“But you’re gone all day. How do you homeschool?” While these questions have a detailed, specific answer, the truth is, I don’t do this on my own. My daughter has the blessing of two living parents, committed to the Lord, each other, and to her. That being said, homeschooling with a chronically ill spouse does have its unique challenges. Or better put, the ordinary challenges of time-management, priorities, and focus can become magnified when the delicate balance of home life and work has added stress points. I’m in the early years of homeschooling, and cannot pretend to have everything right. I ask for help and advice from other homeschooling moms on a regular basis. Some of their tips have been life-savers for me. Other ideas have just not worked for my family. No one I know personally is in my shoes: bread-winner & homeschooling mom. Maybe you can glean even just one helpful crumb to encourage you on your journey from this post.
1.) Read James 1 and ASK for wisdom from above. Read Proverbs and remember what wisdom looks like. Parenting on any given day is a challenge that needs to be faced on our knees. Homeschooling is an extension of committed parenting.
2.) Talk to your spouse about the schooling goals. I’m the nitty-gritty details person in the house, but the goals need to be set in unity. Basically we have a “divide and conquer” approach with our active, hands-on, creative little Tigger of a daughter. Spreading out our schooling sessions into little chunks throughout the day has actually worked to her advantage and her learning style. It also works well for my husband who needs a nap nearly every afternoon to cope with life and pain levels.
3.) Allow yourself flexible goals! While I lay out an overview for the week, I write down what is actually accomplished AFTER the fact. We often have to tweak our plans. I may end up doing two math lessons on Saturday, and my daughter may have watched an educational DVD series in place of Math during the regularly scheduled math time for few days that week. My husband had a bad migraine that lasted 2 days. Math at night after Mom is finished giving piano lessons just doesn’t work as well. So, we regularly visit the library every Friday so that we have an abundance of resources to choose from!
4.) Prioritize what is most important first! Bible, reading, writing, and math are our top goals to finish each day. Science and history so naturally get fit in as we take educational trips to the Aboretum, the historical sites in travels along the way, reading historical fiction, and our mini-co-op group.
5.) If at all possible, join a homeschool co-op or group. Especially in an only child situation, this pooling of resources has been a shot in the arm for my family. Maybe you can even meet one evening a month to work on a sewing class, or science project together.
6.) Record progress and give thanks for it! I taught kindergarten and worked with littles enough to realize my daughter was struggling way beyond normal with her reading. I was sorely tempted to throw in the homeschooling towel, and find a way to send her somehow, on one income, to private school (laughably beyond our means). Lots of advice, prayer, and research went into this struggle. Now she is reading at her early third grade level. I am grateful beyond words for this victory. Without the help of my husband, family, and friends, we could not have been this successful thus far.