It is almost inevitable. At sometime during your homeschooling years, you will get sick. It could be something as commonplace as the cold or flu, or as monumental as a serious illness that requires long-term recovery. In either case, you may feel overwhelmed with worry that you will not be able to properly teach your children. But set your mind at ease! With a little flexibility and thinking outside the box, you can get through to the other side of illness and your kids will be no more worse for it.
Don’t try to do it all!
There is nothing set in stone that you have to keep following the same schedule of lessons you had while you were well. While you recover, prioritizing a few subjects that you feel need the most attention can help alleviate the pressure to do it all.
Use Digital Media Alternatives
Many streaming media services have a huge selection of documentaries and kid-friendly educational series that can provide beneficial learning opportunities. Some examples you may find on your service provider include The Magic School Bus, Carmen Sandiego, How It’s Made, Wild Kratts, the Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and many more.
If you don’t feel up to reading to your children, try an audiobook. My online favorite is LibriVox, but there are many other options out there, some free, some for a fee.
And don’t forget online curriculum options. You can find complete programs or supplements that can help your independent learner to stay on track with little assistance from you.
Have a Read-a-thon
While you are resting, have the kids grab some books and spend the time quietly reading. They can give you an oral summary of what they read or retell the story to you in their own words.
Or how about having the kids read a book that has been made into a movie? After they read the book, watch the movie together and have them compare the book to the movie or discuss which was better and why.
Workbooks, worksheets, coloring pages – oh my!
Use your down-time for the kids to get in some extra practice or to review previously learned skills with related workbooks and worksheets that require little from you for them to complete. Some good places to look for free worksheets online are Worksheet Fun, Teach-nology, Super Teacher Worksheets, and Easy Teacher Worksheets.
Or how about pulling out the crayons, markers and colored pencils and let the kids get creative with topical coloring pages from Super Coloring or 123 Homeschool 4 Me (bookmark this one because she has all kinds of free printables and worksheets that will come in handy).
Get Help from a Family Member or Older Child
It is ok to ask for help. If you are anything like me, I tend to feel like teaching my children is MY job and I need to be the one to do it. But I learned a valuable lesson and dropped the “martyr syndrome” quick when, after ignoring a stomach ache for months, it was discovered during my annual physical that it was something more serious. Tests were done immediately and it revealed there was something wrong with my appendix and I had to have an emergency appendectomy. Even in the ER I was telling them it was going to have to wait and that I homeschooled my kids and worked from home, and just needed to make arrangements. Good thing my oldest son and husband knocked some sense into me.
Turns out my appendix was gangrene and after the surgery there were other complications. I don’t recall ever being as sick as I was after having it removed and it took a few weeks to recover. I spent most of that time sleeping and was not able to do much of anything let alone homeschool my kids.
I am so grateful that my Dad was able to step in to not only teach my kids, but to take care of me while my husband was at work. Never having homeschooled before, he did an amazing job. They not only were able to do their assignments but he also shared stories with them about from his life from the 1940’s on, providing an invaluable insight into history and taught them things no book could teach.
Family and friends are a valuable asset to homeschoolers as they can provide much more than help when we are down. They often have a different perspective on teaching and our kids benefit greatly from them.
We never know when we are going to be sick but it is helpful to have a game plan in place ahead of time. Think about putting together a folder or box of things the kids can do in the event that you are unable to work with them on their schoolwork. I liked to include generic practice worksheets and puzzles, a list of books they could read, movies they could watch, and games they could play as well as vetted links to websites that provided online educational activities for them to do. If you haven’t already done it, teach your children how to work independently so that if you aren’t available they will still be able to do a majority of what needs to be done.
When You are Better, Don’t Play Catch-up
The beauty of educating our children at home is flexibility. We do not have to complete everything on our list. Many times after recovering from being sick we are tempted to cram everything we missed into a short time frame to catch up to our original plan. Step back and prioritize. Do we really need to do all the assignments in the book to learn the material or could we skip this or that and still achieve the goal? Or can we just start were we left off and focus on the important stuff? Take your time getting back into the routine and the rest will fall into place.
It is important to take care of yourself and you can survive homeschooling when you’re sick!