Nov 2, 2016

Should You Homeschool if You Have a Chronic Illness?

Deciding to homeschool is a deeply personal choice, but if you have a chronic illness or serious medical condition that choice becomes a very complicated matter.

Homeschooling isn't supposed to be bringing "school" into the home. The purpose of homeschooling has always been to keep the family together, to make learning a part of every day life, and to nurture a child's natural desire to learn about spirituality, nature and all the things that he or she encounters on a daily basis.

Regardless of the method or style a family chooses, homeschooling has proven to be a successful way to educate ones children. Generally, homeschooling families enjoy learning and exploring together in a more relaxed and nurturing way.

I homeschooled for 6 years before I started having Lyme symptoms. By that time we had found our favorite ways of learning and were comfortable with our routines both for education and home life.

Once I became sick our entire homeschool changed, our methods changed, our curriculum changed and our schedules changed.  You can read my post Chronically Ill Homeschooling Part 2 - When Mom Is Sick.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with chronic tick-borne infections my children were also diagnosed. Continuing to homeschool was the best option for us because my kids were too sick to go to school. Our reasons and goals for homeschooling hadn't changed either so we felt it was the best option for us.

While I can't speak so much about the choice to begin your homeschooling journey due to an illness, I can share my experience and perspective of actually living this lifestyle. Obviously, this is a deeply personal choice either way and one that requires a lot of prayer and consideration.

If you're trying to decide whether or not homeschooling would work for you, spend some time thinking about these questions.

1. Why do I want to homeschool or continue to homeschool if I'm already doing it?
2. Have I prayed about this with my spouse?
3. How does my spouse feel about this?
4. How much time will be required to homeschool my child or children?
5. Am I capable of spending the time needed to oversee my children's day to day learning and if not, is there someone else who can?
6. Will I have the support of my husband, family member or trusted friend if my health declines?
7. Will my children be able to emotionally handle being with me if I'm always sick.
8. Will my children be able to spend time outdoors, on field trips or in any other outside activity?
9. Will it be easier to homeschool than to get my child to school, attend activities, field trips, and help with their homework and projects assigned by a school teacher?
10. How does your child feel about being homeschooled or attending school outside the home?
11. Is there a co-op or a friend that could take some of the burden off by teaching a few classes?
12. Is your child old enough to work independently?

These questions are important to consider especially if you are very sick and the child is not.

Sometimes we don't consider how our sickness impacts our children. Their personality may make it better for them to be close to you through this time or they may really need to have time to be out of the house. This doesn't necessarily mean they should go to school, just that they will need more time to be with friends or in outside activities.

Children can easily participate in online classes with a virtual teacher who does all the lesson planning and grading but homeschooling is much more than textbook learning.

It's so important for our children to have balanced relationships with their family and with others, to be able to explore and to have time to try new things. Don't forget that the Internet allows for virtual experiences that greatly impact your children.

Sometimes a health crisis is only temporary but when it's long term homeschooling could be difficult and finding ways to provide enriching activities can be a little more challenging but it can be done.

When children reach middle and high school years some children want to be on the move, they have a deeper desire to explore the world around them. This doesn't always mean they should, again, that is a decision for each family.

Some children feel that being home all the time with a sick mom is a burden they can't carry, so making opportunities for them to be with others is important. When they're older you might allow them to serve in the community or get christian service hours. Many teens are ready for a part time job and these are all great ways to ensure they are getting the experiences they need. 

You can homeschool when you're sick but make sure your children are being nourished in every area of their lives, not just educational book work.

Remember, God is faithful in our homeschool but He is also faithful if you choose to place your children in a school outside of your home.

The most important advice I can give is to pray and seek God's will for your family, your children and your marriage.

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