Home Schooling in Adversity

by Lori Crank

From Volume 3 Issue 5 of Unless the Lord ... Magazine


As home schoolers, we start each school year full of expectations. We hope to complete a certain amount of curriculum and that our children will have achieved a new proficiency in their weakest subjects. Sometimes, as we move through the school year, we realize that God has a completely different agenda for the family.

This is the way our school year began in 1989. Samuel was a junior in high school, Daniel and Heidi were freshman, and Joshua was in seventh grade. They were pretty self-sufficient in their schooling but still required monitoring throughout the day to stay on track.

In January, God changed the direction of our schooling. Davidís mother had cancer. For the three years prior to this, it had been kept under control with medication. At this time the cancer began spreading and she didnít have long to live.

Davidís dad was working contract jobs in the oil and pipeline industry and so was able to be at home some of the time. The time that he was not able to be there, taking her to appointments and meeting her everyday needs fell to me. Sometimes it meant as little as a long phone conversation, at other times it was an early morning to late at night hospital stay.

Most of the time our children remained at home to hold down the fort, but there were times that they came with me. I could have felt tempted to send them to school. This was a critical time for Samuel. He needed to be preparing for college entrance exams and college. Instead he was helping to keep our household running. During this time, all four children became proficient in caring for the house. They also became more accountable for the use of their time. Whether at home or with me, they were learning a very important life skill: service.

My dad came down to be with us more often and this was a help, but could also cause less to get done as he liked to talk. This was a time for all of us to get to know him better. Little did we know that he would be gone two years later.

God used the illness and death of Davidís mother to prepare us for a longer time of home schooling in adversity to come later. After Davidís mother died, her mother, Mammie, came to live with us for seven years until her death. She also had cancer and was really grieving for her only daughter.

Since Mammie lived in our house, the children learned to serve daily. Samuel would play the guitar for her, Daniel and Joshua would go in to have little chats with her, and Heidi became her friend. Again I could have felt that the children were not getting enough education, but I could see growth in other areas of their lives that would not have been there if I had sent them to school away from home.

We concentrated on the essentials in schooling. We found curriculum that would allow them to be independent in their learning. David did grammar, government and geography with all four at the same time. He also did early morning Bible studies with them. This was a big help for me when we added the two little girls to our family.

My pregnancies were not easy and I needed the children to help with the house and all the other things that needed to be done. After each girl came, the older children helped with the babyís care as well as with Mammieís needs. They were learning the beginning rudiments of parenting. They also learned how selfish we can all be when we have to give up our time to help another.

There were times that one school year blended in with the next. There were years when they did school all year just to get finished. Joshua had to finish calculus the summer after his graduation from high school.

For us, home schooling in adversity has become the norm. We have learned to simplify and to school in the off times. The curriculum has to be simple and not require a lot of work on my part. We utilize the library and read a lot of books together. The extra things that they have missed have been made up in other ways. Neither the older children nor the little girls have suffered for their loss of schooling time. They have gained an understanding of life that could not have been learned from books. I have no regrets for continuing to homeschool them even in adversity. V