Homeschooling Through the Death of a Child
Throughout life, we will have many trials and tribulations. This is certain whether we are Believers of Jesus Christ or not. How we handle them depends on our dependence on the Lord. But to some extent, I also think what sort of trial we are going through will determine how quickly we will “rebound” (and sometimes we do not ever “rebound” into who we were before our trial).
While I am very biased, because…well, it’s my tragedy (yes, a trial, but in my mind a tragedy)…I feel like our lives were forever changed and challenged when our son Ethan died the summer of 2010. He was 7, and such a joy and wonderful, godly son! Unfortunately, he died in a water-related accident. It was totally a freak accident. Our lives have never been the same. Only through the grace and strength of the Lord have I been able to get up each day and care for my family.
Prior to Ethan’s passing, we were overall, a very happy and productive family. We were ending our first year of homeschool—challenging, but fulfilling. Now let me be honest…it was a CHALLENGING first year, but such a blessing! It was challenging because…oh that’s right, you yourself might be a homeschool family just like us, and well, you know that just living life as homeschoolers is HARD.
Currently, I homeschool one child (Evan). When Ethan passed, his brother Evan was just 4. My intention was to go ahead and homeschool Evan alsongside Ethan, so that he could be just a couple of grade levels below Ethan. Even after my son’s passing, I truly thought I could PCS (military move—hubby is in the Air Force) 7 weeks later, set up a new home, and start Kindergarten with Evan. WRONG!!! Oh so wrong!!! And since Evan was of compulsory attendance age, I let it go. Yes, we did physical education once a week with other homeschoolers at a nearby gymnasium. We did some Explode the Code Primers, some Math-U-See Primer, and did some work from Plants Grown Up (Doorposts). But we were not on a time crunch, nor an over-bearing schedule.
We ALL needed time, collectively as a family, to heal. Evan lost his very best earthly friend in the world. He also needed to love and grace (and he still does) of his parents. What he doesn’t need is an over-bearing schedule of “twaddle” (using Miss Charlotte Mason’s famous word)…in other words, a bunch of worksheets so that I can check mark a bunch of “done” boxes.
I would suspect that your family too—assuming you are or have been going through a trial, might need to stop and assess what is really important. This is not to under-value education. Sometimes, we need to learn to live the “new normal” and soak in God’s Word.
More than anything, and something we cannot possibly get enough of, is His Word into our hearts and our children’s hearts. When we feast on His Word, we are encouraged and given hope that, in the midst of very difficult times, we can continue on. Not on our time, but His.
Depending on where you live, you might not be afforded the luxury of taking a lot of time off from school. Though I’ve not lived in a place where there is an issue, here are a couple of ideas that perhaps can keep you “legal” while still keeping you sane and in a place where you can heal/take care of daily life challenges/breathe, etc. There’s all could apply to those who live in a homeschool “hands-off” sort of state/place.
- If possible, look into notebooking or a unit study that is already put together for you. Think of something fun that you all could enjoy learning as a family. For example: homesteading (something we love as a family). In a lot of unit studies, you can still get in your 3 R’s and be in a relaxed setting!
- Visit your library often, and select living books (books that are intriguing, non-text bookish style, and hold a child’s attention and spark their creativity) to read aloud as a family. After reading, talk about the chapter or two or three together and draw pictures and write a few lines about the plot/characters, etc.
- Do more park/play days and field trips. When you are down, it’s super hard to stick at home all of the time! Of course, there may be situations where you’re unable to leave home much.
- Draw with your child. Play board games together. Plant a small garden together. Take walks together. Bake for your neighbors, and go meet them and say hello.
- Allow yourself “mental wellness days.” When life is chaotic and difficult, oftentimes the daily living stuff just simply gets neglected. There is absolutely educational value in cooking (home economics, reading and math), cleaning (home ec), laundry (home ec and math), cleaning out the car (home ec), raking leaves (science and PE), making a grocery list (reading/writing/home ec), etc. If our children can’t do the above basic skills, life will be difficult when they are eventually own their own or go to college, etc.
Finally, I want you to know that there are many, many families out there that have homeschooled through challenging times, or currently are doing so at this moment. You are NOT alone, because you have Jesus, and many others, including myself that care!
And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
Author Bio: You can find Shannon blogging at On This Glorious Homeschool Journey. Her blog is an array of topics, such as accepting Christ, picking wildflowers and gardening, living out in the country, walking through the loss of our son, and of course, homeschooling.
Homeschooling Through Difficult Times Series
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Shannon – thank you for sharing this hard, hard story. I know you have encouraged others.
You are so welcome! 🙂
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