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Single-Parent Homeschooling?


By Martha Robinson

Is single-parenting the life you envisioned for yourself just a few brief years ago? No, I don't think so! Now that you are single, can you begin or continue homeschooling? YES! Homeschooling as a solo-parent is a little more challenging, but isn't everything for single parents? You can do it! Here are some tips to help you.

Get your household in order. Begin by getting a handle on your finances. Manage income that you have for the children (child support or social security) to cover your living expenses. I recommend using financial software such as Quicken and on-line bill payment through your bank to keep your finances organized. The minute a bill comes in, I schedule it for payment via the bank and record it in Quicken. I run some of the reports to see where my money has gone and where to save. Balancing the checkbook takes just a few minutes using Quicken, and I always know how much money I have.

Make work work for you. Consider finding a job that will allow you to have some daytime hours with your children so that you can do activities with other homeschoolers. You can homeschool any time of the day or night that works for you, but park days, plays, clubs, and sports are often during "standard" work hours. Look for a position that has flexibility or even one that lets you work from home. These jobs DO exist, but you have to seek them!

Put the children to work inside the home. Prepare them for real life by teaching them real life tasks like cooking, laundry, cleaning, and yard care. All four of my children can handle these tasks, and my load around home is lighter.

Consider transportation. Having a reliable car is the number one concern for single parents who do not have family nearby. If you have no one to rely upon but yourself, you must have a vehicle that will be ready for you to go to work or take your children where they need to go.

Gain support of family and friends. Of course, it's not impossible to homeschool without your family and friends being supportive, but it is extremely difficult! Explain your reasoning to them, and try to gain allies. You will never get 100% agreement; however, if you have solid support from at least a few, you will be fine.

Find a homeschooling support group. A good group will accept single parents, encourage you, provide answers for your questions, and have something to interest your children. Visit several groups to find the best fit for your family.

Look into homeschooling methods and curricula. Even if you have been homeschooling for some time, your needs change when you become single. Do not be afraid to try programs that lighten your load as a teacher! For example, video-based or computer-based curricula might allow your children to do school while you are working. Co-ops and part-time schools meeting a couple days a week could fill in gaps in your teaching background. Using a "teacher advisory service" from a curriculum vendor such as Calvert or Alpha Omega moves the grading process to an "authority" who can take the heat when it is time for constructive criticism of your child's work.

Set your child's goals to do dual enrollment during high school. In Florida, students at tenth grade level with good grades may begin attending the community college free! They can pursue vocational certificates, a vocational degree, or an Associate of Arts, the credit from which can be transferred to any Florida university. My oldest has just finished his third semester and has a substantial headstart in life because of these college hours. Dual enrollment has made college affordable for my family.

Find positive role models for your children. Your child's first and best role model is YOU. Keep in mind that everything you do will be observed and stored as normal and positive behavior by your child. The same is true of other authority figures in your child's life, so it is crucial to find people who will guide your child in a positive direction. When you are looking for activities, consider ones that will make your child more confident, knowledgeable, and prepared for adult life. Find something that will become a passion for your child, because those who have a passionate interest in something rarely get into trouble. (Note: Activities - not video games or TV!) Look for a program that is well-supervised and has good adult leaders. Observe before joining, and note if the children in the program have positive behaviors like respectfulness for leaders and each other. Do not assume that because the program has a particular name or is associated with a church that you will find the role models you would like. Take the time to observe for yourself!

My family is very involved in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and I have been very pleased with what my children have learned there about leadership, self-discipline, respectfulness, and teamwork. We love this program! Additionally, we participate in church band and singing group, stamp collecting club, and swim team. My family also does extensive volunteer work. We have found many positive, generous people who are outstanding role models volunteering their time at many charitable organizations.

Concluding thoughts:

Single-homeschooling parents may feel overwhelmed from time-to-time (or even frequently!) Be encouraged! By devoting yourself to what is best for your children, you can help them grow into adults who can make a difference in this world. There is no greater reward for a parent than to see her child become an adult with honesty, courage, faith, and confidence to lead others. You have the job as single parent, whether you wanted it or not, so make it work to your children's benefit. Make decisions, take action, and move into your positive future. As a single homeschooling parent, the burden is heavy, but the reward is sweet. Resources Related to This Article's Single Parent Homeschooling Message Board's Support Editorials Page
Information to help you on your homeschooling journey's Testimonies Section
Uplifting stories by people who have traveled the homeschooling road.