By Renée Gotcher
In our homeschool this week… I had planned to start getting us back on track after a recent family road trip to California, but God had other plans.
My youngest Elise developed an ear infection on the last day of our trip, and this Monday, seven days into her antibiotics treatment, she woke up with a head-to-toe rash. Talk about an unexpected twist! Instead of resuming a normal school day routine, I was rushing her to the doctor’s office, waiting (and waiting again) for an answer, and running into Walgreen’s for some additional medication and ointment. We spent an entire day managing this mini-crisis.
I will admit that I’m a bit of a worry wart. Any health scare involving my girls usually consumes me to the point that I get almost nothing else done until the situation is handled to my satisfaction. Even though the doctor surmised that she was allergic to penicillin (she’d been taking amoxicillin), which means discontinuing the antibiotics and taking Benadryl would have started easing the reaction, the rash was looking worse two days later.
I kept digging around online for answers, and I finally concluded that she probably had an “amoxicillin rash,” which is more of a side effect rather than a true allergic reaction. The good news was that it would go away on its own.The bad news was that I couldn’t do anything to help it — the reaction would just have to run its course. I’m a first-born, take-charge problem solver, so I have a really hard time with “wait and see” answers. I kept poking around online for possible remedies, trying things like oatmeal baths and topical analgesics to soothe the irritation, and cut out a few planned outings to simplify our week.
All this to say that even though I tried my best to keep “school” running, I couldn’t really focus.My priority each day turned to making Elise comfortable and rearranging our schedule to keep her home. I shelved plans to start our new science unit study, keeping the girls busy with core work like math and reading instead.
What’s working for us… In the midst of the chaos this week, I discovered that my older daughters are developing a healthy independence when it comes to their schoolwork. Both Audrey (11) and Claire (9) had projects in the works that they completed on their own, and Audrey — my self-directed student – even devised her own assignment by creating a lapbook about Colorado based on some books she had checked out from the library recently.
I also find that when any given week is going awry, our core skills curriculum makes it easy to stay on track. Both girls watched their Math-U-See DVD lessons without me and completed the accompanying worksheets without missing a beat. We usually do a “show me” step in which the girls “teach back” what they learned to me and/or their siblings, but this week we kept it simple. The girls also have language arts workbooks, with four pages of work per topic, that are perfect for self-directed days.
The book basket really came in handy this week. This is a bin where I rotate in books from the library that are relevant to current or upcoming unit studies, hands-on books (like seasonal crafts, drawing, etc.), and some fun reading. When there was a lull in the day, or I was simply just not ready to focus on leading a new lesson or discussion, we turned to the book basket. This will be especially helpful as we embark on a new unit study, because the girls will have read a book or two to familiarize themselves with the upcoming topic.
Another comfort during the chaos were the weekly co-op opportunities that we participate with. It’s such a relief to be able to take the girls to organized P.E., book club, AWANA, etc., and know that they’ll be able to enjoy focused learning and social fun that is being planned and executed by someone else. This is especially helpful when I’m in a cloudy state of mind and can’t effectively plan or execute anything new myself.
My favorite thing this week was… watching the movie “The Mysterious Islands,” a documentary in which Vision Forum Ministries President Doug Phillips leads a Christian team of scientists and investigators to the Galapagos Islands. Joined by his 16-year-old son Joshua and noted researchers like Dr. John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, Doug Phillips provides new insight and data that seeks to answer some key questions about one of the greatest controversies of our time, Darwinian evolution vs. creationism, with the backdrop of the visually stunning and mysterious Galapagos Islands.
This movie was a perfect “excite” opportunity to get the girls thinking about our upcoming unit study on creation science. The beauty of the islands and the mysteries of its unique animal inhabitants is captivating, keeping the girls engaged and interested throughout the film. The themes covered in the 90-minute span were easy enough to grasp and discuss afterward. I did have to pause a few times to make sure my 9-year-old Claire was comprehending some of the details, but the information was explained clearly enough that we could all understand.
The movie also sparked a few followup conversations throughout the week, and the girls and I are really looking forward to diving in to this topic in detail next week.
TGIF… Elise’s rash has finally subsided, and after a week of steady snow in the mountains, we’re packing up for a much-needed weekend retreat to my sister’s house near Beaver Creek to ski. I look forward to getting “back on track” next week… if possible!
— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She currently resides in Castle Rock, Colorado.