We are nearing the end of our sixth year of homeschooling! A few years ago I wrote about what we love about homeschooling. All of those things still hold true, but as we have experienced this cancer season of life, we’ve come to have a new appreciation for what we’re doing.
Is this lifestyle always easy? Absolutely not. But, we feel that whatever sacrifices we have to make to our wants in life are worth it to be able to to continue in this journey.
This season of life has been exceptionally eye opening and has had many pros and cons, especially when it comes to school and the emerging big kid personalities of our children.
Our eldest is now 11 and very self motivated. This means he needs a significantly smaller portion of direct teaching than the other two. He’s also less likely to be distracted, and is trustworthy to work on any independent work without me having to micromanage him. This guy is a voracious reader and has worked his way into (parent-approved) YA and above material. Because we have chosen to educate at home, he is able to spend a significant portion of his day immersed in historical fiction, fiction, classic literature, and supplemental school reading and is quickly becoming a talented writer. Jacob is quick to complete a task with a good attitude and has even taken over some of my own jobs – his favorite is making our weekly homemade breakfast granola!
Our middle guy is currently the epitome of a distracted child! He actually requires more redirecting than the youngest, but when truly motivated is a very diligent worker. He has different strengths and desperately needs more wiggle time than I’m sure he would get in a conventional school setting. Other than being physical, he is very drawn to music in many different forms. We have found that listening to music during school time improves his concentration and lessens his irritability, and he could easily spend hours each day at the piano. Eli has a compassionate old soul and is the first to offer help when someone is unwell. He has spent many hours over these last months checking on me and writing me heartfelt cards.
Our sweet girl has an equally different personality to the other two. She’s still at the age where she adores school work. She has a very sensitive heart and if there ever was a child created by God to have a ‘words of affirmation’ love language, it’s this girl. My ever burgeoning card and note stash is evidence of that. She has an artists heart and her free time is filled with drawing, coloring, doodling, and making things for others.
Homeschooling during cancer has been a bit of a challenge, but it has also been a huge blessing. I have been able to lesson plan a month at a time and usually find a few days at the end of the last lesson period that I’m feeling well enough to sort out lessons for the upcoming month. I try to get everything ready, including all pages I need to copy and supplemental library books procured, so the month will run fairly smoothly. We drop history and art as needed and simply work on them on days I feel well enough to spend the time doing those subjects.
Michael and I also recently discussed how much more difficult this season would have been if I had been faced with getting the kids up and ready for school (including breakfast, hair, lunches, etc.) each morning and then being available for them at the end of the school day. I realize plenty of people live their lives successfully that way – even during major life altering illness – but I think it would have been so much harder for me. For me, the logistics of cancer were actually made slightly easier by having my children home. There was always someone home to provide help or assistance in any way necessary. I was also able to give them bits and pieces of my attention during the day rather than having to focus all of my energy on meeting their needs first thing in the morning, and then again having a rush of energy, chattering, and needs to be met when school let out.
The most challenging thing we have faced in regards to this education lifestyle has been the ever present need for childcare. Something we would have needed far less of if the children had been at school each day. Thankfully, God has blessed us with some amazing local friends! On the days when Michael isn’t available (sometimes I take the kids to his office, other times he comes home) or wants to attend an appointment with me, we have friends who homeschool and welcome a few extra kids into their day, we have friends who have young children and are already at home with them and can take ours in, we have a high school friend who can come over right after school for late afternoon appointments, and we also have a recently retired from the military friend who is able to help out.
For less ‘personal’ things like lab draws or pharmacy visits, they just tag along with me as they always would. They’ve had a few “Are you out of school today?” questions, and I have been absolutely surprised at how well their answers have been received. Some of them have even spurred conversations with the adult who inquired!
While I stand by the fact that cancer is absolutely not a road I would have chosen to travel, we have been blessed the entire time.