Caretaking as Part of Our Eclectic Curriculum

Long time, no post!

Four days after my last post I was getting that fateful call – “Your dad is in a hospital in Panama and he is in bad shape.”

Two days later, on December 21st, I was flying out of the country for the first time. Eleven days after that, Dad and I flew home to the States.

It’s been a month now and a schedule of sorts is beginning to fall into place.

Each time I’ve tried to adhere to a more rigid curriculum in homeschooling, it has exploded in my face. Perhaps it was merely the groundwork being laid for what was to come.

Eclectic homeschooling has never been more necessary and useful than it is now.

As I see it, becoming my dad’s caretaker has benefited our family in a number of ways. Not only does it help him, but it has encouraged me to make a few changes in Em’s daily schedule that benefits all of us. She is now involved in:

  • Coaching/encouraging/directing him to do his daily physical therapy exercises
  • Helping monitor his blood glucose levels (we have all learned to do this, even my needle-phobic husband)
  • Clean up after meals (she is responsible for loading the dishwasher)
  • Helping wash laundry (good living skills)
  • Reading aloud to him (language arts!)
  • Engaging him by watching science and nature documentaries together

Today, when a physical therapist from the home health agency was incorporating some new exercises into his daily regimen, we discussed muscle groups and looked them up in the Anatomy Coloring Book.

anatomy coloring book

The speech therapist has been by to work with him on his cognitive skills and suggested he would benefit from flash cards, so I pulled out some of the flash cards we have been working on. Despite having some delays and mistakes due to hitting his head twice, he was faster than her in the flash card competition.I held up the individual flash cards (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and read off each problem out loud since he can’t see well. At times they were neck and neck, but eventually, he pulled ahead. However, I can see that changing quickly in the weeks to come.

Involving her in his care teaches her valuable life skills as well. It teaches her empathy, patience, and persistence.

I have always believed that children can and should benefit from the presence of grandparents in their daily lives. Dad’s needs are pretty high right now, but that is forcing me to be quite organized and have well-planned days. Slowly I’m adding back in the homeschool basics, and opening ourselves to learning opportunities like the one with the physical therapist today.

I am determined not to let Em’s homeschooling be sacrificed or subsumed by my new role as Dad’s caretaker. As always, we continue to strive towards a decent balance.

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