Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homeschooling Through a Crisis

It seems like we have spent much of our time homeschooling in one form of crisis or another. Perhaps, everyone experiences a crisis or two each year. In the past 16 years of homeschooling we have faced the challenge of moving twice, being foster parents to special needs kids, unemployment, months of renovations, one child having several pacemaker surgeries, dealing with hundreds of doctor/therapy appointments and several job/schedule changes for my husband. In addition, raising a brood of special needs kids has required an intense form of parenting all of these years. To say that I really don't know what normal is anymore is an understatement. We are swimming through the latest crisis in our family. As many of you already know, our Goldilocks (13) ran away from home and was placed in emergency respite care when she was found. She has stated repeatedly in respite care that she is afraid to come home because she thinks she might hurt one of her family members. Her therapist and case worker became so concerned yesterday about her emotional stability that they had us admit her into our local psychiatric hospital. She will probably be there for a week or more and then move to a residential facility for a few months. We would appreciate all of your prayers.

The point of this post is to share what has helped us homeschool through a crisis. I hope our experience will help others.
  • Audio Books ~ Audio books help our family so much. They allow me to be on the phone or driving while the kids are still getting wonderful literature, history, and an increased vocabulary.
  • Workbooks ~ I am not a big fan of workbooks. However, they are a wonderful resource for a busy mom to fall back on when life is in the way of more exciting schooling. Workbooks can reinforce language arts, math, logic and reading comprehension. There are some great workbooks out there. We love workbooks from Mindware, Flash Kids and Evan Moor.
  • Educational DVDs ~ There are so many wonderful movies and documentaries. We have enjoyed IMAX films, numerous literature-based movies, and PBS specials.
  • Board and Travel Games ~ I love games. They are fun, educational and help us connect with each other. When the outside world is caving in on us, a game can bring us together for a temporary distraction and a few giggles.
  • A Skeleton Plan ~ When I see that we are going to have a rough time for a while, I fall back on my skeleton plan. I throw out my plans and curriculum for the time being and return to the basics, using the above resources. For example, I don't worry that we are watching documentaries about topics such as the 1800s or biology when we are supposed to be studying World War II and Einstein. Those subjects will still be there when life calms down. But in the meantime, the kids are still learning.
Here are a few other things that I have found to help our family etch out time for "school" even when life is overwhelming. 
  • Routine ~ My morning routine helps us a great deal. I start all of the appliances first thing in the morning before too much craziness can happen (dishwasher, washing machine, dryer). This way, I know throughout the day that at least we have some clean dishes, a load of dry clothes and another load is in the washing machine. I also get dressed and the kids get dressed. We can react to the demands of the day faster if we are ready to leave the house or receive guests at a moment's notice.
  • Break the Day Up ~ I prefer to do all of our core lessons first thing in the morning. I like to have at least three hours of uninterrupted time. However, this is not possible in the midst of a crisis. So I look at the skeleton plan, my resources, and the known demands of the day. I then decide how we can get some school in and discuss the plan with the children at breakfast.
  • Ask for Help ~ Okay, I am not good at this one. But it does help. Accept the help that is offered you even if you are not sure it will make an impact. Often it will. If there is something that you know will help...ask. 
Now, I better get my morning routine taken care of and get dressed or we will be off to a bad start. That demanding phone will be ringing with nurses, therapists and doctors in no time!

Blessings, Dawn


  1. I have been a reader for a good little while and am so very sorry about what your family is going through. Prays for every need you may encounter.

  2. Sorry to hear about Goldilocks.I will pray that she will find healing! And that your family can remain peaceful in the storm.

  3. I will continue to pray for your family! I hope that she is able to move into the facility soon. Prayers for peace within your family.

  4. I am still praying for your family, but find it utterly amazing how you can function and carry on with the kids during such a stressful time. You have great plans for keeping school going. I pray that Goldilocks is able to heal and someday soon rejoin your family at home.

  5. Indeed, I too find it amazing how you can function, an no less productively, with everything you need to juggle and the stress you are under. I hope and pray Goldilocks gets the help and healing she needs - it has already been a blessing that she has you and your family to ensure she does.

  6. These are great tips that I wish you didn't have to fall back on. I can only imagine the terror you must have gone through not knowing where Goldilocks was. I'm so thankful she was found safe. I'll will be praying that Goldilocks get all the help and support she needs!

  7. It is very thoughtful of you to share these tips, as I imagine they would be useful to many situations when homeschooling. We pray for you and your family every time God brings you to our mind.