* This is part one of a three part series on homeschooling through crisis. Please keep an eye out for part two: Emergency Relocation and Your Homeschool, as well as part three: Looking to the Future. *
Living is a messy business and even those who seem to have it all together can loose everything they have worked hard for, in an instant. I recently found myself and my family in such a life altering situation. Due to reasons beyond my control I had to pack up myself and my children, and on only a few days notice move half way across the country to stay with my mother-in-law. During this time I have been without computer nor internet. In fact this post was originally written using paper and pencil nearly two weeks after our move, I have only just now been able to take my original writing and type it up.
The very definition of a crisis means that no family could escape the panic that comes from watching your world crumble to the ground around you. If your child attends a brick and mortar school, whether it be public or private or charter, then you can likely discuss a plan of action with their teachers and/or school counselors to ensure their emotional as well as academic needs are met. If your family leads the homeschool lifestyle then you have other complicating factors to deal with in the event of a crisis, mainly to continue homeschooling or to take a break.
This is a deeply personal decision that no one can make for you. Factors to be considered are innumerable.
Has your child witnessed a traumatic event?
Are they showing signs of emotional distress or confusion at all the changes taking place around them?
Are they severely behind in school?
Is it likely that they could easily catch up if they were to fall behind?
Do they enjoy lessons or is school a source of stress for them?
I chose to take a one-week break and then to continue on with a lighter work-load for my kindergartner. I strongly considered taking a few months off but in the end decided that LittleMan would benefit from the stability that comes from following his usual routine, lessons included.
Other families might decide that another route is more appropriate for them, and that is ok. Every family’s needs are different so every homeschool should run differently, in whatever way best fits the needs of that individual family. And the best person to decide what fits your family’s needs is you.
Speaking of you, up until now I’ve been focused on talking about assessing the child’s situation and their needs. Your needs matter too!
So take a step back and give yourself an honest assessment:
Have you witnessed a traumatic event?
Are you experiencing signs of depression or severe anxiety?
Are you easily overwhelmed thinking about all your family has been through and now faces?
Would leading lessons give you a sense of normalcy to cling to or would it add to your stress levels?
Personally, while homeschooling has been especially difficult for me in recent days, I find that it gives me something to focus on besides my own misery and confusion. Through homeschooling I also feel a deeper connection to my children, a connection that is essential in helping us all recover from what we have been through.
Each morning I wake up and I struggle to pull out our materials and start our lessons. I debate my choice to homeschool through it rather than take a break. I tell myself that it is pointless, useless even.
Then we actually start our lessons.
Then it comes easily.
The world fades away, everything we’ve been through almost leaves my thoughts entirely. For that short time that I read aloud from a book or discuss an animal’s diet or double check math work- everything is ok.
The world makes sense.
The smile across LittleMan’s face when he correctly sounds-out a word becomes the moment worth having gotten out of bed for.
Picking yourself up after a crisis is hard. If homeschooling gives you a purpose and a hope while you figure things out, then use it to your advantage.
However if you find yourself feeling worse during a lesson, or just too overwhelmed to even get started, then don’t do it.
Be gentle to yourself.
Be kind to you, acknowledge that you are going through something impossibly difficult and give yourself a safe heaven in which you can heal.