Homeschooling definitely has its good days and bad days. Just like anything else that you do. But that insecure feeling of, “ Am I covering it all, doing enough?” can be compounded when you have a child or children that are sick a lot, chronically ill, has an injury or just sick for the day.
Unfortunately, I’ve had more experience with this than I’d like. But it could always have been worse. So, what do you do when your days of homeschooling and wannabe class time is taken up by fevers, doctor visits, surgery, recovery time and days when they are just worn out and could use a little rest? First of all, take a deep breath relax. A stressed out mom never helps anyone. Sorry to be blunt here, but it’s the truth. I have to repeat it to myself all the time.
One of the first things you have to do after you relax is to look at your situation. Every situation and child is going to be different. Try to put your school day/week/year into perspective. Where ever you are at the moment in your school year, take a day or two and look at where you are at. What do you really have to get done? Pare down to the bare essentials for a while. Maybe you planned a really involved unit study, but now maybe you should take a look at it and decide which parts of it you really want to do or need to do. Maybe you could drop a few projects or outside classes. I love Tapestry of Grace, but when one daughter had to have her ACL replaced and the youngest was in terrible pain day after day, it became overwhelming. I was stressed and the kids were stressed. We got way behind. I am not afraid to admit it!
Then I looked at it, and decided that it would be much simpler for me to use the spine books (Story of the World and Streams of Civilization) instead of all the literature books. It cut down on my trips to the library and the frustration and stress of trying to hunt down the books they asked for, or trying to figure out replacement books. Those of you that use Tapestry know what I’m talking about! I stopped worrying about trying to fit in all of the subjects that it covers and went back to the ones we needed. Language Arts and Literature, math, science, history, Bible, 2 electives. I took a hard look at what was needed by our state for graduation and college and that’s what I’m going by now.
Have you ever heard the expression “K.I.S.S” Keep It Simple Sweety? That’s it in nutshell. Keep your school simple. It is so liberating! I stopped worrying about what everyone said I needed to do or accomplish and figured out what we really needed and wanted to do. I found what worked best for my family, through some trial and error.
I’ve also adjusted myself somewhat to doing school year round. When I layout my school calendar for the year, I work in extra time for sick days. I have a projected day to end school instead of a hard and fast date. I try really hard to make it to that date, but if we need to work on something over the summer, then that’s ok, too.
I also know that some days, no matter how well planned they are, will just be awful. On those days, I have to take a moment and try to figure out why. Is it the medicine they’re on? Is it that they just don’t feel that great? Did I put too much on them to get done? Some days you can only get done, what you can get done and then you have to call it a day. Make sure you are not overscheduling your lesson plans. Maybe you need to look at doing a block schedule. That way each day, you’re only doing 4 subjects/classes. Think about doing subjects on alternating days.
Maybe you could join a co-op and someone else teach a subject or two. Be careful though, some co-ops are really rigid and some are very flexible. Do research and find one that works for you. Can’t find one? Get with some friends and start your own and alternate teaching. It might help you to have a subject or two where you can share the load with someone else. It might even help your child.
Another thing to think about maybe the curriculum you’re using. Like I said earlier, Tapestry wasn’t working due to the weightiness of the curriculum and we needed to pare it down and go simpler. I know some of my friends have switched to Switched on Schoolhouse for their kids. That way they didn’t have to teach everything and if they needed to be with another child, everything pretty much was taken care of. Some have switched to a more traditional approach to make planning easier (Abeka or Bob Jones for example) and they feel better knowing everything is covered.
For me personally, I have gone to a more Charlotte Mason/Eclectic approach. Short lessons that are to the point, but I can be creative on weeks or days when we have the time. Like I said earlier, I checked with my state graduation requirements for going to college, so I know that even though I use a hodgepodge of stuff, they are still getting everything they need. You don’t have to abandon what curriculum you’re currently using. That’s way too expensive! Just re-adjust what you have.
Keep it simple! Remember you have to do what works for your family. No one else can tell you exactly how to do it. There will be days when you just have to call it quits for the day and try again tomorrow. There are days when you can push them through and days you will need to move slowly. Just take them as they come and do your best. Be patient. Listen to how your child feels and adjust, but don’t let them rule the roost either. In other words, don’t allow them to use their illness/injury as a way to worm out of doing school, be discerning. Make sure you as a mom are not overscheduling yourself and join a homeschool support group. Make friends for you and your kids and get out of the house! But above all, pray and let the Lord guide you. You will get it done, even if it’s in small bites and be patient. Not only with your child but with yourself.