home which makes things a lot easier. I get the lap desk, the laptop, and all of his books, and we curl up on the couch. I let my son snuggle up to me as we go through the lessons; then when he needs to do written work, he just scoots over and does it. I always print out the week's schedule so that I know what lessons need to be done that week, because there are days when I can't do anything, including my son's lessons. With the week's schedule in hand, I can add the missed lessons into the remaining lessons for that week, and this keeps us from falling behind. I also work with my son on the weekend to catch up if need be.

On those days when teaching is out, I have my son "play" games on the computer that teach math, reading, etc. I also make sure he does his reading for that day. We will either read together or he will read to me and then he will spend time reading a book or magazine article of his choice. I hope my experiences will help you get through the coming months. I will also be praying for you and your family.

A chronically ill homeschool mom,

Learning Through Playing
Dear Vicki,

I have homeschooled for years with chronic back pain. I never had the need of surgery as God gave me relief through upper cervical (spine) care and massage. So the pain has been bearable but it has been on and off all these years.

For us, that meant that "school" took place wherever I was most comfortable at the time. We rarely sat in desks or did all the traditional work, but we had many, many hours of family reading and school in all rooms of the house. I found that my children kept learning, even when I was unable to supervise their every activity. We have a home full of learning resources, and I am convinced that kids will explore whatever we make available to them. We cannot keep them from learning.

My number-one recommendation is to fill your home with good books, encyclopedias, learning games, etc. They will learn while they play.

I am sure you are already involving them in household activities, but remember that some of the best learning takes place in the home, doing household cleaning and chores. Teaching them to do life skills, and encouraging them to do them regularly will help them throughout their lives.

I commend you for looking for ways to continue in spite of your pain. I know God will bless you!God bless you,

From the Experienced . . .
I have had several surgeries and suffer with severe back pain constantly. I currently homeschool two, 12-year-olds (one is adopted and has only been here two years) and a 6-year-old. I want to encourage you that schooling from the bed (or couch, often in my case) can be great. There are times I get really down, but often the kids don't notice. We use a literature-based curriculum and have a blast reading books and playing games. I think my kids will be better off as young adults having helped and served the family in the many ways they do. They still have friends over and sleepovers and play. As your kids are old enough, they can learn to cook and bake, just make it fun and easy--let them experiment and be super silly. Your attitude will define the home. Yes, it's really hard on those extra painful days (like today), but they can laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry. My 6-year-old is always bringing me stuffed animals and making me cards to help mommy feel better. It's so sweet. I will pray for you to heal and to be strengthened in the meantime. ~Lisa

I suffer from frequent migraine headaches. This makes functioning, much lesshomeschooling, difficult. What I do to get through the migraine days is prepare for the week with a file-folder basket with daily folders for each child. I have two boys, 7 and 9 years old. Each week, I will prepare their daily assignment sheet with their math and grammar assignments and put their worksheets for the day in that day's folder. If I have a migraine, they will do their math and grammar on their own, the best they can, helping each other, and I will check their worksheets when I am feeling better. We do unit studies for science and history, so I will have them read to me either while I'm in the bed or on the couch, and we'll do our activity the next day when I feel better. When I have a migraine, they play online math games, play store, do Mad Libs (great for reinforcing parts of speech and spelling), play board games such as Junior Monopoly, and of course their "free reading." They can make their own lunch and wash their dishes and understand that they need to be quiet while Mommy recovers. These are important "life lessons" that they could never learn if they went to public school. Best wishes on your upcoming surgery! ~BethI have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and homeschool a 7- and 5-year-old with a toddler underfoot. Most days I'm not sure how I'm doing it, but I've definitely learned to believe in God's daily grace! Your children are older so I'm not sure what help I'll be but, for what it's worth, I would suggest three things: 1) Re-define "normal" for you and your family. Try not to compare yourself with other homeschool families or even with yourself. Thinking about what "should be" normal or what "could be" normal isn't helpful. Just figure out what works for you now, in this present season, and let that be your "normal." 2) Partialize everything. That means taking larger tasks and breaking them down into bits and pieces so that they're manageable and you actually have success. This includes homeschooling tasks as well as home keeping chores. 3) Delegate whenever possible. In fact, if you have the means or can move your budget around a bit, get someone to come in and do some cleaning for you--or some other chore--even if it's just a bath/kitchen clean once a month or something. Blessings to you and your family! ~McHugh

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