Monday, October 5, 2009

Sick Days

The kids and I are all sick. I think we have the flu, but I'm pretty sure we'll live, despite what the CDC may think!

This has given me the opportunity to think about yet another advantage of homeschooling. A homeschooling family can take illness in stride, knowing that they write their own schedules and can make adjustments to meet the needs of sick kids. In fact, I've known several families who have chosen home education for a chronically or severely ill child. When getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge, and a child is regularly missing school due to health issues, it makes sense to allow the child to learn at his or her own pace, at home.

How does home education make it easier for families to cope with the occasional cold bug or flu virus?

Here are a few ways:

~Homeschooling families are not as beholden to the calendar as families with kids in conventional schools. We can have school on the weekends, over holidays, and throughout the whole summer. We can take as much time off as we need to regain our health and strength, and then pick up where we left off.

Compare this to a conventionally school child who falls ill. When he becomes too ill to go to school, he falls behind. He may be able to receive homework and reading assignments to complete while he is home, but this doesn't completely solve the problem. What if he is too sick to do them? Will he be able to understand what he is being asked to do if he hasn't been in class to hear the lesson from the teacher? If he misses many days of school, how will he catch up? For a child that is struggling academically to begin with, a week out may be virtually impossible to recover from.

To avoid this situation, many parents send sick children to school. This makes it very likely that the rest of the class will be exposed to the germs and become ill--and the cycle continues.

~In a misguided effort to make sure that school children become ill as infrequently as possible, the CDC and state governments are requiring more and more vaccines for school attendance. We are vaccinating our children for diseases that rarely cause complications--such as the chicken pox, as well as for diseases that our children are unlikely to catch--such as Hepatitis B. No long term studies have been done to show the safety of receiving this many inoculations at such young ages, and many parents report that their children have developed long term health complications after receiving these shot.

In many states, the shots are required only for children attending public schools. Homeschooling families may simply refuse the vaccines at the doctor's office. In most states, waivers are attainable if parents wish to send their non-vaccinated children to public school. Most parents don't know this, as it is rarely advertised.

Recently, there has been a lot of hype and confusion about H1N1, or "Swine Flu" as it is often referred to, and its vaccine. For up-to-date information about the virus and the vaccine, and what it means for your family, visit .

~A home educating family's school day can start and stop whenever we want or need it to. We can allow an ill child to sleep in, have an abbreviated school day consisting of mild activities, and give the child plenty of time to rest and recuperate. There is no worry that the child will fall behind his classmates--we just do what we can and pick up where we left off.

So, what kinds of activities can we do with sick kids in the house? Here are some examples:

  • Read aloud. Pick some favorite picture books and chapter books, and read to your sick child. I find that even very young children can understand and appreciate far more interesting literature than we give them credit for. Spend an afternoon with The Boxcar Children, Charlotte's Web, or Little House on the Prairie. All of these books include some illustrations to engage children's interest without being what Charlotte Mason would refer to as twaddle.
  • Spend Time Observing a Pet or Plant. The cat I had as a child always seemed to know when I was sick. She would carefully jump up onto my lap, crawl under the covers with me, and purr, presumably to comfort me and keep me warm. Many doctor's offices keep aquariums because observing the movements of fish has been shown to reduce stress. An ill child can be situated near a window, where he or she can watch the wind blow through the trees, the rain or snow as it falls, and the activities of local animals: squirrels, rabbits, mourning doves, and robins around here. If the child is well enough, she might like to write or draw in a nature journal about this experience.
  • Learn About Health, Nutrition, and the Human Body. There are all kinds of free resources available, both online and at the library, for teaching children about sickness, health, and our fearfully and wonderfully made bodies and immune systems. Take some time with your children to learn about how God created their bodies to fight off illness, and what we can do as people to keep our bodies healthy.
  • (Judiciously) Use Educational Videos. We prefer not to turn the TV on most days in our household. However, when mom is sick in addition to the children, a little bit of wisely chosen educational programing can be a treat. Some of our favorites include:
    • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. If the people who are carrying on the legacy of dear Fred Rogers would only publish a complete DVD set of "How People Make Things", my five year old son would be forever grateful. Mr. Rogers is one of the few children's programs still on the air that we are comfortable allowing our children to watch.
    • Beatrix Potter. A few of her tales are available on video and DVD. The animations are simple and very true to the originals. It is like having the story read to you.
    • Thomas the Tank Engine. In a similar vain, the older Thomas the Tank Engine Videos and DVDs are true to the original tales by the Rev. Awdry,  and are like setting foot into a model train collection. The more recent releases that use computer animation are rather disappointing.
    • Disney's American Legends. I am normally not a Disney fan, but this DVD is wonderful. The tall tales of American history come to life--hear the stories of John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, and Casey Jones. The animations were completed in 1958. Introductions by James Earl Jones were added when the DVD was published.
    • The Adventures of Milo and Otis. You can probably find this endearing tale of a curious cat and a pug-nosed-pup in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. It is a live action movie, without any silly attempts to animate the animals' mouths. The story is told by Dudley Moore, and the cinematography is superb. Both my 3 year old and my 5 year old would probably tell you that this is their favorite movie.
    • Moody Institute of Science--Wonders of God's Creation. When we again have two nickles to rub together, this series is next on our list. Live action videos teach the wonders of creation science to children and adults of all ages.
I think that's about all I have the energy to type this morning. I think I'll go and brew a cup of lemon tea with honey...


Robin said...

Hi, love your blog. Just wanted you to know about another video that your family would enjoy. It is another Moody video called Mr. Fix-it Bible Adventures. You can get it from Vision Forum. It has 12 Bible stories that use old Sunday School pictures (no animation) to share about different characters from the Bible and applies them to our own character flaws. Even my teenagers love these stories! I have one grown, married son, a 17 year old son, a 15 year old son, and a lovely little girl aged 5! I commented because you sound just like me with our viewing and schooling. We have homeschooled for 10 years and it has been the greatest adventure of my life. Glad to have found you.

Blessings to you and yours,

Tiana said...

Thanks Robin! It's always great to hear from other homeschooling moms who are further down the path than we are! I will definitely look into the video you mentioned. I have a special place in my heart for Moody, as I am a graduate of their Bible Institute, and I love Vision Forum.

Blessings to You!


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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
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Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
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