Can it be done?
But I won’t lie to you, either. Homeschooling as a single parent is rough. I’ve met several people who are quite surprised that I manage to work and still homeschool my children. But homeschooling can be a huge advantage to the single parent. Here’s a few examples of ways in which homeschooling can be better than public school when you’re a single parent:
- No more time off for conferences. You don’t have to take time off to go fill out registration papers, attend conferences and other school related activities that only seem to take place during the day.
- More quality time with learning. My kids have ADHD, so there would be nights when they were in public school where I spent 3-4 hours helping with homework. I still spend 3-4 hours a day, minimum, helping my kids with schoolwork. But it’s not at the end of a long day at school, and after a long day at work for me, so that we’re all tired and frustrated with each other and the work. They actually learn now, because we’re all more relaxed and not feeling so pressured because it has to be done tonight so it can be turned in tomorrow.
- No more conflicted learning. I was taught to do multiplication a specific way. It’s what I know, and it works. When my oldest began learning multiplication at school, he was taught something totally different – and of course, since he’d just learned it that day, he couldn’t explain it to me! I didn’t understand it, and couldn’t reach the teacher to get clarification, so I ultimately taught him my way. It got the job done, but when the teacher wanted to see his work done the way she’d taught, he couldn’t do it that way. By homeschooling him now, I can teach him the way I understand. Or, we can learn a new method – together, from the same source, so that the playing field is level and we both have the same information. It makes things so much less stressful this way, and he’s no longer confused because two people are telling him two different ways of doing the same thing.
- A flexible schedule. Your child won’t go to school from 7:45 am to 3:30 pm every Monday through Friday anymore (or whatever your school’s schedule is). Instead, your child can go to school from 4 pm to 8 pm every weeknight, or 6 pm to 8 pm Mon through Friday, and 8 am to noon on Saturdays. Or maybe you work second shift, and will still do school during the day. Or you have a rotating shift, and you’ll do days one week, evenings the next. Whatever works for your family will work for homeschooling. And if you’re feeling extra tired tonight, or one lesson happened to take longer than you expected, and you don’t get all your work done – that’s okay! You aren’t under the pressure to hurry up and get it done tonight because it’s due tomorrow.
- Babysitting/daycare costs. If your child(ren) have already been in school, depending on their age, you may have to pay a babysitter or daycare to care for them while you’re working. This may simply be an increase in a cost you’re already paying for (maybe you’re already paying for before or after school care), or it may be a whole new expense. You might be able to avoid this if you have family or friends who can watch your child, if your child is old enough to stay home alone (both legally and in terms of maturity), or if you can/do work from home.
- Objections from the other parent. If you have a conflicted relationship with your child’s other parent, you’re almost guaranteed that he/she will argue with you. Even if you have an otherwise good relationship with your ex, they might have objections. In some cases, they will object so strongly, they will go to court and ask the judge to order that you cannot homeschool. The best way to avoid this is to get all your ducks in a row before you inform the other parent that you’d like to homeschool. Make a list of your reasons as to why you think this is best for your child, gather information on the curriculum you’d use, and show how you will make this work. Try to think of all the arguments they might make against it, and come up with counter arguments.
- Family/friends with no faith in you. Homeschooling is becoming more common, but it’s still not really the norm. When your friends and family hear that you plan to homeschool, many might think that you can’t do it. They’ll picture a Little House On the Prairie kind of school, and think that the only way you could possibly effectively homeschool is to quit your job and be at home full time. Or they might just be real jerks who simply don’t think that you, personally, are smart/capable enough to actually teach your children. The only way past this is to just do it and prove them wrong. Once they see that you are doing it, and your children are learning, they’ll have to admit they were wrong, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you proved them wrong.
- Use the babysitter. If your child stays with a babysitter, daycare, or relative while you work, see if you can involve them in your homeschooling. You can do the teaching when you are home with your child, then send a few worksheets or other learning items that the caregiver can do with your child, or supervise while your child works on it. They can also help with review.
- Flexible work schedule. If your job/employer allows it, a flexible work schedule can be helpful. This can include telecommuting some of the time, working shorter hours during the week and a few hours on the weekend, or changing shifts.
- Work from home. Working from home can be really helpful. This gives you the freedom to work whenever you need to – including after the kids are in bed, if necessary. I work from home, and my career allows me to work even in short spurts while the kids work on a single task.
- Cooking. Cooking dinner and baking can help with both reading and math skills. Even if you’re stuck preparing a box of Hamburger Helper for dinner, your child can read you the instructions off the back of the box. If you need to prepare two boxes to feed the whole crew, your child can use math to double the ingredient amounts and tell you how much to add. The same applies to mixing up some chocolate chip cookie dough. There’s also setting the timer, finding the right temperatures and figuring out when to stir pots on the stove – these can help with science.
- Combining subjects. Look for ways to combine two or more subjects. For example, reading about a historical event or figure can combine reading and history. Reading an astronomy book can combine reading and science. Drawing and labeling a map of the United States could combine geography, writing, and art. Playing music and discussing it while working on other subjects can combine music with any subject.
- Admit your own shortcomings. There are probably some areas where you excel, and some where you struggle. Don’t force yourself to try to teach those areas where you struggle. Ask friends or family who excel in that particular area if they would help out. Aside from freeing you from the stress, it will be easier on your child, and it will also allow that friend or relative to see first had the progress your child is making.