How To Homeschool Through Hard Things Like Cancer
I’m reposting this because you’re going through a hard time, and need this message! If you’re reading this at a later date, this was published during the pandemic of Coronavirus, and schools were closed across the nation, moms were thrown into Homeschooling, and quarantine and social distancing became words in our vocabulary. This message is very applicable! Whatever hard thing you’re going through, the only way you really get through it is with Jesus (God, the Holy Spirit)! Hard times are inevitable, but Jesus knows what you’re going through, Friend. Here, to start, are 5 Tips to Help You in a Hard Time:
5 Tips To Help You In A Hard Time
- Step back and look at the big picture
- Expect Less of yourself and others (give grace)
- Allow the other members of the Body to pick up the slack
- Remember that (in regards to Homeschooling) Learning comes in many different forms
There is no doubt, hearing you have cancer is a tumultuous and fearful experience. The short story is, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A football-sized tumor was removed and I am alive 17 years later, praise the Lord! Read my cancer testimony for how God worked.
Academics Is Only Part Of Homeschooling
When you go through a hard time, it’s easy to forget that your children are going through one, too, and it is part of their story, as well. We Homeschooled our two children–aged 16 and 12 (almost 13), when I was diagnosed–from beginning to end. Academics is only one part of Homeschooling and it is not even first on the list, I’ve always asserted.
“Spiritual growth and character development are much, much more important.”Wendy Gunn
I’ve often expounded. Academics comes second and way down the list after what is first.
Proving Our Beliefs Through Testing
Faith in God is our family’s foundation. Professing Christians, we possess salvation, each one, through faith in God, through faith and trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ in payment for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead 3 days later. Now we would see that that foundation was solid. Our Faithful God was our strength and joy in the midst of trial. Homeschooling through cancer allowed me to test out my beliefs about Homeschooling and Jesus and see that what I believed was actually true.
All the ways God works in our family, through the good and bad, are part of our children’s education! Seeing God so visibly at work through this hard time, strengthened our children’s faith, increased their knowledge of Jesus Christ, and were way more important than any book learning that they missed.
Thankfully, when I was diagnosed with cancer, it was the beginning of summer. It was a huge blessing that during my main chemo treatments, it was summertime, when we didn’t Homeschool. To say I was concerned about our upcoming school year would be a gross understatement. I prayed. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. Homeschooling was not just where our children were schooled, in my mind. It was our life. It was not even a consideration to quit.
But, how was I going to plan, much less teach, with no energy, whatsoever, and being so sick?
How We Lived Out The 5 Tips Above
- Well, first, we had to step back and see the big picture. This is just one year of their overall schooling. They’re doing way more in Homeschool than they would in public school, in the first place, so it will be ok.
- Second, expect way less during this temporary hard time. Even if they just read books all year, they’d be learning much.
- Simplify. What extra activities can we do without. Temporarily, at least. We didn’t sign up for any activities.
- The Body of Christ helped. Other Homeschool families included our children at times in activities, and learning opportunities. When one part of the body is injured or sick, the other parts of the body compensate and do more. It’s the same with the Spiritual Body. You have to be willing to let others help you.
- And, fifth, learning of a different and much deeper sort happened that year. Character growth. Deep and lasting education of the spirit and soul. Most of all, God helped us. Day by day.
Bonding As A Family During Hard Times
In our family, we were used to doing everything together. We’re very close. Though they were old enough to stay home alone, I don’t think it ever occurred to us to leave our kids home during chemo treatments. Also, my husband thought, they could help me, in case I needed anything.
We were going through this hard time together.
Our children went with me to each and every appointment, all summer and through the voluntary study I participated in, of 24 weekly lower dose treatments, which lasted from September until January. They took their schoolwork along and did it in the van, the waiting room, and then in my treatment room with me.
We were using a literature-based curriculum, history at the center, which I’d designed. Our children, though 3 years and 8 months apart, did much of the same study, except for Math. And some Science.
How We Homeschooled
- Reading biographies of people living within the century we were studying (and the geographical area they lived in) and other library books with information about important events & scientific advances during that time period
- Writing reports
- Math assignments from a textbook
- Practicing piano
- Exercise (outside, weather permitting)
- I don’t remember what the Science subject that year was, but we probably did it with a textbook, and the accompanying tests. We read about scientific achievements during the time period studied, as well, and read biographies of the scientists.
Keep It Simple
We belonged to Teach Institute, an accreditation association, with a consultant who helped us determine what High School credits our son needed. She guided us and reminded us how much of life learning can be recorded as school, especially if you write a report on it!
Routines Are Important and Helpful
Of course, they weren’t able to do their schoolwork normally at times. Naturally, they were distracted on chemo days. By necessity, our methods changed. Flexibility is one of the beautiful benefits of Homeschooling! It’s perfectly acceptable to lower your expectations at this time. But, with the help of Christian friends in our church and Homeschooling circle, our home, life and Homeschool kept running. Meals were provided to us until I was able to cook, house-cleaning got done, groceries were bought.
My husband, whose gift is serving, did the laundry, with the kids’ help. Not as well as I would have done it, but who cares! We tried to keep normal routines. Especially spiritual. Daily, if possible, we met together for family devotions and on Sundays, we went to church. Piano lessons continued, thanks to volunteer drivers. School happened. It was a comfort for our kids! Everyone needs routine in life–to have something to do and keep going for. They practiced piano, and did their chores. We needed their help! And, it always feels good to be needed. Maturity, self-discipline and self-directed study habits are valuable traits and skills for any young person to have, and these are areas they grew in. Homeschooling helped us through this hard time.
It gave us structure, and bonded us together even more.
Friends included our kids in fun things their families were doing, occasionally. God blessed through the provision of meals and help from so many friends. It made it easier for our kids, not having to take over all my duties. Only a few years later, our daughter had the skills to do all the cooking and together our kids could have cleaned the house themselves. But, at the ages they were at when I had cancer, 13 and 16, they weren’t able to do it. Also, it’s important to remember the emotional trauma this was to all the family. We did not know at the time if I would live or die.
God Is Faithful and Will Get You Through
Saying what WE did really isn’t the answer to How To Homeschool through Cancer or any hard thing, or how we got through it. Anyone who has gone through a difficult time knows, that, but for the grace of God, we would have sunk! God’s grace and strength got us through. God helped our kids to not fall terribly behind academically. God provided friends, healing, help. God comforted, strengthened family bonds, and gave us a strong testimony of His miraculous power and love!
“He gets all the glory!”
The kids were a huge support to me, especially accompanying me to treatments! I’m so very grateful for their willingness to go, though I don’t remember that we gave them a choice. Being polite, being there, interacting with one another, with love, they impacted many people for Christ. It is unusual (in the world’s eyes) to see teenagers acting respectfully, dressing appropriately, and showing respect and honor to their parents and other adults. They were a powerful testimony to all the medical staff and other patients that we saw each week.
Thank God In All Things
God used this experience to form their personalities, and direct their ministry as adults. Because of her degree of comfort being in hospitals and medical situations, our daughter went on in high school and young-adulthood to minister in nursing homes and hospitals through music, and is presently training her dog to be able to go into nursing homes and hospitals as a therapy dog. Our grown children are much more compassionate, and also more comfortable in those settings than others are normally. It has been GOOD for them to go through this! It may seem strange for me to say, but, I thank God for cancer. It changed us all for the better.
You Can’t Learn That From A Book
School isn’t only about academics. Our children matured and grew in character, discipline and skills. It certainly wasn’t something I would have chosen, but I know that God chose it for us (He is Sovereign means He is in control of everything) and has used it in all of our lives. Our children are more empathetic. They know what it’s like to suffer a severe trial, to live selflessly in a family, to care for others and not think about themselves. They know how the Body of Christ is needed and appreciated when they step forward to meet the needs of another member of the Body. They know what it means to really pray and to trust God. You cannot learn that from a book.
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