Homeschooling with the Seasons of Life

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom

With the coming of fall, we tend toward stories and learning activities about apples and pumpkins. A study of Columbus or the Pilgrims naturally fits well during this time of year. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, there’s no shortage of learning to be done.

But there’s another kind of season that fits naturally into our homeschools: the seasons of life.

Life, Death, Sickness, Health, Richer or Poorer — they’re seasons we all walk through. As we certainly can’t ignore them, they provide learning opportunities, whether we are purposeful about them or not.

Life Happens

I remember hearing a mom lament her family’s past school year that had seen them walk through both serious and terminal illness with family members. She felt guilt over her children’s lack of academic instruction that year.

It gave me pause as I remembered the year my high school French teacher died. Monsieur had battled a long illness, and we students had had a long series of substitute teachers. Our French instruction was certainly lacking that year, but we got an education about life and death. We were able to catch up eventually with a permanent French instructor. And yet, we were changed in some ways beyond the textbooks.

As I listened to this mom recount her school year, I realized that these seasons are an opportunity to teach our children in profound, experiential ways–about our world, about social practices, about science and math in real life, and about God.


We learn about the world.

My children have welcomed baby siblings, said farewell to their grandmother, and walked alongside us through debt, illness, and financial recovery. They know that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Grandmas shouldn’t die of cancer, and families shouldn’t go broke. Likewise, they’ve also witnessed blessings in new babies and renewed financial stability.

They’ve seen good and they’ve seen sad. And yet, they get a chance to learn about these things with us in a safe environment where they know they are loved and cared for.

We learn about social practices.

The days of reading through etiquette books seem to be gone. Instead, we teach our children social mores through example rather than by a textbook or course. When we walk through difficult seasons, we have an opportunity to show our children what’s acceptable in each situation.

Families with new babies, illnesses, or other major life changes need our help. As we are helped or help others, our kids learn how to be compassionate and how to help their neighbors.


We learn about science and math in real life.

When we’ve welcomed new babies or struggled through illnesses, our kids get a first-hand look at how textbook science and math interact with the real world. We discuss medicines, dosages, xrays, and baby care.

They learn about hospitals and doctors — and they see that what they learn in our homeschools is helpful, often necessary knowledge in real life.

We learn about God.

As our family has walked through good times and sad, my husband and I have had ample opportunity to trust God with our future. Will we have more babies? Will Gramma beat cancer? Will this baby arrive healthy? Will we pay off the debt?

There are so many what-ifs in life, plenty of chances to put our faith into practice. As we learn, so do our kids. Trusting God amidst challenging times is a teachable moment — for us and for our children. Our kids learn to love and trust Him as we do.

Never let your schooling interrupt your education.

Life happens. And we learn from life. And if the math lesson doesn’t get done on a given day, that’s okay.

We’re still learning.

How has your family been intentional in discussing the seasons of life? How have you walked through the good and bad together?

About Jessica

Once a public high school teacher, Jessica now homeschools her six children, covering preschool through 10th grade. When she's not changing diapers, washing mountains of laundry, or chasing down the wayward math student who's steathily playing video games in the closet, she shares parenting and homekeeping tips on Life as MOM as well as "delicious ways to act your wage" at Good Cheap Eats.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this post- a lot of homeschooling is finding the time through all of life’s craziness

  2. Mrs. O says:

    Excellent post! Definitely have me all teary eyed! Thanks for putting this up, it really blessed me. That is why I am loving homeschooling – we get to do “life” together.
    Mrs. O’s latest post: Another Reason to Love the Library A New Kind of Audiobook

  3. Linda says:

    Thank you for this grace-filled post. The year I was pregnant, I think my second grader fell behind in almost every subject. He is bright and gifted, and I felt so guilty about it, like I was holding him back from his potential. This year, he is in 4th grade doing cyber school and has caught up. He is doing great. It is not easy to homeschool 2 kids with a toddler running around. But having our last baby gave the older boys the opportunity to learn all about pregnancy, to value life and little ones, to learn to put baby’s needs above their own at times and cooperate as a family to meet everyone’s needs, etc. We have learned to be flexible and do school when baby naps, and to scale back on outside activities… for a time… so we can have more quality time together and less time in the car. We have not figured it all out yet, but I hope the boys are learning real life skills that will help them be good husbands and fathers some day.

  4. Thanks for the great reminder. I agree, there is no reason to let school or a curriculum get in the way of life. There is a lot more to learning then “school”.

    To get a great balanced education we need to include more then just subjects but real life learning as you have described in this post.
    Trevor @ Tootlee’s latest post: Baby Proofing or Baby Training: Choosing the Best Option

  5. Beth says:

    I just loving reading what you have to say, I always feel blessed and lifted up by your words!! Thank you!

    Life is happening all around us these days :) My Stepmom who was like a mother to me and the closest Grandmother to our 2 boys, suddenly passed away a month ago today. I am also due with our 3rd ( a little girl) child next week.

    This is also our 1st year of homeschooling and I have to say that sometimes I wonder if we are “doing enough” through the trials and good times that our Lord has blessed us with.

    But our children’s education is more then text books and worksheets. I pray that the life lessons they have and will learn in the next year will be more beneficial to them then how many read alouds and science projects we accomplished.

    • Jessica says:

      Beth, thanks for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about your stepmom. That is a hard thing to go through. Two years later, it’s still hard. God bless you!

  6. Alicia says:

    When I first started homeschooling, I had an online friend who was homeschooling her son while fighting breast cancer. Many days, they would hang out in bed together and read because she didn’t have the strength to do more than that. She often shared how grateful she was to have that time with him and to be able to focus on so much more than “school” things. She recovered but she said it was such a blessing to be a homeschooler during that time. I’ve always been conscious of the many greater lessons life gives us and what matters most. :)
    Alicia’s latest post: Area students enjoy science conference at Gustavus Adolphus

  7. connie says:

    Certainly, my kiddos continued to learn all of last year although it looked nothing like what would be written in a lesson plan book. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37 and battling cancer through surgeries and chemotherapy was what I had to do. For my kids, they learned through card games, board games, lots of book reading, educational movies (including many recommended at Lifeasmom.com) and just spending time together. Additionally, my children saw the body of Christ working together…we had church friends coming to play with my children, provide meals, clean our home, drop off goody baskets and care for my kids while I was at chemo or recovering from surgery. The learning to allow others into our life and allowing them to serve us and bless us and pray for us, and for us to express thankfulness and gratefulness daily was beyond what is written in our lesson plan books. Certainly, one does not plan for cancer at age 37, with 3 young children (ages, 7, 5, 2) however I am forever thankful for what God has done, the learning was rich as we have journeyed through cancer together!

  8. I appreciated this post! What comes to my mind is how frustrating and overwhelming I found our first vegetable garden this year. Rather than being the learning experience I had imagined, the kids may have learned more about the wisdom in starting small and being committed to trying again.
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: Stash Buster Patchwork Tablecloth

  9. Renee says:

    Thanks for this Jessica. We are intentional almost everyday in talking about the seasons of life we are walking through and what we are learning, as children and adults in that process. All of life is about learning.

  10. Lindsay says:

    yes, thank you for this reminder – i had tears in my eyes as i read it… may we be faithful to make the most of each opportunity that makes its way into our lives….
    Lindsay’s latest post: do you happen to have a meatball shooter

  11. Kelly says:

    Yes, absolutely! LIFE is the perfect homeschooling curriculum.
    Kelly’s latest post: Super Simple Repurposed TrickorTreat Bag

  12. Heidi says:

    Thank you for this, it is a wonderful reminder! It is all too easy to loose focus while home educating but when the kiddos are all grown up they will be better benefited by walking through life’s seasons with us than by completing every lesson plan we wrote. Keep up the good work!

  13. Debbie says:

    Beautiful Post.. and so true… We had one of those years last year. With one failing grandfather on my husbands side and my mother had multiple surgeries, our year seemed to exist on the road to the hospital, nursing homes and doing all the extended elder care in between… We lost a grandfather and my mom gained her health back, but it was a long eventful and very educational year for us all!
    When I looked back at what we ” didn’t ” get accomplished academically I did wince I admit, but both children have risen to the occasion this year and are enjoying their studies once again and because ” life” is smooth right now we are able to enjoy somewhat of a routine!
    Yes, real life is the best homeschooling curriculum of all!
    Deb
    Debbie’s latest post: Chasing Fall on CAPE COD

  14. Sarah B.B. says:

    Oh, thank you so much for this post. We just went through two weeks of sitting bedside at my grandparent’s house as my grandfather passed away, and I have been beating myself up over how our schooling was set aside and whether my child’s education would suffer forever. There is nothing like guilt over parenting and homeschooling to make grief even more profound. This post was like a healing balm.
    Sarah B.B.’s latest post: Project Food Blog

    • Jessica says:

      Sarah, cyber hug coming your way. You gave your children an experience they would have missed had they been “away” at school. Saying goodbye is never easy. But, not being able to say goodbye is hard, too. Hope that makes sense.

  15. Jimmie says:

    Yep, BTDT. We had a 9 month span without consistent homeschool. Shoot, we didn’t really have a consistent HOME to school IN. That was so hard. And I battled the guilt over the lack of academics. But you know, God ordained all that time. And He taught us — including my daughter — so many lessons. Those lessons could not have been learned with “normal” homeschool days. So in all, I’m thankful for the experience.
    Jimmie’s latest post: Fresh Milk in My City

  16. Great post, Jessica. All of homeschooling last year was interwoven with my sister’s battle with pancreatic cancer. We lived 1,000 miles away, so I spent a lot of time on airplanes, various ones of my kids took trips with me, and all of them had to learn to function with me gone…either physically, or emotionally as I had seasons of sadness that made me different from my usual upbeat self.

    I was amazed at the goodness of God through it all. The kids learned a ton…enough academics to still be okay in that regard, and an immeasurable amount of life skills. They got better at time management, housekeeping, and cooking. They also got better at comforting those in need, at making memories to treasure, and at setting priorities.

    Life is often the best curriculum developer!

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