The Lord was good to me, and the van didn’t roll. It seems that a young man, stopped in the middle lane of a highway, decided to turn left while reading a map. That was a problem–you see, I was already driving along in the left-hand turn lane. Thankfully, my children weren’t in the van at the time of impact. My life was derailed for a time by an unexpected event that left me with a sprained neck, back and foot, and a van that needed a little TLC.
Note: This post first published in January, 2014.
Coping with the Unexpected on Your Homeschool Journey….
When I first started homeschooling, I would read homeschool forums across the internet, desperate for advice and camaraderie. One of the most common questions I’d see was, “What do we do if someone gets sick?”
It’s a fair question, I think.
Let’s face it–sometimes unexpected events occur. In homeschooling, there are no substitute teachers. Relatives visit, children get sick, moms fall ill or injured, or dads end up at home on days they were expected to be working. My own years of homeschooling have never gone quite as I planned them.
Not to worry, friend. You, your children, and your homeschool can survive the unexpected. I’ll suggest a few pointers from my own bumpy homeschool experience, and then you can share some of your best tips.
1) Take a deep breath.
You’re faced with an unexpected life event. Relax. God knew all about this moment long before it ever occurred. Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) says: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Only the Lord knows why an unexpected event has intruded on your life. But we can trust that He knows what He’s doing. e also know that He’ll work all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
2) Consult the Plan
As we read above in Proverbs 19:21, we can have many plans, but at the end of the day, only the Lord’s purpose will stand. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have a plan for the year. It just means our plan belongs to God. Take a look at your plan and determine where you have room for change. Maybe you can condense a few weeks of history and science to allow for some time off. Perhaps you will need to extend your school year or shorten a break. The nice thing about having a written agenda is that you can make changes to your year without completely changing course.
3) Make a Clear Decision
Do you have a cold? Take 2 days off. Are you scheduled for major surgery? Plan for a few weeks. Is your mom coming into town? Decide how you can best honor her during her visit. If it’s a long visit, think about how you can homeschool a little differently so that you’re not totally derailed, but the kids still have plenty of time with Grandma.
It’s a good idea to remember that with older kids, homeschooling isn’t always an all or nothing proposition. Even when you’re not available, your kids may still be able to do a fair amount of work on their own. We rarely cancel reading and math, regardless of what else is occurring.
4) Communicate Your Decision
It’s best to let everyone know what you’ve decided. Kids thrive on structure, and they dislike surprise classes. Likewise, I know the principal of our school always likes to be informed (if not consulted) of changes to the routine.
5) Get Back on Track
It’s absolutely acceptable (and sometimes downright necessary) to alter your original homeschool plan. It’s a fact of life: we all need a break once in a while. Deciding in advance to allow yourself time to deal with real life can head off guilt and anxiety over unexpected events. Once your surprise event is over, though, plan to jump back in to your educational venture.
Your school year may never turn out quite like you expected it to, but the Lord knew all along what you’d face this year.
More Homeschooling Posts at Thinking Kids
My Very Favorite Homeschool Room (How we organize our library)
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.