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One of the advantages of homeschooling is that school doesn’t have to be all or nothing when someone is sick. You can rest for a while and do just the easy subjects for the day. You can change the lesson plans to include more documentaries or audiobooks. You have full flexibility on how to design your homeschool sick day.
Sometimes the decision is easy. A child that is so sick they can’t stay awake needs to be in bed sleeping. A child crying in pain can’t focus on school and needs a break (and a hug). In those cases a homeschool sick day means a full stop to the normal routine in order to recuperate and heal.
Other times declaring a homeschool sick day isn’t so clear-cut. Colds and allergies can drag on for weeks. How can you still get school work done while feeling under the weather?
Homeschool sick day for children
Maybe your child is just starting to come down with a cold. They are not feeling their best, but don’t need to be in bed all day. On those days I like to restructure our routine.
Do the ‘easy’ subjects first. Start with whatever is easy for your child and progress from there as they feel up to it. Reading stories, audio books, and movies are easy ways to slowly ease into the school day. If they do a little bit and then don’t feel up to anymore, that is a-okay.
Take extra breaks. Children that are not feeling great seem to run out of energy and patience much faster than usual. Offer them plenty of opportunities to take breaks and rest if they are starting to get frustrated.
Change the lesson plans. There is more than one way to teach a lesson. Sometimes a quality video is exactly the type of learning experience needed. Netflix has a great selection of documentaries. I have a Netflix profile designated as ‘homeschool’ and I add documentaries and educational shows when I find them. I have a list already waiting for me when we need a show.
Leave the choice about outings up to the child. They know what they can handle. If they do not feel up for a trip to the library, put it off for another day. Let them stay home and rest if that is what they need. The library will still be there next week. On the other hand, if they feel up to it and they are not contagious, then go for it. Follow your child’s lead.
Cancel school. It is okay to cancel all school for the day if your child is really not feeling well. The work will always be there when they are better.
Keep the germs at home. If a child has a fever or stomach bug they should avoid exposing other people. This means no library trips, no park days, and no co-op.
Homeschool sick day for parents
Homeschool sick days for parents are a lot trickier to orchestrate than sick days for kids. I think we have a tendency to push ourselves too hard when we really should rest because we are afraid the house will fall apart without us. You need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself plenty of grace.
Cut out the extras. If you are not feeling great, try to slow down the day. Do only the essential subjects and use the extra time to rest on the couch. Give yourself teaching breaks and pace yourself throughout the day.
Leave the kids in charge. If your kids are old enough, you can just set a few rules and head up to bed. I recently was overcome with a migraine in the middle of the day. I reminded Hannah and Ben of the rules – no going outside, no opening the door, no cooking with the stove or oven, and no knives – and went upstairs to try to sleep off the headache. They wanted to play outside after I came back downstairs, so they did all of the school subjects they could do independently while I rested.
Call in a substitute teacher (a.k.a. educational games). Teach via any alternative method you can think of that will make the day easier. There are so many wonderful websites available that it would be easy to fill multiple hours a day learning online. The kids will be happy with the extra screen time and you can be mostly hands off.
Quit all other jobs. You know the 1,001 things you do in your day? Just don’t do them for the day. Ask your family to pitch in to help keep the house reasonably tidy. Order take out for dinner. Everyone will survive and the house will still be standing when you are feeling better.
Above all else, remember that you are a parent first and a teacher second.
How do you handle homeschool sick days in your home?