“Mom? Mooooommmm. Mom, would you listen to me?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. What is it, sweetie?”
“Mom, was your head in the clouds again?”
“Yes, dear, I guess it was. What did you want?”
“Never mind. I’m tired of saying it.”
I’m sure we’ve all sounded that way with our children at some point—usually with a computer in front of us, screen aglow with internet browsers, word processors, and Twitter applications. For me, though, that conversation often happens in the middle of a lesson I was just a few moments ago actively teaching.
As far as I can tell, my oldest son has a perfectly normal attention span for a 7 year old boy. Unfortunately, so does his mother. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, and growing up doesn’t seem to have helped very much.
One minute I’m happily chirping away about helping verbs, and the next, my unseeing gaze is fixed on some distant point in the meadow outside, entirely forgetful of the lesson I was teaching. Some new thought occurs to me, or I see a movement out of the corner of my eye demanding my attention, and several unaccounted-for minutes later, I’m staring down at my lesson plan trying to figure out what I was doing, feeling like a fool and an incompetent teacher.
I’ve learned a few things about keeping up with homeschooling when mom is the one with special needs. Whether it be adult ADD or chronic fatigue (which I also deal with), or something even more serious, you can still be an effective homeschooling mom! Here are a few things I’ve learned that help me get through, even on the days when my muddled mind seems to be more of a problem student than a capable teacher.
Make today an unschooling day, even if you’re not an unschooler. If you’re entirely un in your methods, you can skip this one. You already know how valuable self-guided learning can be. Our family is a little less relaxed than that–I’m of a Classical mind–but I’ve learned that my school-age kids suffer none of the limitations I do, so I let them guide themselves whenever I find myself unable to continue.
Your kids are watching you struggle, and they’re learning to deal with adversity. Even though an unschool day is a great remedy occasionally, there really is no substitute for sticking to your plans, even when you feel like you’re getting it wrong. Did you let a mildly bad day send you back to bed, or did you show them perseverance? Your children are not learning what is acceptable behavior in times of difficulty from those cute little character-building books you bought. They’re learning it from you, whether you like it or not!
Laugh at yourself. Often, the only thing stopping me from getting back on track is fretting over what I’ve gotten wrong. It can, after all, be rather embarrassing to lose track of your thoughts in the very middle of expressing them. If I can find the humor in what I’m experiencing, I can shake it off and try again. If I get stressed out about things, the day might as well be over. I know some disabilities don’t seem to lend themselves to hum0r, but I’m convinced that God gave us our funny bones to help us get through the hard parts with grace.
Look at what others have accomplished. I know of several homeschooling moms who suffer from illnesses that are considered crippling, but who shoulder the burden of educating their children with cheerfulness. It helps to know that my imperfections aren’t going to ruin my children! Those who have walked this path before me light the way with their experience. Their children have made it, and so will mine!
Finally, never stop praying. God teaches us His most valuable lessons through our weaknesses. Your children are not the only ones still growing, you know! Use your disability to draw closer to God, and let your children see you doing it. No lesson will serve your children better than learning to lean on Jesus when their own brains and bodies fail them.
How about you, moms? Do you face any unusual challenges in your homeschooling?
Cindy Dyer is a rookie homeschooling mom of 4 (and counting) wonderful kids. She’s is a social media and blogging enthusiast (aka addict). When she’s not buried under piles of laundry or up to her elbows in bread dough, you can find her on Twitter or at Get Along Home, where she blogs about motherhood, homeschooling, food, and whatever else catches her fancy.