Janet Gurney faced every parent’s worst nightmare when her son, Zach, was diagnosed with cancer at 8 years old. For three and a half years, their lives consisted of doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments, which were in Ohio, a far drive from their Kentucky home. The frequent appointments and public school policies in their area made it impossible for Zach to attend school. In the beginning, Zach was tutored by teachers from his school at home two times per week and Janet taught him the other three days.

Eventually, Janet made the decision to switch to traditional homeschooling. At this time, Zach was finished with treatments and in recovery, but a compromised immune system and other health issues that came as side effects of treatment meant he couldn’t return to public school. Traditional school presented too many risks, and homebound tutoring was becoming frustrating. Since Janet was already teaching Zach three days a week, she knew she could teach him five days a week and in all subjects. The Gurney family discovered Bridgeway Academy through a family friend and enrolled in the Total Care Textbook program.

“The textbook program is great. Zach can do schoolwork in the car on the way to follow-up appointments. We love the flexibility of the program and how it works around our schedule,” says Janet. “It has really worked for us. And the advisor support is great too. Angela is always there and ready to help us.”

Janet admitted that she was intimidated at first by the idea of homeschooling, but she’s ended up liking it so much, and Zach has done so well with it, that she enrolled her granddaughter with Bridgeway and now homeschools her too!

When asked what advice she’d give families who are thinking about homeschooling, Janet shared five tips:

  • If you’re overwhelmed, your kid will be overwhelmed. Try to stay calm so your child doesn’t feed off of that and become overwhelmed too.
  • You don’t have to stick to what the calendar or guides say to do each day. Do what works for you. If doing each subject every day works for you, stick with that. If it’s better for your child to focus on just one subject per day, do that! Remember to take your time, there’s no hurry. Take as much time as you need to cover a topic…the schedule is flexible.
  • Know that the advisor is there for you and will help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • If you have more than one child, don’t get them started on the school day at the same time. Get one kid set up and going on work, then while they are working independently, get the other child started.
  • Sign up for Elephango! It’s a great program. I love how it recommends additional lessons based on what the kids are doing. The kids love it too. They’ll often keep going on other lessons and find things that interest them, without me telling them to.

We are so thankful that Zach is in remission and ready to tackle high school. We are excited to have the Gurneys as part of the Bridgeway Academy family and thank them for sharing a bit of their story with us.

At Bridgeway, we know that when faced with a health/medical issue, there’s a lot to worry and think about. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and like you can’t possibly add one more thing, like homeschooling, to your day. But homeschooling might be exactly what you need. Homeschooling can actually cut down on stress and worry because it offers the peace of mind and safety of knowing your child is in an environment you can control, with limited exposure to germs. Plus, the flexibility of homeschooling allows you to create a schedule that works for you.

We are here to help support you and ease the stress that you may associate with homeschooling as much as we can, so you can focus on bigger things: your child. If you’re facing this situation and are unsure what to do, call us. We’re here for you.