Homeschooling When Sickness Hits

I bet you can relate to this scene!

You are nursing full time to the sick kiddos in your home, so you get derailed from teaching the kids not sick. Then when the sick ones get better, the healthy ones get sick! This can go on for several weeks, one sick kiddo at a time!

Then you get sick.

What can a homeschool mom do?

You could just be sick and skip school, right?

“Plug-in” the kids with a few documentaries and viola it counts as a school day, right? BUT you have already missed so much time with them…

Or you could do these TOP 3 easy things that actually still get school work done while you are in survival mode.

Over the past 25 years homeschooling my seven kiddos, there were plenty of times that I actually never got sick, call it mom-immunity!! But there were also plenty of times that I too got whatever was running through my family!

I do not live near any of my close relatives and most family is about two hours away. I had to learn early on how to manage without much help!

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I truly believe that! More importantly, I do believe that God’s grace is sufficient. All too often I was way too hard on myself and expected way too much!

Having mom or the family sick brings with it amble opportunities to really focus on the overall important things of life.

Tip #1: Mandatory Quiet time

This tip is especially helpful when you have kiddos all under the age of 8. During this time of my life, I would gather every, single one of us in my bedroom and close the door. Heck, I got my cold from them so we would just plop on my bed in one, giant, sick bundle.

My family LOVES to color and this really was a salvation. I would always keep on hand imaginative, coloring books such as the ones from Dover Publications. This publisher is a fantastic resource because of the enormous wealth of coloring book choices with excellent and informative illustrations. To make it count as homeschooling, I chose coloring books correlated with our current school work in history, science or literature! The company offers free samples, you can just download now. They often have free shipping too. My best bets are the history coloring books, or the nature coloring books, something for everyone at different ages!

Tip #2: Reading aloud

Having sickness in the house, whether it is just the kiddos or includes mom, is the perfect opportunity to have read aloud time take over most of the homeschooling day. Count your sickness as a blessing to get you started in one of the most profound experiences in your child’s development, reading to you or listening to others read aloud! There are so many benefits to reading aloud, from the practical, such as language development, knowledge gained and shared, literacy skills, brain development to the spiritual and so much more!

I did a post: How to Make Read Aloud Time Work, with helpful tips and book recommendations. Read together from the couch or bed! Pick important stories too, that infuse virtues into your homeschool! Love this quote…

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

GK Chesterton

I have plenty of book reviews here on the BLOG. And I keep adding more weekly! These are book reviews culled from my 25 years of homeschooling and running our family business choosing the best books!

Tip #3: Play with Games and Toys

Yes, I did say play with games and toys and I mean for it to count as a homeschool day! However, not just any games or toys. I do not mean computer games. There are plenty of them, and free ones too BUT when you are sick or the kids are sick, it is so easy to lose track of time. Even if you set a timer for the kids to limit computer time, survival mode is not the time to monitor their computer usage. The result of which would only cause you to spend time trying to undo the damage of brain fatigue with crabby kids!

kids with tangram

It is really important to have on hand games and toys that actually teach important skills, such as spatial relationships, math skills, reasoning, color, matching, sequencing, timelines, communications, creativity, etc. Do you see where I am going with this? No babysitting by using TV and the computer!

Here is a handy list of my best games and toys that count for homeschooling:

  • Tangrams or Pattern Blocks- spatial relations, color recognition, patterning
  • Lacing and Tracing Cards – fine motor skills
  • Puppets – ones they make from a kit or animal and fairy tale figures (for storytelling)
  • Beading and laces – for patterns, colors, sequencing
  • Double-sided Geoboards – basic geometry of squares, rectangles, triangles, polygons and symmetry
  • Puzzles – letter recognition, spatial relations
  • Scrabble or Hangman – spelling practice
  • Two-sided counters – practice math facts

BONUS Tip – for your older kiddos

Chances are the older kiddos can manage most of their assigned work themselves for a few days, with no great loss. They most certainly should be able to read all assigned work. They can write down all their questions, or jot the pages from their workbooks that gave them trouble while you were down and out. I often found that without relying on my constant presence they could do a heck more than they realize. All too often they know how to do just the minimum which includes asking mom for the answers. Here is their chance to stretch themselves and you.

Give the big kiddos the chance to shine and be the family hero by asking them to teach their younger sibling a subject, be it math or spelling or something they love and excel in. Teaching younger siblings reinforces already learned concepts and skills with the added benefit that the repetition reinforces and strengthens it.

Be gentle with yourself! Rest, and get better homeschool mom!

What are your survival mode tips? Please comment below! The best tips come from those of us in the trenches!!!

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  1. Mary Fifer

    Hi Paola! Another activity that engaged our children well was building with Duplo (huge Legos). The children could build and build, even the older children enjoyed making pyramids and other structures – especially to show the younger children. And… they’re easy to clean up. 🙂

    Once in a while, when I was super ill, it worked very well to start quiet time with a Rosary. One of the older children can lead and all of us follow. This way, some little ones might also fall asleep. 🙂

    A holy Lent to you and yours.

  2. Ashley

    Once, our whole family got the stomach flu. My oldest and I got the wave at the same time, so we huddled on the bed, had the little one play on the floor, and laid down listening to audio books with a trash can between us. It was absolutely awful, but one of my best memories.

  3. Charlotte Raffanti

    We listened to The Truth and Life Audio bible, since my daughter was doing an essay on John the Apostle. Since my daughter, my son and I all had colds it was a great day for relaxing research. When we’re quiet and listen to the Holy Spirit the results often lead us to say “We’re glad God slowed us down so that we could listen.”

    • Paola Ciskanik

      Yes, great idea, we love the Truth and Life Audio Bible! God is good to give us rest here on earth before our “Eternal Rest,” just hen we need a good dose of it!

  4. Debbie

    I would let the kids “Power Ahead” in subjects in which they excel or can work independently. We DID choose to watch some TV but would pick a movie make of a book we had read like Little House on the Prairie or a Drive through History type of documentary. As the kids got older – we watched Mythbusters when I wasn’t feeling well. It did help them with the Scientific process.
    We would watch movies about the Lives of the Saints, etc…
    If a child wasn’t feeling well – they could do easier subjects, read, play games, etc…depending on the severity of their illness.

    • Paola Ciskanik

      Oh Debbie, I forgot about Mythbusters, a family favorite! Yay! I think many parishes offer the new “Formed” platform that has such a great wealth of videos, and tons of audios too! A family can join individually i beleive, as we have been playing with the idea ourselves BUT being previously in the book business, we are blessed to be well stocked with tons of Catholic materials to use in our homeschool! Thanks Debbie!


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