10 Ways to Help a Sick Homeschooling Family

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One of the cons of homeschooling is that when there is sickness in the family, particularly long-term or chronic illness, it can be difficult to keep school on track for everyone else. Of course, there is much to be learned through such life experiences, but it can still be stressful knowing that academics are taking a back seat.

It’s nice when other homeschooling families can come alongside and help in practical ways. Try these ways to help a sick homeschooling family if you know of one who is experiencing sickness or a hospital stay.

10 Ways to Help a Sick Homeschooling Family

1. Take them a meal. When your kids are sick, getting a meal on the table can be even trickier than usual. When you’re sick, it probably means too much take-out. And, if you’re at the hospital with a sick child or spouse, it almost always means take-out or, even worse, cafeteria food. A home-cooked meal probably tops the list of deeply appreciated practical help ideas for a sick homeschooling family.

2. Help with carpooling. For a sick homeschool parent or one who is spending a lot of time at the hospital with a family member, getting everyone else where they need to be can be difficult, if not impossible. An offer to help chauffer kids around can be a lifesaver.

3. Help with school lessons. It can be much easier for one homeschooling family to fold in a few more kids than it can be for a non-homeschooling relative to try to help keep the daily homeschool schedule going. Even if the other family’s kids don’t use the same materials, a family accustomed to the daily routine of homeschooling may be better equipped to make the adjustments than anyone else. You could even give everyone a break from their regular schoolwork in favor of a fun unit study to get everyone involved.

4. Invite the kids on field trips and play dates. We once had some friends who needed to spend a great deal of time in the hospital with a sick child. We picked their other child up for a day at the local children’s museum. He had a blast and the mom was so thankful that he was able to get out and have some fun while she spent some one-on-one time with her sick child.

5. Help with childcare. Even if you can’t help with school or a fun outing, an offer to keep the kids while a sick homeschool parent rests, makes a hospital visit, or even runs some errands will be greatly appreciated.

10 Ways to Help a Sick Homeschooling Family

6. Rally your support group. Sometimes a group can rally together to do something that a single family couldn’t do. Enlist your homeschool group’s help to do meal rotations for a week or two, stock the freezer with meals, or purchase gas cards and gift cards to local restaurants to help during an illness.

7. Help with household chores. Okay, don’t do this if the family has the stomach flu or something equally horrible and contagious, but heading over to the sick family’s house to do a couple loads of laundry, run the vacuum cleaner, or wash some dishes may endear you to your homeschool friend forever.

8. Offer to run errands. Help a sick homeschooling family by returning their library books, picking up stamps, or running to the grocery store.

9. Paperwork. If your state requires filing paperwork for homeschooling, it can be very helpful to offer to do as much of that as you can for a homeschooling family who’s experiencing sickness.

10. Pack a bag. If your friend or her family member’s illness requires long days at the hospital or doctor’s office, pack a travel bag for her. Fill it with snack foods, magazines, pens or pencils, quarters for the vending machine, activity books (word searches, crosswords, or Sudoku), a grown-up coloring book (I love those things!), and some crayons or colored pencils.

Sometimes it’s the simplest gestures that have the biggest impact. If you have a homeschooling friend experiencing extended or chronic illness, try one of these ideas to relieve some stress and offer practical help.

Have you experienced extended illness or a hospital stay while homeschooling? What would you add to this list?

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

images courtesy of depositphotos

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. This is a GREAT list. My 15 month old son has a chronic medical condition and it has not been easy to keep homeschooling my 10 year old through the stress, hospitalizations, therapies, dr. appointments, etc. I have some amazing homeschool friends who have helped me in many of the ways you’ve described and I think it’s the only way I’ve been able to keep homeschooling. I wish I could think of something great to add to this list, but I think it’s pretty complete. If anyone reading knows a family in need of this type of help, please offer what you can – even if they don’t take you up on it (I didn’t always) they will remember that you offered and it will mean so much!

  2. What would you recommend for a teen homeschooled only child with an illness? I have great difficulty planning schedules for “school” because I never really know how much work I will be able to get out of him that day. Depending on his pain level, I may get a couple hours of his attention, a half hour, or none on any given day. I took him out of p.s. 2 months into ninth grade last year and he still has not completed what he needs to do for that grade! Help!

    1. In our family, what works is that I just give the kids their stuff and make them accountable for getting it done in a timely manner. I don’t care what time they do their math, as long as they get it done. We talk about what it will take to get their schoolwork done. Math should be one page per day, they should complete one chapter in their science text every two weeks, and so forth. It works pretty well to tell them my expectations and then let them make their own schedule.

      My daughter with JIA had a couple years when she sometimes couldn’t get her work done on days she felt especially crummy. I gave her freedom to take time off if needed, but the school year didn’t end until all the work was done. On good days, she was able to do extra to get caught back up.

      There’s a certain amount of teaching about priorities and responsibilities that has to place. How is time being spent? Students are responsible for completing their schoolwork. If they’re not doing it, then what are they doing? There were days that my daughter slept and read, and I was okay with that. I occasionally allowed educational movies (history usually). We also had some educational games. No TV, though, or other time-wasting entertainment.

      Another of my children is in the lengthy process of being diagnosed. He is on a sports team, and knows I won’t take him to practice if he hasn’t done his schoolwork — he’s motivated to get his work done 🙂 He’s rarely too sick to do his schoolwork, because he knows that if he’s too sick to take care of his responsibilities, then he’s too sick for extras like sports.

      Kids who’ve been in public school are accustomed to serving their time (180 days) and then getting to move on regardless on how well they learned the material. It’s possible that your son subconsciously thinks that he just has to make it through the year, rather than realizing that he has to make it through the curriculum.

      Good luck!

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