I’m 32 and have had multiple sclerosis for 3 years. My son is 9 and has ADHD and is really struggling in school. I’ve been considering homeschooling him and I think I could do it, but all of my friends and family I’ve mentioned it to have said I am crazy. I have a lot of concerns –I’m worried about my energy in the future.
I really catch up physically on the hours he is at school now, so something would have to give. And how it will affect him to not have so many friends? The last thing either he or I need is more hours at home alone without an activity. I have this summer to decide. -Jenny
It sounds like from your email you feel as though you are being called in this direction. Most moms–myself included–may never even dream of homeschooling our kids because either we know it would not be a good fit for him or her–and us–or we just can’t fathom it. If you are considering it then you have already helped me understand that it may be more than just an passing interest to you, but rather something God may be communicating with you.
First, pray about it and keep praying.
I never planned to homeschool my son, but this Spring, situations arose and God placed us in the position to homeschool–despite my resistance. You know how some people pray God won’t call them to Africa? Well, I always told God I would do anything for Him–except homeschool. So. . . yes, you guessed it! Switching schools, admission availability and other circumstances arose where I found myself homeschooling for a few months.
God likes to stretch us, doesn’t He?
Secondly, connect with other homeschooling moms who are ill.
There are actually many communities out there of women with chronic illness who are homeschooling and they can give realistic advice, as they will share the joys, but also the challenges. You can find our own group here at Rest Ministries in the Sunroom, our social network–Beyond Surviving Homeschooling. We also have a Pinterest Page of resources for Homeschooling Moms Who Are Ill.
It is possible. It can even be very successful! But remember that how you homeschool and how your child learns, may not look exactly like how others do it. That is the benefit of homeschooling–it can be flexible.
Thirdly, ask yourself what kind of learning style your child has.
What is his personality? For example, if he has a sanguine personality and wants to be around other children a lot, you may find yourself exhausted trying to school him at home, join a charter school, and then provide him with activities or sports to keep him with other children where he thrives. If you have a daughter who is more melancholy, the demands to provide an outlet for social skills to build may not be as intense, but you will also want to make sure she doesn’t become to isolated and that she still has friends to play with.
What is your personality? Are you a perfectionist who expects your child to learn in the same way you do? Just exactly how much patience do you really have? (And, do we ever really know?)
Are your child’s needs a good fit with what you can offer? You mentioned that your son has ADHD. If you are bedridden part of the time and will be teaching horizontally, that may not work out so well with a child with severe ADHD who wants to jump on the bed while you teach. Can he be calm enough that you can teach him something, even when you cannot be involved every second? (For example, many teachers recommend to homeschooling moms to let the child learn on an ipad, but the apps for learning never hold my son’s attention more than a few minutes.)
Examine your family’s individual needs. Every family is different. And that brings me to my last point. . .
Do you have a spouse who will support you?
Does he expect dinner on the table every. . . single. . . night? Will he complain about scrambled eggs for dinner now and then? When you are exhausted will he help out with bedtime routines, or tell you that if your child went to school you would have more energy to do the laundry and he wouldn’t have to be helping out at night? This decision should be a joint decision and if your spouse is resistant to the idea it is likely a matter of time before you feel defeated. The last thing your child needs is to feel like he is causing strife between mom and dad because he is learning at home.
Talk with your spouse realistically about what it could be like (and find some of those answers from the other moms in support groups.) Is he willing to help you prepare some meals for the freezer on the weekends? Will he take your child for bicycle rides on the weekends or do a science experiment or two to help with some of the homeschooling goals? What are his expectations about what your child will learn or if you are “coddling” too much? The more you can discuss in advance, the easier the transition will be.
Do you have a support network who will really be there?
Do you have extended family who will be able to support you–and not tell you that you took on too much so it’s your own fault? Who will help out when you have a bad flare for a few weeks? Who will watch your child when you need to have labs and tests done and your child cannot come? You wrote that you have mentioned the possibility of homeschooling to friends and family and they all have “said you were crazy.” Your choice needs to be independent of what others think. At the same time, if you choose to homeschool, chances are they won’t be in line to help you out. They could have the attitude of “she made this bed and now she has to lay in it.”
You will need to have some sort of support network of people who can help when times get tough and that can be hard to come by. If your friends and relatives don’t support your homeschooling, they likely won’t help for extended periods of time when you need them. And though the homeschooling community will support your decision to homeschool your son, they will likely have very full lives themselves and not able to do much to help you with logistics such as meals or childcare more than a day or two, if that. Something to consider.
From a mom who is there right now, we were able to find a charter school that has a wonderful philosophy about learning styles and children learning in many ways. It has truly been a miracle and my son and I are both hopeful he will be back int he 5-day program for the fall, but we still aren’t sure.
I don’t know where you live and what is available, but if you still aren’t sure about homeschooling, consider if there are other possibilities between full-time public school and homeschooling, including charter schools who have 2- or 3-day programs for kids who are homeschooled.
I wish you the best of future and let us know how it has all turned out.