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When Chronic Medical Conditions Impact Your Homeschool

I am not that super organized, Pinterest perfect, Homeschool Mama! I am the purchase several different curriculums, change curriculum in the middle of the school year, “Well, this can count as homeschool, right?” kind of Homeschool Mom.

As a large family with six children still living at home, things can get mighty crazy on a regular basis. Although we have a structure and routine for how our day flows, we often deviate from it because of the many, shall I say, “personalities” of our precious children. Each day, we never really know what we are going to get.

Our, Game Changing, little guy decided that he was going to test the strength and endurance of our family and homeschool structure. After struggling to get my little guy to eat baby food, we decided it was time to seek a specialist. When all the labs and blood work were in, we found out that our baby was diagnosed as failure to thrive because of his inability to properly empty his stomach. To help him, he needed to be hospitalized to have a nasogastric tube inserted. He would begin 10-hour overnight feedings to replace the nutrients he was not receiving.

After a four-day hospital stay and training from some amazing nurses and staff, we learned how to care for his tube, change his tube, and prepare his feedings. We were set to care for our son! Then reality hit us, we still had the responsibility to educate our two sixth grade, fourth grade, and pre-kindergarten children.  How were we ever going to get into a homeschool routine again with all the doctor’s appointments we were now facing?

For a few weeks, everything was so new. Beeping machines through the night, knock-down, drag out, screaming matches when we tried to reinsert our son’s tube, it was all very overwhelming for everyone. Our older children were barely producing enough work to even call school.  We decided we had to reorganize, sit down with our children and hold a family meeting. The kids had a chance to ask questions, express their feelings and concerns, and talk about their fears. We talked with our children how we were feeling and came up with Three Truths to Remember when Chronic Medical Conditions Impact Your Homeschool.

  1. Homeschool Doesn’t Have to Be at Home

Homeschooling and having a child with medical needs can be tricky. Our son’s multiple appointments with his specialist caused our family to be out of the house more than in the house many weeks. Instead of giving up on keeping a structure and routine, we decided to restructure our structure. Just like that, the waiting area of our Children’s Hospital became a classroom! Book bags and lunch boxes were now part of our regular packing list for our older kids. This slight change to our structure allowed our children to still complete work during our new journey.

  1. Coordinate Your Chaos

As a family with eight children, six who still live at home, things are often chaotic. Keeping our home organized, meals prepared, laundry done, and children from working each other’s nerves is as difficult as keeping a bowl full of slime from ever touching the floor.  Our new way of homeschooling showed us how to coordinate our chaos. We implemented new lesson plans, chore charts, cleaning schedules, meal planning, and our family buddy system for getting out the door. These techniques helped us get a better handle of the day to day of our home and helped to reduce much of the stress we were initially all feeling.

  1. Re-shift Your Homeschool Focus.

When we started the school year, I had a TON of ideas, field trips, projects, lapbooks, and groups that we were going to join. This year was going to be amazing! Three months into our year the focus shifted. All the trips and groups we were looking forward to, were no longer an option with our heavy schedule of appointments. Our focus on trying to be the perfect homeschool family shifted to allowing our children to move through life’s obstacles and see them as a learning experience. We began to focus on the idea that “Daily Life Is Homeschool Life.”

It has been six months since we began this journey with our little guy. He is still on a feeding tube, we are still running to multiple appointments, and those crazy machines still play their lovely alarms through the night. The difference is, we have all grown to love our new reality. Our children have learned valuable time management, organizational skills, developed the ability to be flexible and have gained a deeper compassion for one another. The lessons of compassion and love for their family members is equally as important as everything else placed in the scope and sequence of our curricula. This lesson is something we just couldn’t plan for!


Christel is a wife and mommy to 8 exceptional children When she isn’t busy with her squad, you can find her blogging at Perfectly Blended and Blessed or on Facebook.  She spends her days homeschooling their youngest 6, running the families non-profit organization, Focusing on Families, Inc., working as an Educational Consultant, and finding ways to be the “Chaos Coordinator” in their ever so crazy and quirky blended family.

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