Teaching with a Chronic Illness

Teaching homeschool is a hefty task no matter what your circumstances are.  Researching, planning, organizing, teaching, troubleshooting, and so many other tasks require a lot of time and effort.  Doing all this on top of a chronic illness is even more challenging.

When I first became ill, I seriously thought my days of homeschooling were over.  I was resigned to send the kids off to public school.  Luckily, I had the support of my family to encourage me and help build me back up.  While I can’t say everything is back to normal, we have continued to homeschool.  It’s not been easy, but here are a few tips I’ve found that have helped me homeschool with a chronic illness.

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Make it portable
I purchased a library cart and filled it with all of the frequently needed homeschool items.  Teacher’s manuals, binders, workbooks, and flashcards fill the cart, as do lap desks, and a caddy full of basic school supplies.  When getting out of bed is a stretch, I just have my students wheel the cart in to my room and we are set to go.

Stay organized
Homeschool parents are already good at staying organized.  But nothing is more frustrating than hunting down that one thing I need when I’m not feeling up to it.  Keeping everything exactly where it belongs saves me or the person I’ve asked to get that one thing a lot of hassle.

Get a teacher’s assistant
My kids love playing teacher’s assistant.  They can help me prepare materials, file papers, and clean up the classroom area.  This saves me a lot of up and down, teaches them organizational skills, and builds some ownership in their education.  But really, teacher’s assistants are great for healthy parents too.

Stay flexible
The pressure of keeping to a dated schedule can only make me feel more overwhelmed when I’m having a rough week.  By building flex time into the schedule, it allows me to move things around when plans inevitably go off the rails.  I schedule our school year by weeks, with catch-up breaks every now and then.  What days those weeks happen to fall on is negotiable.

Stay on top of curriculum
If I’m going to need a certain book one week, I need to know about it the week before.  If a lesson calls for going on a walk outside, I need to have Dad lined up for that lesson.  By staying on top of what I’ll be needing (both with supplies and lessons), I can make sure I’m never left scrambling.  Improvisation is definitely harder when you are dealing with an illness.  I try very hard not to get caught unprepared.

Ask for help
I would roll my eyes at my husband when he fumbled through a lesson.  I couldn’t understand why he didn’t know where the literature books were kept, or where graded papers went, so I never bothered asking him for help.  When I first fell ill, he really stepped up and took the lead.  Even now he helps handle some of the more physical stuff.  I don’t have to be super teacher/mom all the time.

While none of these tips make things just like they were before I got sick, they do help me do more as a teacher.  I can feel like I’m accomplishing something, and not letting my illness take something so important away from me.  I am so grateful to still have homeschool.  While my illness might not be the worst out there (far from it), I do hope what I’ve learned can help someone else out there.

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