The following is a post from contributing writer Jennifer Fink of Blogging ‘Bout Boys
It was one of those days. My 6-year-old woke up at 4 AM, complaining that his eye hurt. Given his two recent bouts of pinkeye, I assumed that it was pinkeye and scheduled an appointment with his doc. I also assumed that I’d be able to get some things done. Wrong!
As it turns out, my son didn’t have pinkeye at all. Instead, he had a bit of burdock in his eye — and every time he blinked, the barbed seed scratched his cornea. No wonder my baby was hurting!
The doc referred us to an eye specialist, who removed the burdock, suggested some ointment for the eye and told us what to expect over the next few days. My son, thankfully, feels much better. My day, though, was in shambles. Can you relate?
A sick kid can easily throw a wrench into your well-oiled homeschool machine. Suddenly, all the plans you had for the day are out the window. One kid needs medical attention and TLC, while the others also need your attention. What’s a homeschool mama to do?
Homeschool Sick Day Survival Strategies
Math is important. But so is learning compassion. It’s OK to take a break from housework and schoolwork when a child is sick. Let the dishes pile up in the sink. Eat breakfast cereal for supper. Consciously choose to spend time cuddling your sick child, and let her siblings see you ministering to the child in need. Show them ways they can help as well.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine really rally around a sick sibling. They fight like cats and dogs every other day, but as soon as one is sick, they offer to bring water, read stories and put in movies.
Sick days offer ample opportunities to talk about health and wellness. My kids have learned a ton about the immune system and germs through our sick day conversations. (Great Sick Day stories include The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie and The Magic School Bus: Giant Germ)
We look at and discuss the posters and displays in doctors’ offices too. Today, my six-year-old learned about the structure of the eye while we waited for the ophthalmologist to come in.
Caring for a sick kid can make it almost impossible to keep up with the other kids’ school work. So settle in with some good movies instead. Why not try a movie based on a book you’ve recently read or studied?
Documentaries from the library are another good choice. So are classic movies and musicals. If you like, you can use the movies as a springboard to a unit study. (The website teachwithmovies.org is a subscription site, but has some great free examples, as well as list of appropriate movies by age.)
Depending on how sick your child is, he may be able to play games — and you might be able to sneak in some learning for your older kids via games as well. Monopoly and Yahtzee both reinforce math skills; Scrabble and Bananagrams reinforce spelling. Mad Libs teaches parts of speech — and requires little effort on the part of the sick kid.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to skip read-alouds, especially if your kids are older. Sick days are a perfect time to break out classic stories such as The Indian in the Cupboard or Little House on the Big Woods. If you settle in to read to your sick child, you’re probably find yourself surrounded by your other children before long.
Let older, healthy kids help with some chores around the house. Some chores, such as cooking, offer great opportunities for learning as well. (My 11-year-old learned fractions by baking cookies.)
How do you handle sick days?
Jennifer L.W. Fink is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys. She lives in Wisconsin with her boys, a dog, two cats and plenty of germs.
Join 17,000+ Other Awesome People
Subscribe to the Real Life at Home weekly newsletter to get our latest content, exclusive free printables, learning activities, and ideas for celebrating with your kids all year