Homeschool, Interrupted

Homeschool interruptions and emergencies

You have visions of your homeschool; dreams of children joyfully learning and growing while you, in your impeccable June Cleaver outfit, 
watch them lovingly from
your spotless kitchen.

Dreams can motivate us, but they can also sabotage our ability to deal with reality.

So your homeschool is going OK, but then a minor incident happens; a plugged toilet, a flat tire, no ink in the printer, and suddenly you've spent the entire day reacting to one problem after another. You feel like nothing schoolworthy has been accomplished, and the kids haven't learned a thing. Or have they?

  • How many shades of magenta is mom's face capable of displaying?
  • How fast can a stainless steel pan travel across the kitchen?
  • How many words does mom know that aren't allowed on network television?

Oh yeah--the kids learned something all right; it just wasn't something you'd like them to write about in their next school journal entry.

How should you deal with homeschool interruptions? They are inevitable, so why not plan for the days when your homeschool train gets derailed?

Keep a sense of proportion and priority.

Circumstances, both pleasant and unpleasant, are an opportunity for your family work as a team. The older kids play with the younger ones while you make some phone calls. Everyone grabs a paper towel and helps clean up the mess. You get out the coloring pages you've kept handy and the kids occupy themselves so you can have a few moments of peace.

It's also time for everyone to learn patience and coping skills. As the parent, you should strive to model a calm, reasoned response to stressful or unexpected situations. And children need to understand that you were not put on this earth simply to attend to their every need and desire. Kids can learn to stay busy or at least out of trouble while you attend to a situation that requires your immediate, focused attention. 

There could come a day when someone in the family--or possibly everyone in the family--is sick for a few days. You'll empty the shelves at Walmart of Kleenex and Sudafed. You didn't know the human body could produce so much . . . stuff. Or there is a flash flood and your basement is now a swimming pool. You are calling every equipment rental company within 20 square miles looking for a pump. Or a beloved family pet dies, and you all can't stop crying. You just need a day to grieve.

In each situation, you can't stop thinking about how nothing is getting done. Dishes are piling up, the laundry has become a sentient life form, you need a backhoe to clear a path down the hall. And what's worse, you feel like nobody ain't learnin' nothin'.

Life happens.

When you plan your school schedule, include sick/emergency days, and occasional breaks. Then plan for those days. Time to regroup, rest, and heal doesn't mean you have to become inert. These are times when you can enjoy some light reading, engage in creative play, do an easy and fun craft project, or watch an educational video and talk about it. 

Of course, the point is to rest and recover, so don't go overboard with planning  for down time, or else it won't exactly be down time, will it? The point is to prepare ahead of time for those days when your family needs to deal with a larger issue, but still maintain some sense of normalcy. You may feel like you aren't "doing school", but your kids are taking it all in, and they can learn good habits for bouncing back from adversity.

And then. . . KABOOM!

This time it's not just a sick day or minor emergency. It's catastrophic. A serious accident, unemployment, a death in the family. Although we know these days will come, we never truly prepare for tragedy.

When it's really a disaster, how do we not only recover, but regain lost ground? While our hearts are still wounded, advice about how to deal with it seems shallow, trite, and insincere.

As a Christian, I find comfort in verses that assure us that we have access to strength and consolation.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,
and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

And then there's the fact that no matter what happens, life goes on, the world keeps turning, the sun rises, the sun sets, you walk by putting one foot in front of the other, you breathe in, you breathe out. You get on with it.

Prepare for homeschool interruptions by incorporating flexibility into your plans, and deciding ahead of time how you will cope with emergencies large and small. Even the smallest amount of forethought can have a huge impact on how your family handles the realities of homeschooling and of life.

How do you deal with interruptions in your homeschool? Share in the comments.