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Single Parent Homeschooling:Not Impossible! 6 Tips to Help You Do It
Not very long ago, a new movement caught on with lots of families. Out of frustration and lack of choices parents began homeschooling their own children.
Back then most people who did it where married couples; the husband went to work and the wife stayed home and taught the children. But now all that has changed. There are single parents who against the odds decided they wanted their children to have all the benefits of homeschooling too, so they sacrificed and made changes to their lifestyles. And they are making it happen successfully..
It's not a simple process, but with a few tips it's very do-able and worth every effort. So, if you're a single parent thinking about homeschooling, read on!
Tip #1: Help others; help yourself.
This is the most essential thing you can do to make your homeschooling program a success, especially if you are a single parent. It's definitely what worked for me and a whole lot of other people! Pooling your resources is probably the smartest thing you can do. You can share just about anything: housing, food, child care, transportation, etc. You can even share or barter services. Do you enjoy or know how to do something really well? Barter your services with other single parents that homeschool. Form a child care coop, grow a garden or start a family dining club. The possibilities are absolutely endless.
Tip #2: Work from home. Start your own business.
Homeschooling requires your undivided attention. You need to be able to plan lessons to a certain degree, even if you use an unschooling approach. You need to actually teach and assess your child's progress. The whole objective of homeschooling is to be involved in your child's learning process and that requires time and flexibility. Working from home provides you with this wonderful opportunity.
This is where many single parent homeschoolers have the most dilemmas, generally trying to schedule work around homeschooling which may or may not require child care. When I first began homeschooling, I took in a friend who needed a cheap place to stay so I offered her room and board in exchange for nanny services. It worked out well as I worked graveyard shift at the local hospital. Of course I was robbed of lots of rest in the beginning, but I was able to teach my son who was still in elementary school at the time.
In an effort to have more flexibility and freedom with my time, I became a freelance writer. It was slow going at first as I'd done lots of free work, just to get a presence in the field. I did finally get that break and I've been writing for pay every since. I'm not wealthy by any means, but I'm quite happy with life as I'm living it how I want, doing what fulfills me and that's accomplishing a lot in today's world.
There are many single parents out there who are doing the same thing. They are finding ways to take what fulfills them, turning it into a money-making business.
Tip #3: Be Resourceful. Keep costs low.
Homeschooling can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Single parenting can be difficult on a family financially, believe me I thoroughly understand this, which is why it is so imperative that you be very resourceful. Know where you can get the help you need, whatever it is. Plan out your costs as best as you can, particularly those that relate to your educational program because these can get away from you quickly, if you don't.
- Co-op with others, particularly other single parents that homeschool. Swap, barter, buy used, pool resources
- Use your library...a lot. Lots of free resources. Sometimes they have used book sales
- Take advantage of free curriculum resources. There's a whole bunch out there online
- Buy used curriculum. Lots of this is also online. Most of these companies are run by homeschoolers
- Have your high schooler take college courses. They are free to high-schoolers (depending on where you live) and the credit is applicable to college requirements.
- Cut down on extraneous costs: cable TV, expensive internet services (shop around), expensive cell phones and cell phone bills, control energy costs, video games, etc.
- Avoid pre-packaged curriculum. Build your own curriculum instead.
- Watch your food bill closely. Cook at home instead of eating out. Plan your meals, instead of going through the local fast food drive through
These are just a few of the things you can do to keep your costs down. There is a whole lot more to it!
Tip #4: Prevent burnout by taking good care of yourself.
Know when to slow down and take a break. Create fun, light days which can provide a brief although much needed respite from rigorous study. If you start feeling like your behind somewhat, allow a day or two for catching up. I called these our "catch up days." Encourage your child to work independently.
Design an educational program that promotes them to be independent thinkers and allows nutrient of special interests. You, the parent, provide the best materials and opportunities, while assuming the role of coach, guide, and facilitator of learning. Older children, family members, support group members can assist and supervise too.
Everybody should have a job in the house. Everyone helps, even the preschoolers. That's with clean-up, housekeeping, getting ready for dinner, pet care, breakfast, lunch, you name it. This is wonderful because it produces an atmosphere of the family working together as a team. We all had chores to do each day and then we'd switch.
Simplify your life. Get rid of excess clutter, get exercise daily, eat nutritiously and get adequate rest, especially if you are feeling tired!
The life of a single parent can be stressful. It is important to allow time for yourself. Spend time with friends, enjoy hobbies and nurture your faith tradition.
Tip #5: Choose or design a program that works well for the student and the family schedule.
Devote some time to finding out how your child learns best and then apply this to developing your home educational program. Some learn best by listening, others by doing hands-on projects and still some children learn visually. While it's a good idea to include opportunities for learning in a variety of ways, concentrate on their individual qualities and needs and you'll increase learning this way.
One of the most excellent benefits of homeschooling is that you have choices in educational approach. This allows you to individualize your child's curriculum to suit his or her learning strengths, interests and you can help them improve in weak areas.
As you set up your home education program, consider your work schedule and then plan schooling around this. You can successfully homeschool whether you work at home or full-time outside of the home. Keep in mind that homeschooling is not "public school at home." You have the freedom to schedule activities in a way that works best for your family.
How Homeschooled Kids Fare
Tip #6: Take it one day at a time.
There's really no need to rush homeschooling. If you are not completely sure about it, give it a little time as it is a serious commitment. The other thing you can do if you aren't quite ready for homeschooling is to consider afterschooling your child. Done on a part-time basis, afterschooling will give you experience as well as some of the benefits of homeschooling while you take advantage of school breaks, after-school time and the weekends. With this, you can gradually work your way towards full-time homeschooling.
Use the time to enrich your child's learning, help them to learn about something that isn't being taught at school, or provide remedial help to improve certain skills like mathematics, composition or reading.
Once you are actually a full-time homeschooling family, understand that it all doesn't have to be done in one day all of the time. Sticking to a regimented plan, with very little flexibility will burn you and your child completely out before you can get started. Take your time and try different scheduling tactics.
My kids seemed to enjoy concentrating on a couple of academic subjects for most of the day, leaving the last hour and a half in afternoons for P.E., cooking and the like. Mondays and Wednesdays were completely devoted to English and Science, for instance. Fridays were mostly for the fun subjects: art, gardening, unit studies, Shakespeare, etc.
Dr. Bruce Perry, Childhood Development on LIVING SMART with Patricia Gras
Further Help and Resources:
Single Parent Home Educators Association of America - Clearinghouse, blog and general support for single-parent home educators. Help getting started with homeschooling.