Maybe the cold and flu season has already struck your home this year – the dull, throbbing ache in your throat, the runny nose, the fever that never quite goes away. How do you cope? Does your homeschool have “sick days,” or do you soldier on despite illnesses?

A number of area homeschool moms have different policies (how official that sounds!) regarding sicknesses and homeschooling. They varied from one extreme (“unless you can prove a life-threatening emergency, we still have school!”) to the other (“any excuse to take a day off!”).

Here are a list of recommended steps to cope with homeschooling amid all those coughs and colds:

  • See how bad the symptoms really are.

If your child is complaining only of the sniffles, it probably won’t warrant an entire school day off. If they’re hit with an especially bad case of flu, however, and really can do nothing except lie in bed, that’s a different matter.

One homeschool mom has a sick rule: school only stops in the cases of vomiting, strep throat, bronchitis, or a broken limb. Other homeschoolers will do a little work even with bronchitis or strep throat, but they may stop classes sooner or skip some of the more difficult subjects.

  • Tailor the intensity of the curriculum.

So maybe you have to postpone an intricate lab assignment or delay that 3-D modeling project, but most homeschool moms agree that you can work a few sums or complete a few English assignments when you have a cold.

  • Remind the students of public/private school scenarios.

If the students were in public school or private school, they certainly wouldn’t have the option to do homework in their pajamas. The cold and flu season can be a great time to bring out steaming hot drinks, bowls of chicken soup, and other such delicacies. As a last resort, you can always send your sick student to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket while they read a textbook.

  • Turn off the electronics.

“If you’re too sick for schoolwork, you must be too sick for electronics!” one homeschool mom says. In her experience, that tends to cure most illnesses. 🙂

  • Bring out the books.

Perhaps as a nice corollary to the electronics ban, now may be a good time for some light reading. Let your children catch up on some literature that’s appropriate to their age level – something that doesn’t require too much brain activity. When they’re better, they can write you a report on what they read.

  • Watch only “educational” TV.

Perhaps some electronics can be allowed, depending on the degree of sickness. With all the documentaries and academic films out there, there’s something to fit nearly every homeschool. Some suggestions (parental discretion is always advised!):

    • Mythbusters
    • Wild Kratts (PBS Kids)
    • National Geographic
    • Magic School Bus episodes
    • Nest Family videos (available at the MPE Library)
    • Dear America (PBS)
    • How It’s Made
    • Liberty’s Kids
    • NOVA (PBS)
    • Veggie Tales (also available at the MPE Library)
  • Remind the students of future “when-you-have-a-job” scenarios.

It’s never too early to drop a gentle reminder to your students that the world keeps going, even when they have colds. Once they’re all grown up and have their own jobs – whatever that job may be – they will have to balance work with recovery. Maybe they can telecommute if their jobs allow, or take sick leave during the days they’re most sick (and infectious) and then make up the lost time afterward.

What other tips and techniques would you recommend for homeschools during cold and flu season? Let us know in the comments!