Chronic illness stinks. It stinks that my children know what to do in an emergency and all but the youngest know by listening to me when to run for the nebulizer and saline without even asking. It stinks to see fear in your child’s eyes when they think you are going to die right in front of them. It stinks that my little boys are shocked when I manage to get down on the floor and play with them because it happens so rarely. I hate my chronic illness for myself, but I hate it more for my kids.
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I’ve had people ask – how do you homeschool with chronic illness? Is that even possible? And the easy answer is “Yes, of course!” But we all know its not quite as simple as that. Most days, I can do what it takes to homeschool by accommodating my disease and working around the issues that come with it. We still do everything we need to do and most of the things we want to do.
But, every situation is different and the affects of chronic illness can be staggering. So truly, the answer to “Is homeschooling successfully with chronic illness possible.” is — “It depends on how much you are dealing with and perhaps even how much help you have. And its not going to be easy. But it can be done.”
I don’t think homeschooling is ever easy, but chronic illness adds an extra layer of hard to just about everything. Homeschooling is not the exception.
6 Ways to Start Homeschooling Successfully with Chronic Illness
So how do I homeschool with chronic illness? I’m sharing my answers to that question here in the hopes that it will help and encourage you.
- Start early teaching your children to work independently. Children who can read can work on science, history, literature, and more without any interaction from a teacher. You hold your child accountable to get the work done, but teach them to do the work without your direct interaction.
- Utilize video and online homeschool options. My children all learn math by watching videos. I spend precious time with them making sure they did work correctly and answering any questions they might have. But I don’t have to actually teach the lesson.
- Listen to audiobooks together in the car and in your home. So much learning happens through audiobooks. It is not always possible for a mom with chronic illness to read aloud and audiobooks are an amazing substitute for that and then some.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Chronic illness craves rest. (Put another way, chronic illness causes exhaustion and sometimes we don’t even realize how exhausted we’ve become.) Have a quiet time in the afternoon when everyone in the family lays down for an hour or so. Rest.
- Get help. When my oldest kids were young, I hired a twelve-year-old mother’s helper to come in and play with them while I rested or worked. It wasn’t long before my oldest was able to be that help. I also have an amazing mother-in-law who likes to come in and take over when my body requires surgery, usually before and after so I have time to get things done before and rest/recover after. Help might mean hiring someone to clean and making sacrifices to do so. It might mean asking your small group or circle of friends.
- Teach life skills. If your children learn to do chores and learn valuable life skills like cooking and cleaning and car repair and yard maintenance, they will have a leg up on life and be a huge help at home – especially as they enter the teen years. Here is a free printable chore chart by age.
How do you cope with chronic illness in your homeschool?