Saturday, October 16, 2010

When the going gets tough, how do you keep school going?

I've missed the last couple of Blog Cruise topics.  Mostly because they didn't exactly pertain to me.  This week, maybe. 

The question:  How do you homeschool during illness, family stress or crisis?

This is tough to answer.  I think a lot depends on how old the kids are.  When stuff gets insanely crazy and you have fairly young kids (say, 3rd grade and younger), it really isn't a big deal to back off of formal schooling altogether.  Some things I did with my guys when adjusting to a new baby (and that last one was a doozy -- my c-section recovery was awful, I had PUPPP which did not go away after the delivery, I was suicidal... school was not exactly on my list.  Getting through the day without killing anyone -- literally -- was about the only thing on my list.  I'm pretty sure that getting everyone fed and dressed didn't even make the to do list for at least a couple weeks in there.  Good thing the oldest was big enough to take on that job himself.)
  • Video.  We got a lot of Magic School Bus, Reading Rainbow, Bill Nye, and Schlessinger videos out from the library.  Plus we (uhh, okay, THEY) watched Sonlight's Discover and Do videos.  If we had this part to do again now, I would add Mathtacular, Math Tutor DVD, Drive Thru History, and so on.
  • Online options.  We subscribed to Time 4 Learning for a couple of months.  The kids could do that without me.  That covered language arts topics, math, social studies and science. 
  • Audio Books.  We listened to a lot of great stuff.  And I could sleep on the couch, once the itching let me sleep anyway.  
  • Now there are lots more options for online school.  I'd find some of those choices for my current younger ones if I was in a crisis situation again.  
With older kids -- high school and middle school -- the typical advice doled out doesn't exactly work.  Sometimes, yes, you can just back off and not worry about it.  But if you have students planning for the PSAT, or AP tests, or just working towards completing things for a solid college-prep transcript... well, taking off a chunk of time may not really be a viable option.  At least not when they aren't the one who is sick or in crisis.

But they are also capable of doing a lot more stuff independently.  I think if I were facing some sort of long-term stress (more than a couple weeks) with my older guys, I would try to find them some mentors.  Some things are easy -- Connor is taking Latin and science online.  Math I know he can handle independently.  I'd talk with some of the moms/dads from Boy Scouts and see if they might check in with him periodically, just to be sure he's on track.  Or I'd recruit a friend or two online who would be willing to have him email his writing assignments -- not necessarily to be graded, but at least so he'd have someone holding him accountable.

Some programs/ideas for older kids that I think would be great in a longer-term crisis:
  • ALEKS, Mathtacular,, TabletMath, etc.  There are a bazillion online math programs.  Find one that appeals to you.
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive DVDs.  Expensive, but with a bit of hand-holding from an online friend (if I'm really out of commission), this could be almost self-taught.
  • Apologia can be pretty much self-taught, I think, but there are also online options like Supercharged Science that I would investigate to get through a crisis.
  • There are a lot of online course options.  I don't know which can be started at any point and which have fixed schedules, but maybe a person could focus on areas like science while waiting for the next start date for an online World History course.

I think it is those in-between years that would be most difficult.  What do you do with the upper elementary kids in a crisis?  Hopefully, I could recruit some older brothers to assist them, and we could look at some online options for things like math.  We could still do video school for a lot of areas, just like I did with the younger ones.  Time4Leaning works in this age range and isn't terribly expensive.

Check out what some of my Crew Mates had to say by clicking the graphic above!


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Unknown said...

Thanks for the advice...I certainly hope to never have to use it!

Our Homeschool Reviews said...

Great post!

Deanna said...

We have been struggling with this issue this year since my oldest son has been dealing with a major health issue. It is a balance issue, but also it is such an amazing blessing to have the ability to schedule for him in ways that the public school wouldn't have allowed.

Vickie said...

Great post and great advice!