Homeschooling When Mom is Sick

Sick woman in bed

Like our friend in the photo, I spent the better part of last week flat on my back on the couch.  (Unlike her, however, my appearance would have scared off… well, anyone but my very loyal husband!)  Bronchial problems, sinus pain, aches, dizziness… I was a wreck.  To top it off, I had just started feeling better when a three-day migraine descended.  Amidst self-pity and sniffles, I realized that I still needed to make sure the kids were getting some schoolwork done.

As many of you already know, when we moved last fall, we got very behind in our schoolwork.  Not just a little behind, but weeks and weeks of missing checkmarks in my homeschool planner :-(   I spent the dreary months of winter working hard to catch us up, so when I felt the viral beasties coming on, I decided that there was NO WAY I was going to let some little (ok, maybe not-so-little) germs negate all of our hard work.

As medicine-head descended, however, this was easier said than done.  I ended up having to triage.  By separating the boys work into "easy to catch up with" and "nightmare to catch up with" piles, I got some focus.  The "easy" pile included things like art lessons, read-alouds, science and memory work.  These are subjects/tasks that I can bunch up and get through many in one session if I need to. 

Math, Writing with Ease, and Grammar topped the "nightmare" pile.  I can't just hand the kiddos 10 backlogged math worksheets and expect them to do them in an hour or two.  (Frankly, I wouldn't want to to 10 math worksheets in one sitting:-)  I also have not yet taught the boys how to take dictation in fast-forward mode.

In my few moments of clarity, I glanced through their math to see whether I needed to teach any new skills.  I happened to get lucky because last week focused primarily on review.  So, I let them hit the school room while I collapsed on the couch for 30 minutes of recovery.

Possible snafu with this plan:  When I am in the school room with the kids, they stay on task and get the job done.  When I am otherwise engaged (i.e., hacking my lungs out on the couch), they are more easily distracted.  Solution: Put one at the school room table and one at the dining room table.  This avoids the whole, "Mooom, he's looking at me… whistling at me… breathing on me…!" scenario.

Throughout the day, I would alternate something out of the "nightmare" pile with something the kids could do on their own.  This way, the kids' brains did not turn to mush, and I didn't have to face down a huge backlog when I came out of germie-land. 

Triaging homeschool work when you are sick isn't a guaranteed way to eliminate sick-day backlog, but it will set you up for better things when you start to feel stonger again.  It also gives your kids some purposeful activity while you are down for the day.

Do you have a great tip on homeschooling when mom is sick?  Drop it in a comment!




  1. July 22, 2011

    I have my back up file! Everyday, I build a list of creative activities to keep in reserve for rewards or for days when I have to balance teaching with a million other jobs. They are just little ideas that demonstrate our lesson plans for the week – when I fell sick during my last pregnancy, I was able to continue with lessons on good days while double-timing ideas into my book – then on bad days, the boys spent the day building historical forts and researching far away countries and then writing plays and stories set there – it was a tough time for me, but the boys thought it was my best work ever!


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