This week, we four moms of many are talking about how to homeschool through chronic illness or pregnancy. If your morning sickness is bad enough, the two may sound and feel like the same thing.
If we’re talking about things that bring daily school to a screeching halt, we could also add interstate moves to the list. We had a beautiful daily schedule when we lived in Ohio, and I had 6 children under 10 at the time, expecting #7. Once we moved, things were never the same again.
I expected our move to change things, but I did not expect the change to be permanent. For this reason, I spent several months waiting for our lives to fall back into order naturally. It didn’t help that I was in the midst of my worst pregnancy ever, with non-stop vomiting, suspected gestational diabetes, little or no control over my diet (we were not living in our own home at the time), and several other major and inescapable sources of stress around us.
When our lives didn’t quickly and naturally slip back into something resembling the old order, I spent several months sinking into a slow motion panic, afraid that the brains of our children were turning to mush while I watched helplessly from my miserable place on the sofa.
See? Pregnancy isn’t always a breeze for moms of many.
But I learned something along the way. I learned that not all education happens at the table with a pencil and a textbook.
It doesn’t even always involve a book, though it almost pains me to say so.
As long as children are not spending their days plastered to the television, immersing themselves in video games, or otherwise indulging in wanton purposeful brain damage, they are probably learning new things.
That’s not to say that you should let them quit school and do what they want for the rest of their days. Just don’t panic if school isn’t happening the way you envision it while you are sick.
Here are some ways to keep educating your children even when you can hardly crawl out of bed:
- Read to your children, and encourage them to read. Read together in your bed, if that’s where you spend most of your time. That is where reading lessons happen in my house even when I’m well.
- Make sure you provide plenty of good literature and nonfiction, and not too much “brain candy.” Children who read twaddle will quickly come to crave it just like the child who has been raised on breakfast pastries will crave that morning dose of sugar. It sometimes takes self control and extra effort to develop a taste for what is best for us.
- Have your children narrate back to you when you read aloud to them. Encourage them to tell the story in their own words. Very little ones often show a desire to do this naturally, like when your toddler wants to “read” you her favorite book. I have also let the young ones narrate to each other to help “catch up” when one misses a chapter of a book we’re reading together.
- Encourage the independent pursuit of hobbies and interests. Urge your children to dig deeper into what interests them, and to learn fun or interesting new skills.
- Talk to your children, and with your children. This is huge! Explain difficult concepts, even if you think they’re too young to completely grasp what you are talking about. You are planting seeds and concepts. Answer questions. Ask questions. Include them in discussions, even if they’re too young to really participate. Engage. Don’t sell your children short: everything is fair game at every age.
- Use videos judiciously. Work hard not to create an atmosphere where videos are the default method of entertaining children or killing time. Non-fiction and educational videos abound. Use them as a basis for discussions rather than just time-fillers. Let the kids watch a familiar/favorite video but require them to use the foreign language track rather than English. My kids groan, but never decline.
So much learning can be self directed and self motivated, but often our children miss out on that aspect when we are strong and healthy enough to hover over them and manage all aspects of their day. It’s not good to leave a child to himself (Proverbs 29:15), but I do think that we are sometimes inclined to manage their days a little too closely. The inability to do so can sometimes provide new opportunities for growth and learning that our children might have missed otherwise.
Here’s what the other 3 moms say:
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:
- May 3 – Cooking with leftovers
- May 10 – Favorite frugal tips
- May 17 – Q&A
- May 24 – Homeschooling when in a rotten temper
- April 26 – 4 Moms Q&A: courtship, dental bills, and 40,000 diapers
- April 19 – 4 Moms: Tithing and saving on one income
- April 12 – 4 Moms: Tithing and saving on one income
- April 5 – 4 Moms: finding time/ideas for blogging