To End the School Year or Not

When Your Child’s Illness has Caused More Sick Days than School Days

If your child has a serious or chronic illness (like congenital heart defects, leukemia, or severe asthma), when or if you should end the school year can be a major dilemma.  Maybe you’re looking back over your year and remembering all of the sick days that interfered with school.  Or maybe you are panicking because you realize you’re only on week 16 of your 36 week curriculum.  Whatever the cause, you are now wrestling with the idea of continuing school throughout the summer.

Before we talk about how to make the best decision for your family, there are some things I think God wants you to know:

You are the perfect Mom for your child

He knew that you were the right one to mother His precious child.  He knew you would love, teach, nurture, and advocate for this little one.

Don’t under estimate the incredible life and academic lessons your child is learning through his or her illness

My son, Seth, had his second open heart surgery at the age of 11.  It was a difficult, but it was also full of many beautiful life lessons.  (Lessons we’ve looked back on as we talk about a variety of events in Seth’s life.)  As part of his recovery, he had to walk the hospital halls.  Hunched over from pain and the desire to protect his chest, he still managed to encourage new parents whose babies were also recovering from open heart.  He gave them hope in a way, frankly, I couldn’t understand.  You may not even be aware of how your child has touched others.  Take the time to think about the impact your child has in their world.  These children tend to bless people with compassion and hope – precious gifts that our world desperately needs.

Because of his heart defects, my son has been able to see some amazing technology.  I’m actually carrying pictures of his heart from the latest echo-cardiogram (much like an ultrasound) in my purse right now.  It’s amazing to be able to see what his heart looks like and compare it to what a “normal” heart looks.  Real life science!  What technology has your child been able to see in action?  What parts of the human body are they becoming experts in understanding?  It’s also been my experience that as soon as we mention homeschooling, nurses and doctors instantly become teachers.  They love sharing their knowledge!

You’re not doing this alone

He wants you to yoke yourself to Him and let Him do the heavy work (referring to Matthew 11:29-30).

Why do I think He wants you to know those things – or be reminded of them?  It’s very simple.  He loves you and wants to carry your burden so that you can homeschool with joy and peace – not fear.  Fear is not His thing.  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10, New King James Version).

The next step in the decision making process is to pray – yoke yourself to Him.  I encourage you to pray about your worries and concerns.  I also encourage you to pray about your homeschool goals.  What are God’s goals for your child?  Do your goals match up with His?  Consider the gifts He has given them, along with their weakness.  Let Him lead you in making appropriate goals just right for your child given their special unique needs.

If you are married, this is a great time to discuss goals with your spouse.  My husband has surprised me with a higher concern for our son’s character than academics.  I was surprised because I can so easily get caught up in academic progress, especially how Seth might compare to peers.  My husband’s perspective relieved a lot of the stress I had been putting on our son and myself.

Now, for some nitty-gritty soul searching.  Spend time thinking and praying about why you want to extend your school year.  Get to the root of your “why”.  If you find that your reason, and the idea, of an extended year gives you peace, you know that it’s a good idea straight from God.  If, however, you find fear and panic at the root of your reasoning, you know that you’ve discovered an issue that needs God’s help – not more school.  Fear comes from the thief and should never be our driving force behind how and why we homeschool.

I hope that if you do find fear or panic in your desire to extend your homeschool’s year, that you will do the very opposite.  Pull back from school.  Spend more time with God.  Enjoy your child.  Even the *perfect* mom for this enormous, God-given job needs to renew her spirits every once in a while.

Kimberly has been happily married to her best friend, Randy, for over 15 years.  Together, they homeschool their 12 year old son, Seth.   She received her bachelor’s degree in Mental Disabilities: Moderate, Severe and Profound from the University of Northern Iowa, and taught Special Education for 4 years before becoming a stay at home Mommy – her absolute favorite “job” ever!  Kimberly is also a Christian writer and speaker whose heart is to encourage Mom’s, like her, with children who have serious illnesses.  You can find her at www.kimberlyehlers.com.

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