Editor’s note: Carrie’s response to this question was originally written several years ago, at a time when our son Greyson was dealing with particularly difficult health complications.
How can I adjust how I homeschool my children as I care for my Dad?
My Dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. For the past five weeks, I’ve taken him to his appointments. I am drained. School is not happening. I’d love some advice on how to adjust my homeschooling. My 12 yo (7th grader in the fall) is in Preparing Hearts, Unit 12. She has 30 lessons left in R & S English 4. I want her to finish Singapore 5A to 6B next school year with six lessons a week. She is extremely independent with Preparing. We haven’t used DITHOR, but she constantly reads.
My 9 yo (4th grader in the fall) is in Beyond, Unit 13. We just started R & S English 2. It is easy for her. She could probably handle Bigger, except it is daunting for me to adjust to right now. She reads very well. Though we haven’t started DITHOR, she could certainly handle the reading level for 2/3. She is behind in math and is currently halfway through Singapore 2A.
My 5 yo has a November birthday and will start kindergarten in the fall. I just recently started Singapore Kindergarten Math with him. He LOVES it! I don’t think he is ready for formal reading quite yet though. He probably needs a good year to practice his letter sounds. My mommy heart really wishes I could enjoy this special time with just him. I just cannot continue to hope this season is going to end because it seems to be one health problem after another. How can I adjust how I homeschool my children as I care for my Dad?
“Ms. Please Help Me Adjust Homeschooling to Care for My Dad”
Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Adjust Homeschooling to Care for My Dad,”
I am so sorry that you are going through such a difficult time! The life of the hospital and doctor visits is very draining, isn’t it?!? We have been in a difficult time as well recently. Our son has been in the hospital over 160 days off and on, not counting doctor’s visits outside of that! We too thought this would pass, but we can see this “season” of our lives may be the new normal for awhile. So, we adjust and do what we can.
Adjust your seventh grader’s homeschooling by moving her into a guide with more planned independence.
First of all, let’s do some brainstorming about some things you can adjust that may help you in this season. Of course these are just ideas, and you will ultimately know best what may or may not work. In looking at the ages of your kiddos, I am thinking we need to focus first on your upcoming 7th grader. I encourage you to take a peek at the placement chart with fresh eyes. If she were new to HOD, where would you place her? Considering her age and what you’ve shared thus far about her skill level, I would probably look at moving her toward CTC. As long as your oldest is a pretty good reader and is fairly independent, she will most likely thrive there.
While you may be thinking that there would be no time for CTC, because you are struggling to get to Preparing, it is good to remember that Preparing is really not meant to be very independent while CTC is! This means your daughter will be able to do more on her own in CTC, since it is written that way. Even if she only gets to 1/2 days or 3/4 days each day, that will be more than she has been getting with Preparing. Plus, she will be moving forward in a guide that suits her well.
Adjust your seventh grade daughter’s schedule to homeschool just certain times or to do just certain boxes each day.
You could adjust your daughter’s day by having her just school to a certain time each day (like 1:00). Or, she can homeschool for a set amount of time each day (like 3 hours). She can just get as much done as she can in that time. Or, you could have her do a certain amount of boxes (like 5) each day. Then, stop. The next day pick up where you left off. Just be sure to check all the boxes on a single day of plans before beginning the next day of plans.
Ways to Adjust English and DITHR
English 4 is scheduled half-speed in CTC, so you will be well-placed with English 4. I would just continue doing a lesson in English 4 each time it comes up in the CTC guide, starting wherever you are in English 4 now and going forward from there. Once you finish English 4, just head into English 5 doing a lesson each time it comes up in the CTC guide. For DITHR, I would just have your oldest read a chapter in the DITHR book set you have each time DITHR comes up. Don’t worry about doing the DITHR lessons right now. Just have her systematically read her DITHR book you have assigned her when it comes up in the plans.
Ways to Adjust Singapore Math
Next, I would look at the math plan. Singapore math is great, and you did a wonderful job of working super hard on moving through the levels with your oldest. Currently though, the math plan is faltering simply because it is too much. I want to assure you that if your daughter gets through Singapore 5A/5B this coming year for grade 7 and does either 6A/6B or Principles of Mathematics Book 2 her 8th grade year, she will be ready to begin Algebra I as a freshman. This is what my sons did, and they have done very well with math. So, my advice would be to downshift to doing math only on regular school days. This would mean doing math 4-5 days a week.
Adjust your 9 year-old’s day by choosing the best placement now.
Next, let’s look at your 9 year-old take a look at the placement chart with fresh eyes. Is her best placement still Beyond? If it is, she should remain there. But if not, she should move up to Bigger. If you do move to Bigger, do it half-speed. Be encouraged that half-speed Bigger is not really any longer than full-speed Beyond. Plus, you will feel less like your child is behind if she is placed in a guide that fits her. Guilt about being behind is huge! So, we want to get rid of the guilt by getting your kiddos well-placed.
English 2 is scheduled in Bigger so that would work well if you moved her up. Singapore 2A/2B is scheduled in Bigger also. If she hasn’t completed the Emerging Reader’s Set, be sure to go through those books first for reading. Then, move to the 2/3 book set next having her read a chapter a day each time you do school. You can wait on formal DITHR lessons. The reading is the important part right now.
Ways to Adjust Your 5 Year-Old’s Day
Next, for your 5 year-old, I would probably work on math, phonics, and handwriting with him right now. I don’t know if you have ever considered the possibility of having a babysitter/mother’s helper type person come to work with your 5 year old. But, you could consider doing that for a season a few mornings a week. If you did have a person who could do that for a couple hours a couple of mornings a week that person could do Little Hearts with your 5 year old then. If no one like that is available, you could instead do phonics, math, handwriting, and fine motor skills workbooks from LHFHG with him until you get to a calmer place in life. That would actually work to do all year!
I would for sure have him do Singapore K (like you are doing), phonics (possibly with The Reading Lesson because it is easy open-and-go), A Reason for Handwriting K, and Rod and Staff workbooks Do It Carefully and Finding the Answers. Try to do math (15 min.) and phonics (15 min.) and either handwriting or a page of a Rod and Staff workbook (15-20 min.) each time you meet with your son to do school. Then, the following year you could move into Little Hearts with the first grade options for language arts and math instead of the K options. If your 5 year old is a good listener, you could read aloud at lunch or at morning recess break with your 5 and 9 year-olds. Just use the storytime scheduled in either Beyond or Bigger Hearts too to work on listening skills!
For summer, you might either want a break right now or will want to do half days. Remember that when you do start school again, slow steady progress is still progress. So, even if you do half days you are still progressing! Anyway, these are just a few ideas!