Navigating Homeschooling, Chronic Illness and Chemo


I often get asked how (and why!) I do what I do. I’m a homeschooling mom of two boys (ages 10 and 11). We chose to homeschool because our oldest son has chronic lung disease and often has a compromised immune system due to treatments. He also has many anaphylactic food allergies (milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts and seeds) and homeschooling just made sense. His anxiety at school was often high and he also missed a lot of school due to being hospitalized from respiratory illnesses.

On top of being a homeschooling mom whose primary goal is to educate and care for her children, I have a lot of illnesses as well. I have a spinal disease that is degenerative and causes me to need chemotherapy each week.

Having the kids home actually relieves my stress in some ways. I am not constantly worried about if my oldest son is behind in class due to weeks of absence. I don’t worry daily if he’s safe or being exposed to an allergen. I don’t wait and pace by the phone all day expecting a call from the school nurse.

Homeschooling through chronic illness requires balance and strategic planning. I have chemo on Friday so that I have the weekend to deal with illness and side effects in order to be ready for the school week on Monday. We finish our school work in a few hours each day and I don’t have to pull my son out of class when he needs to go to the doctor. I can more freely schedule appointments for him knowing he isn’t falling behind or missing out on something at school.

I find this lifestyle can be stressful in other ways, such as the fact that I don’t have an education degree; rather, mine is in psychology. I have realized that school and learning are so individualized, though, that I feel teaching both of my boys at home is more personal and relates more to their individual preferences.

Is it tiring? Sure. Am I exhausted? Yes! But, I’ve also found that my depression and anxiety are somewhat alleviated and I find that I’m a lot more motivated now than I used to be. I don’t know how long I’ll teach my boys this way or how long I’ll feel like I can keep up with the fast paced routine we have, but I know that right now it’s what is right for us. I love seeing them grow and learn every day and we are enjoying our time at home together.

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