Homeschooling in a Health Crisis

homeschooling in a health crisis hospital hands on learning

Flexibility and an ability to adjust for the unique needs of each kid in our family have always been some of my favorite parts of homeschooling. But nothing prepares you for the level of flexibility required when your child receives a scary diagnosis requiring many months of intense treatments.

When our youngest son was diagnosed with Leukemia last fall, a few weeks into our 14th year of homeschooling(15th? 16th? Who else thinks it’s hard to know how to count your official years of homeschool…), it dramatically changed the course of the homeschool year for the entire family. 

But for Isaac in particular, months of difficult treatments and weeks of both planned and unexpected hospitalizations meant that our typical homeschool approach had to be altered. 

Would I be able to find a way to continue his education in the midst of these health challenges and hospitalizations? Could I continue to nourish a love of learning in a way almost completely devoid of traditional curriculum?

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool

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By God’s grace, Isaac has continued to grow and even flourish in his 3rd grade year. And other than making our way (slowly, but surely) through his Math With Confidence textbook, we’ve found unique ways to continue his education through hands-on history projects, audiobooks, gameschooling, and more.

If you or someone you know finds yourself facing a family crisis, especially one involving a sick child who requires many hospital stays, I hope the things I’ve learned this year encourage you that you can continue to homeschool in the midst of the hard.

In fact, I firmly believe that our homeschooling has enabled Isaac to continue to grow in a way that would be much more difficult in a more traditional school setting.

Figure out what really matters

First, double down on what really matters the most to your family. It was very important to me that we continued to read aloud together, memorize Scripture, sing, and just maintain some of the normalcy of our family routine.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool morning time memory work Bible

To that end, we tried to continue our daily Morning Time routine this year. Isaac and I even sometimes brought some of our memory work to the hospital to work on it while his sisters recited it at home. We can also all watch World Watch News whether at home or hospital.

When I thought about what to keep or throw out from my homeschool plans for the year, I made my goals achievable, simple, and realistic. It was very important to me that Isaac continue to plod his way through his math lessons and practice reading a little bit each day.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool math

I also wanted to make sure there were many opportunities to bring in sneaky, hands-on learning for the other subjects that we were no longer going to be studying in a more formal way. 

By deciding proactively what I was going to keep or discard from the homeschool plan, I felt more in charge of our homeschooling instead of feeling constantly behind.

Prioritize relationships

In the midst of a family crisis, relationships matter more than ever. Homeschooling is always about relationships more than curriculum, and nothing crystallizes this in your heart like a crisis situation.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool relationships and read alouds

It was super important to me that family relationships and emotional health were prioritized in the midst of Isaac’s hospitalizations and health crisis.

Sometimes this means we say “not right now” to a math lesson in lieu of cuddles or an audiobook.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool read aloud narnia

Sometimes this means taking time one-on-one with individual children to make sure they’re not feeling overlooked in the midst of family chaos…even if all the lessons haven’t been checked off for the day.

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Sometimes this looks like making sure your marriage stays healthy, even when it feels tempting to put it on the back burner for a while.

But however this looks in your family, I encourage you to prioritize the eternal souls in your home more than a to-do list.

Find creative ways to incorporate learning in the midst of hospitalizations

When a child is feeling too sick to do school in a traditional way, there are still many other ways to bring learning to the couch and even into the hospital room. Here are a few of the non-traditional ways we’ve continued homeschooling this year:

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool puzzles
Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool gameschooling
  • Guilt-Free Screentime (when Isaac hasn’t felt well enough to do much more than lie in bed and watch something, I’m glad there are shows like “Wild Kratts” that continue to teach him while he’s enjoying extra screentime.)
Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool stack the states
Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool sonlight hands on history

We had enjoyed a Hands-On History: World History II project kit from Sonlight in the past, and it was a great supplement to our homeschool history lessons.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool sonlight hands on history

But I seriously nearly cried earlier this year watching Isaac enjoying several of the Hands-on History: World Cultures projects this year both in our living room and during a lengthy hospitalization.

For my project-loving son it was just another way to keep his hands and mind occupied. But as a homeschool mom? I knew that he was also learning history along the way. 

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool sonlight hands on history

You may know that textbook-free history is a huge part of our family’s homeschool culture, but history is one of the subjects I decided needed to take a lower place in the priority list this year. It was a sad thing to say “not right now” to, but it was necessary.

Sonlight’s Hands-On History: World Cultures kit was a perfect way to include some gentle history learning in the midst of a difficult homeschool season.

Homeschooling in a Health Crisis hospital homeschool sonlight hands on history

(While the Hands-On History kits from Sonlight are designed to coordinate with their homeschool history curriculum, they really work for any family as a supplement to their homeschool history lessons. They’re perfect for kinesthetic learners or anyone who wants an open-and-go history arts and craft project. You can read about our prior experience using the World History II project kit in our homeschool here.)

Sonlight Hands on History Box World History 2 Project Kit

Remain flexible

Whether you’re dealing with a short term illness or a long-term change in your family, homeschooling in the midst of a crisis requires more flexibility than I thought possible.

I’ve learned to hold things with a very open hand, resting in the grace of God moment to moment rather than trying to make big, huge, long-term plans.

When we’re feeling more rested and well, we try to do more formal lessons. When a day is derailed with side effects or exhaustion, I’ve learned to let it go and trust God’s grace is sufficient in that as well.

If you’re reading this in the midst of your own family’s crisis, know I’m sending a big hug and high five your way. Rest in the character of the One who “cannot deny Himself.” 

And keep homeschooling, even if it looks a little (ok, a WHOLE LOT) different than you thought it would this year. Those “little drops of water, little grains of sand” are still adding up to something beautiful over time.

Homeschooling gives us the gift of time with our children when each moment of time feels more precious than ever.

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2 thoughts on “Homeschooling in a Health Crisis”

  1. I love this so much! This has been so encouraging to me in the midst of the medical issues and extended illnesses we’ve been dealing with in our family this year. What a blessing to have the gift of time together through homeschooling. I admire the way you’ve been so creative and flexible in this season!

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