I am Angela, mum to 7 and wife to 1 very lovely man. My children's ages are boys, 15, 9, 6 and girls, 13, 3, and 20 months. Our eldest daughter would have just turned 17, but she passed away 7 years ago. Her death led us to homeschool and we have been doing so for the past 6 years. Having 2 of our daughters born with CF, (cystic fibrosis) we knew we were going to face many challenges; losing them was a definite prospect, but we didn't think it would have come so soon for our firstborn. We looked at our family and decided that for us we wanted to spend as much time together to form a closer bond and friendships among all of us.
Angela and Joey, 2004, five months before Joey passed away
Ultimately though, the desire to point our children to Jesus, how much He loved them, and what He has done for them was paramount, and then came academics. I can say it hasn't always been easy, but I am so very happy we made this decision.
Emma our 13-year-old, with CF, has enjoyed being homeschooled, and because of it, we have been able to cater to her health needs, and academic needs in a very specific way. She has many hospital admissions in a year, at times has been very unwell; other times, it has been a planned admission to just keep her well, and keep ahead of the game.
With all these planned and unplanned interruptions to our school time, I have had to learn to be organized and plan ahead. I still fail on many occasions, and it hasn't come easy to me, but I have learned the hard way; flying by the seat of my pants, just doesn't work for me. I just don't like feeling unprepared. I have not always been organized, I like to be spontaneous. To do my children justice, though, they need routine, and to a greater extent I need them to know what they can do for themselves. Usually Emma had some work to do in the hospital, and I would carry on with the boys at home, with me planning a week at a time. It could be very tiring for me to be so close to the wire.
I had read a long while ago how Kendra had planned out her whole year, and was so intrigued by it, I thought I would try a smaller chunk of time though to see how it went. Just recently, with very little warning, Emma and I were sent to a Children's Hospital 500 km from home. I was so grateful to have this planning in place that when it came to pulling all the work needed for my boys to do while I was away, I left feeling comfortable that the essentials were going to be covered. My son and husband did a wonderful job of overseeing that.
Our schedule at home is a bit more relaxed; I can enjoy the time to be spontaneous and learn with the kids, and focus on the subjects we can cover when we are all together.
I have learned over the past 6 years, that although the interruptions that can happen in our school time can be stressful, they can also be full of learning. Learning to be patient, forgiving, showing compassion, working together as a team, and most of all, learning that even though life doesn't always go to plan, God has it all in His hands. We can't know our future, or Emma's for that matter, but I have always known that the Lord, in His wisdom gave us our girls, not to burden us, or cause us pain, but to bless us, to be a blessing to others, and I do feel blessed! I don't have it all together, but I trust the One who made my children, and I know He has a plan for all of them. I know also that in spite of me, He will see that plan unfold.
If you have a child with a disability or illness, it can make your homeschool look a little different to the usual, but each one is unique in its own way. If you need to accept help also, do it. I have on a number of occasions had home help. Sometimes, it was what kept me sane.
What I know that works - Pray, prepare, and trust in the Lord.
Angela Taylor is the homeschooling mum of seven, living on the top of New Zealand's beautiful South Island. She has lent my daughter her Emma, and the two have been Skype pals for the past year, often sitting up into the wee West Coast hours giggling together and learning about each other. Our dream is to get the two girls together to meet IRL.