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How to Homeschool When You’re Sick (or You Just Don’t Feel Like It)

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As homeschool parents, we all have those days when we just don’t feel like teaching – we’re sick, we’ve been up all night with a teething infant, we have a new baby in the house, or we’re recovering from an illness or surgery that was especially energy draining. 

This list could go on and on, because, well, while we’re teaching we’re also Mom. We don’t punch a clock or start at a given time, we don’t magically become that teacher that’s full of energy and excitement ready to teach another day at the stroke of 8 a.m. It doesn’t happen like that for us, does it? Boy, do we wish it did!

However, knowing how to homeschool when you’re sick or you don’t feel well can keep things moving in the right direction. There are some ways you can relax a little and take a backseat and your children can still learn. 

How to Homeschool When You’re Sick With Little Kids

Planning ahead

Don’t wait until you feel like a train wreck before trying to figure out what to do if you’re sick. Have some kind of idea of what your children will do while you’re down.

Here are some things you can do to plan ahead to help you homeschool when you’re sick…

  • Keep some multi-subject workbooks or fun activity books handy. These can be expensive, so I grab these when I can find them on sale, at yard sales, Goodwill, or second hand book stores.
  • Store some simple art supplies — colored pencils, crayons, washable markers, chalk, construction paper or art paper. These are easy cleanup, leave off the paint for sick days. You know that’s always a big mess.
  • Check for free worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are lots!
  • Hide special books for special times. Yes, I hide books from my kids — sticker books, coloring books, new picture books I know they’ll love — and when the world turns upside down, I bring those puppies out to play. I know I’ll get a little rest if my babies’ minds are busy.

How to Homeschool When You’re Sick With Older Kids

We recently used several of these methods while recovering from the virus that shall not be named, but it starts with a “C”. Most of my family recovered quickly, but it left several of us feeling zapped and we didn’t really feel like doing homeschool lessons.

Documentaries, Educational Channels, & YouTube

Utilizing what you’re already paying for can come in handy when you need to know how to homeschool when you’re sick.

Sometimes, you can find educational programming on your local public broadcasting channels during the day. These cover many different age groups. You may find free resources on their website to accompany the episode you’re watching. 

National Geographic, Travel Channel, Science Channel, and the History Channel all have great programming during the day for science or history lessons. Watch with your children and jot down questions for review at the end of the program. If you have the ability, pause the program and ask questions as you go along.

YouTube has some wonderful learning resources. You can visit the following websites to find lists of YouTube Channels. I strongly suggest before letting your child watch any of these videos you watch them first to make sure they align with your family’s values. I also suggest you watch with your child, you never know what could pop up in the sidebar or in the commercials.

Preschool and Kindergarten 

We Are Teachers

Common Sense Media


Lifewire Tech for Humans

K12 Learning Liftoff

Middle Grades

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

The Tech Edvocate

High School

VHS Learning

Stepping Blocks

Read-Alouds, Reports, & Drawings

Read-alouds can be a magnificent learning tool to help you homeschool when you’re sick or just don’t feel like “teaching.”

My kids have always liked to have me read to them. Unless my voice is affected, reading doesn’t take too much out of me as long as the kids aren’t being too loud. So, it’s something easy to do while I’m sick or when I just have a case of the blahs and it still encourages learning. And, if I’m already sitting and resting, reading doesn’t really require too much more effort.

While I read, the kids either play quietly or draw. After we read for a little while, I have the kids draw a picture of a scene, item, or animal from the story we’re reading.

My older children write a report about what we’ve read for the day. It’s nothing too intensive, just favorite parts of the story, things they found interesting, or something they didn’t know.

You could have your child write or tell you how they think they’d feel or what they’d do if they were in the same situation as the main character.

If you’ve never done read-alouds with your kids and aren’t sure how to go about it, read Tips for a Successful Read-Aloud.

Movies Based on Actual Events or a Specific Time

Movies based on actual events are a great way to learn with your family while doing homeschool when you’re sick.

I’m partial to movies with an element of history in them. I love old movies or shows that tell about life during pioneer days. Little House on the Prairie is a favorite. I also really like Gunsmoke, anything pertaining to the Civil War, or the Old West.

Even though some of them may be fictional, the time frame wasn’t and most of the settings are fairly accurate. 

We take some time to look online for different things we want to know more about from the story. It could be music from that time period, a medical condition, or other stories about what life was like during the period.

Lego Stories

Have you been studying something particularly interesting in science or history?

Do your kiddos love Legos?

You can easily combine the two with Lego stories. Have them set up a scene or make a Lego model of something you’ve been studying.

Record them on your cellphone and take pictures. There’s no reason you can’t make it memorable even if you don’t feel good.

Try Unschooling

If you’ve never unschooled your kids, there’s no better time than when you’re ailing.

My kids have done this many times. With access to the internet and our home library, my children have a wealth of knowledge on any number of topics at their fingertips.

I have them decide on a topic and we read books, watch YouTube videos, draw pictures, and we have some very interesting conversations about their topics.

My kids have covered motorcycles, beavers, butterflies, weapons used in the World Wars, pioneer life, Venus Fly Traps, tigers, monkeys, coding, and lots of other topics.

I like that it gives them the opportunity to explore their own interests and they like the freedom.

Keep up with all your unschooling adventures by documenting them in the Unschool Journal, it’s FREE. CLICK HERE to get your Unschooling Journal.

And that’s what homeschooling is all about, isn’t it? Having the freedom to teach our children as we see fit.

Of course, all these ideas are great, but only if you’re functional while you’re sick. If you just aren’t up to it, take the day off. You can make it up later, or not, that’s where that freedom comes in again.

We all need help sometimes. If you have more ideas on how to homeschool when you’re sick, please leave them in the comments and help other homeschool parents out.

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