Homeschooling can be rough when mom isn’t feeling at her best. My family has been taking turns going through a nasty cold this week — I think I should probably take the advice of a friend and just have everyone share a straw at the first sign of illness so we can get it over all at once. This is coming on the heels of several months of horrendous morning sickness so, needless to say, we aren’t functioning at our best at the moment.
The nice thing about homeschooling vs. public school though, is it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’re sick, it isn’t a matter of calling it for the day and waiting until everyone feels better. You can take things at a slower pace and still learn quite a bit.
So how do you homeschool when mom is sick?
Watch Educational T.V. Together
I’m not usually a huge fan of T.V. but there are cases where it can be a great educational tool. On days when I’m really not feeling well, the T.V. is our go-to activity, but by using a bit of discretion in what we choose to watch, it can still help my kids learn the material we are working on as part of our regular homeschool curriculum. We’ve been learning about the solar system so we took our week of the never ending cold to watch several science shows about the solar system – about everything from aliens to what you’ll see on each planet. My kids loved it.We’ll often follow up our T.V. watching by drawing pictures of what we learned, writing journal entries, or writing fictional stories that incorporate the information we learned.
As an alternative to regular T.V., my kids love watching Brain Pop videos or searching for YouTube videos on some of their favorite subjects (although I’m always sure to supervise their time on YouTube).
Have Older Kids Teach Younger Siblings
One of the methods I’ve been taking advantage of lately is having my older son teach my younger kids. This is actually very productive for all of my kids because my oldest son gets some review on topics that he may not have thought about for a while and because my younger kids look up to their older brother so much, it’s like a game for them when he sits down to teach them. Learning how to be a good teacher is a great skill for kids to have too. I’ve watched my older son learn patience and improve his communication skills as he’s taught his younger siblings.
Have a Reading Day
There are few things more valuable to a child’s education than reading. Whether you are reading to your children, having them read silently, or having them read to you, they are bound to get something out of the experience. While dealing with morning sickness, my gag reflex was often set off by something as simple as talking so rather than reading to my younger children, I’d have my oldest son practice his oral reading by reading to his younger siblings. My kindergartener read stacks and stacks of Bob Books to me while my 4 year old had fun making up a story to go along with the pictures on each page of his favorite books.
To really amp up the fun, let your kids have a pajama day and make a fort that they can climb in and read in for the day. You’ll be surprised at how much they get out of the experience at the end of the day.
Work on Individual Projects
I’ve found that my kids are most interested in learning when I set them loose and give them the freedom to choose what they want to learn. We’ve taken to having Free Learning Friday’s since my energy level has been so low during this pregnancy. There are very few rules. I don’t allow T.V. or video games and my kids have to be actively involved in doing something. Other than that, it’s up to them.
I’ve been amazed at what my kids have come up with. Earlier this year my kids took apart an old camera and looked up the various parts that they found inside on the internet. My 6 year old created a bound book and has been working for weeks to write and illustrate a book about all the things he likes to do. My 8 year old taught himself Power Point and created a presentation about the things he’d been learning in our astronomy assignments. He’s also been teaching himself to cook, with a bit of supervision, and has worked up to a long list of breakfast and lunch items that he can make, which has been an amazing help during the month’s I’ve been too sick to even look at food, let alone cook it.
Adjust your Schedule
One of the real benefits of homeschooling is you don’t have to do things on someone else’s schedule. If you don’t feel well in the morning, start school a few hours later. If you get an extra burst of energy in the evening, take some time to work on a few school subjects with your kids. For temporary illnesses, like our annoying cold this week, you can always just take the day off if you need to and makeup your schoolwork over the weekend. We typically don’t take all the school vacations we are allowed to so we’re often ahead of where we need to be anyway, which allows for the unexpected and in the end results in missing fewer days of school than if my kids were in public school.
If you’re having a rough day, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. I’m always amazed at what I can get done in only 15-30 minute increments. Work when you can and take frequent breaks until you get feeling better.
Ask for Help
Friends and family members are often willing to help out when you are sick or dealing with a difficult pregnancy. If you have a family member who is great at math or art, ask if they’ll take over teaching those subjects to your children until you’re feeling better. I have difficult pregnancies and knowing that I would be at least partially out of commission for quite a while, we hired a mother’s helper to come in once a week and help with some of our schoolwork. School doesn’t have to happen during the day either. If Dad has a favorite subject have him take over that in the evenings when he’s home from work.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Just because you are sick and feeling housebound, doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of exploring. There are some great virtual field trips available for homeschoolers that can be a great way to spend the day when you aren’t feeling well. My kids love exploring the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park online, especially since we used to spend so much time there. You can find a great virtual field trip scavenger hunt activity for the San Diego Zoo here.
Virtual field trips are available on nearly any subject and most larger museums and destinations have some sort of virtual destination you can visit. A few that we want to check out are Alcatraz Island, Mount Vernon, Ellis Island, and The White House.
How do you homeschool when Mom is sick?