Are You Homeschooling with Bipolar Disorder?
My family and I have chosen a bit of a different path. We homeschool our three girls, ages 6, 9, and 10. We did not always homeschool, but now we are homeschooling with bipolar disorder. The older two started out in our local public school system. It wasn’t until a series of events forced me to leave my job that we were able to begin this lifestyle.
It is hard to believe that was four years ago. And yet, here we are.
What Led To My Homeschooling Our Girls
The core of that series of events… I developed Bipolar Disorder after my youngest daughter was born. It changed me fundamentally and made holding a job impossible.
I know what you’re thinking. I can’t work but I homeschool? Yes. Many people have asked how I do it. Today was one of those days I found myself asking that same question.. Honestly, I have to give a lot of the credit to my kids.
What Do They Study?
Early on we put together a system that works for us, but much of it is dependent on them. We do a lot of what I call our independent work. It covers our core subjects: math, reading, Bible, writing, spelling, and grammar. They are responsible to do these topics daily. I have chosen programs or workbooks that allow them to follow the directions and do the work with little intervention from me. I am available to answer questions and help with new ideas, but the material we have does not require much preparation or lecture on my part.
Every morning one of the girls or I write the material we will be covering for the day on our white board and each puts their initial next to a topic as they finish it with someone finally crossing it out entirely.
Then, depending on how things are going, we add in science, history, cultural studies, and a historically based read-aloud. We also do field trips when possible and a weekly homeschool cooperative where the girls take art, music, and other creative classes.
Managing My Mental Health and Homeschooling
The hardest part for me? Well, a lot of it is a challenge really. My Bipolar is “nice” enough to also bring along a lot of anxiety. There are many days being around people is very, very hard. Co-op is hard. Field trips are hard. Field trips sometimes get canceled for us. There is just no way around it, but I push myself. Really, really hard. I know not to schedule a lot during a week as I will only end up tapped out and unable to fulfill some of our commitments.
My Children Are Socialized
But please, don’t think that my girls never get out. They do. We have built much into our system to make sure they are well served. My husband takes the girls to activities at our church two evenings a week. Right now my most “social” daughter is in a play.
We have play practice three times a week. I take her most of the time and then use the gym at the same location to run while she learns her songs and dances. Running gives me the opportunity to don my headphones and work out the thoughts in my mind on the treadmill while she gets the creative outlet she enjoys.
It is never dull around here. I captured a moment this morning to show my mom all the fun we were having. These three pictures were of things going on simultaneously.
Homeschooling with a Mental Illness Is Possible!
Just like anything, there is a lot of balance required when life is full of homeschooling. This is even more true as I live with Bipolar Disorder. The answer is rarely straightforward and there is a great deal of hunting and pecking to find it, but with time, it comes. And along the way everybody learns to work together.
Publisher’s Note: For more information about homeschooling, check your state’s education website or here for general info.
For information on living with bipolar disorder this article might help, but always talk to your doctor first.