This article is about two moms who share their stories of homeschooling their children while they battled through their personal illness.

First Interview

Homeschool Mom Homeschooling Through Lupus

What are some of the struggles of learning to homeschool while coping with your personal illness”?

The struggles of homeschooling that I had to deal with while experiencing chronic illness, (in my case autoimmune disease) were too many to list. However, the major struggles were actually feeling well enough to get school in for the day, the disappointment of my children because they couldn’t be involved in all the extra activities that were presented to us, and the feeling that I was somehow doing a disservice to my children because I had chosen to homeschool.

Lupus Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2009. At that time, I was teaching third grade at a local private school. In the  Spring of 2013, my husband and I found we were expecting our fourth child. So, after careful prayer and consideration, we decided it would be best for our family if we came home and schooled our children starting in the Fall of that same year.

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Our first year went, well, not as expected. I had placed so many expectations on myself as a mother, as a teacher, and as a wife. But, none of those expectations were very realistic. I had managed to treat and control most of my symptoms with medication. However, the fatigue that came with autoimmune disease and a newborn kept us from doing all the things I thought we would do that first year.

Another Diagnosis

The following year, I was diagnosed with renal failure. Lupus had attacked my kidneys and I was going to have to go through extensive medical treatments to regain my health. These treatments would leave me bedridden for days at a time. The whole second year of our homeschooling journey was a blur. I had several hospital stays that left me wondering how I would ever get the kids “caught up” in their school work.

The third year of our homeschool was a continuation of the second. Doctors visits, hospital stays many days that I just was not able to “do school” with the kids. It was at this point that I seriously started to consider putting my older two children in public school (the younger two were not school age).

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What has been the hardest thing to overcome in homeschooling while coping with your personal illness”?

I feel like the hardest thing I had to overcome was my own idea of what school was supposed to be. I started out thinking we would spend four to five hours a day doing “school work”. I had dreams of elaborate unit studies, reading all the classic novels to my children as they eagerly listened to every word, and going on many glorious outings that would leave my youngsters thrilled with what they had learned, yet longing to learn even more. NOT! That was NOT how our homeschool looked through this time, and you know what?

It’s not what our homeschool looks like now that I’m healthy. I felt defeated by my own body during the time of my most sick days. I felt like lowering my expectations was admitting failure. But, looking back, I’m not thankful for the illness, but I am thankful for the perspective it gave me about homeschooling. My own attitude and expectations were the hardest thing I had to overcome.

How has coping with your personal illness prohibited you from homeschooling and how were you able to accommodate?

With chronic illness, you never know day to day how you will feel. I could make plans for weeks in advance, but have to cancel the day of, because I just could not physically do it. This would leave my children disappointed to the point of tears, which, let’s face it will break a mother’s heart.

Making Accommodations

The only way I knew to accommodate for these instances was to promise my kids an impromptu outing on the next day that I felt like I could do it. So, there were several trips that we took, just us, to local parks, the science center down the road a bit, and local historical sites. These places didn’t always correspond to the topics they were covering in their studies, but it got us out of the house and they felt like they had been on a “field trip”, even though it wasn’t with their homeschool group friends.

When Accommodations Would Fall Through

Chronic illness also kept us from doing school every day. There were days I was hospitalized. The days I had to receive treatments were long. I had to drive an hour from home, stay in the hospital for the day, and then return home, usually right at bedtime or even later. The days following treatments left me exhausted and in the bed. I would try to schedule
my treatments for Fridays, so I would have the weekend to recover.

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But sometimes, the hospital couldn’t accommodate me, and I would have to go midweek. Other times, the treatments would leave me wiped out for three or four days. The best way I knew to accommodate for this was to get in the basics. Reading, Math, and Language were covered on the days I was well enough to “do school”.

Homeschooling is a LifeStyle

On the days I wasn’t able to “do school”, we watched videos, the kid read books, we worked on “life skills” (chores), and they played board games and card games together. This is where I saw with my own eyes that learning isn’t always books, pencils, and paper. And this is also where I saw my oldest son start to learn and retain more because the information was being presented to him in ways that were not the “typical” or the “norm”.

Did you ever consider giving up homeschooling for a time?

I had seriously considered giving up homeschooling and sending my kids back to the private school we had left. I felt like they were falling behind. I felt like I wasn’t doing them justice by keeping them home, only to spend most days doing workbooks, watching documentaries, and reading the chapter book of their choice.

I thought  about all the things they were missing out on, but it wasn’t until I took the time to see all the things they were gaining by being at home, that I decided to cut myself some slack, to show myself some grace, and continue on with this journey that I knew would  ultimately be the best for my children.

What would you like other homeschoolers who are dealing with similar struggles to know that might encourage them?

I knew that I had been called to homeschool. There are just some things as mothers that we KNOW beyond a  shadow of a doubt. However, when struggling with the “hard things”, it’s very easy to feel defeated and to feel like you’re somehow failing your children. I received so much encouragement from several homeschooling moms in my community. They would cheer me on
on my good days, and show grace and love on my bad days. I read Sara MacKenzie’s book “Teaching From Rest”, which was such an eye-opener.

The thing that I would want other homeschooling moms to understand, who struggle with chronic illness it this. The call to homeschool is so much greater than what we’re feeling on any given day. School doesn’t have to be “picture perfect” for learning to take place. In the midst of all of the struggles and hardships that my family had to endure because of chronic illness,
we grew closer as a family.

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This article is about two moms who share their stories of homeschooling their children while they battled through their personal illness.

I knew what my children were studying and what progress they were making. But more than that, I saw my children learn to serve one another, learn to help around the house, learn to see a need and help to meet that need without being told or even asked. 

There’s so much more to homeschooling than a pencil to paper, and the Lord blessed you with those children of yours because He knew you would be the best person to teach them, to love them, and to nurture them into the young men and women He has called them to be.

2nd Interview

Homeschool Mom Homeschooling Through Cancer

Were there any struggles in learning to homeschool while coping with your personal illness”?

During the cancer surgery and treatment phase, we had weeks where I simply couldn’t do much schooling. The kids spent more time helping do the daily work like cooking and laundry and we spent many hours on the road to and from appointments.

What has been the hardest thing to overcome in homeschooling while coping with your personal illness”?

The hardest thing during that time was that the curriculum we were in the middle of did not convert easily to long breaks.

How has coping with your personal illness prohibited you from homeschooling and how were you able to accommodate?

To compensate we did a more focused unit or subject study instead of doing several subjects per day. And to get in our hours we schooled year round instead of having the summer off like usual. We used online or video teaching for some of the new concepts introductions when I really didn’t have the strength to do myself at the point were our curriculum introduced it.

I supervised my children checking each other’s math homework and other textbook testing and quizzing. That reduced my load quite a bit and kept us up on grading and record keeping.

What would you like other homeschoolers who are dealing with the same struggles to know that might encourage them?

My encouragement to others facing a medical crisis is that it’s ok to adapt. There are many many resources these days for taking the load off of you. Really look at your curriculum. Be willing to invest in some outside resources. Create a plan to achieve the necessary goals for the year and take your breaks deliberately. The medical crisis will pass!

This is day 9 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series!. We are so glad you are here! 

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This article is about two moms who share their stories of homeschooling their children while they battled through their personal illness.

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