In our family’s nearly 17 years of homeschooling, we’ve experienced our share of difficult times:
- when my husband was working two jobs to get through a financial crisis
- when I wasn’t physically capable of managing the home
- extended illness
- new babies
- caring for aging parents
At the moment, we’ve just come through another time of caring for an elderly family member during hospitalization and death. While we hosted family and planned a funeral, our homeschool was pushed to the side. We tried to keep the kids going, but my attention was split between helping my husband, grieving with him, and trying to keep our home company-ready. There wasn’t much of me available for school time, and the kids didn’t do very well on auto-pilot.
I know how discouraging it is when your homeschool plans fall by the wayside and the routine is disrupted through no fault of your own. It can be very challenging to get everything flowing smoothly again, and it feels like you’re failing.
A little perspective goes a long way. There are three things I’ve found to be helpful in realigning my own thoughts.
The Family is the Lesson
You may have heard the phrase, “The baby is the lesson.” I love the idea that our children learn life lessons from the interruptions a new baby brings. The reality is that they also learn life lessons from the difficult times that disrupt our homeschool lessons. In times of grieving, they learn to serve others, to grieve in a healthy way, and to honor family relationships.
We are a Family Not a School
Once upon a time, I suggested to my husband a very structured approach for our family routine. I compared our family to a business. My husband responded, “We’re a family, not a business.”
I have to remind myself of this frequently. When I’m frustrated that life is interrupting my homeschool plans, I have to remember, “We’re a family not a school.” Math and science are very important, but so are the lessons our family learns when we pull together to get through difficult times.
Flexibility is a Gift and a Skill
Homeschooling provides flexibility in our children’s education:
- We can slow down when we need to.
- We can take a break if we have to.
- We can catch up in the summer.
Although flexibility is a gift that comes with homeschooling, it’s also a skill we have to practice. For some of us, it’s harder to embrace flexibility and change. But after 17 years of homeschooling, I can promise you this — it will be okay.
Maybe you won’t finish your spelling lessons or that research project this year, but it will be okay. Your children will learn the basics they need in their education if you just keep plugging away. Do what you can, when you can. Keep them reading. Find educational games and movies to occupy their minds when you can’t sit down and teach an actual lesson. Remember, they’re watching you, and they’re learning more from how you handle these hardships than from their textbooks.
They’re learning lessons that will carry them through their own trials in the future. They’re learning where to find strength, how to handle disappointments, and how to communicate. So put the schedule aside, relax, pray, have those difficult discussions, and work together as a family. It will be okay.