A while back I ran across a facebook post that shared the frustrations of a full-time working, single parent. She is completely frustrated with her son’s school and the options (or lack of options) that exist for him and deeply feels she could do a better job bringing him home. She raised the question, to all of her homeschooling Facebook friends: Is it possible to be (a) a single parent, (b) full-time working parent and (c) a homeschooling parent? I asked if I could write about this question as I am sure several folks may find themselves faced with the same exact question. So after many months (sorry this post has taken so long to write) I finally have some thoughts about the matter to throw into the collective homeschooling ring!
This is a hard question. Really hard. And so my heart truly does go out to anyone who finds themselves confronted with this question.
For starters, let me say right up front that home schooling as a single-full time working parent is not impossible. There are several people that do this and do it well. If you are reading this and are faced with the question then the main question you have to ask is rather or not this is something that is doable for your ‘right-now’ situation.
So I am not going to say whether or not I think it can or cannot be done–that isn’t helpful–it can be done. Rather, I wish to share some key questions that you should ask and answer to help you determine whether or not this is a viable option for you to pursue at this time in your life.
Ok…here we go:
Question #1: Have You Exhausted All Other Options?
I know…you probably are shocked that I am asking this question, but I am. Deciding to pull your child out of school to homeschool is a very radical decision. Making that choice when you work full time and are a single parent is…well it is a much harder decision to make. Most folks that I run into that are thinking about making the move are doing so because they are responding to a problem that exist within the school. For example, the gifted child may not be getting challenged, the school environment may conflict heavily with family values, learning disabilities may not be strengthen well at the school, the list is endless. Whatever the concerns are, my suggestion is to try and first work the problem out where the child is (especially if it is in the middle of the year). This will allow you a chance to get yourself organized. I also would encourage you to research other schools and programs as well that might be a better fit. If you have done this and still want to pursue homeschooling then go on to the next question.
Question #2: Do You Like Your Child(ren)?
Some people honestly get offended when I ask this question. So let me say upfront, I do not mean to offend you with this question I just intend to challenge you with it. I am not asking if you love your children. Of course you do. The question is, do you like your children–do you enjoy them? Do you enjoy spending countless hours with them? This is a key question and one that you need to be completely honest about, without any shame. I know several parents who are honest with the fact that they could not be around their children for long stretches of time. That is their truth. What is yours?
Question #3: Do You Have Committed Community?
Everyone has community. This question is asking do you have people in your community (your village) that are committed to you and your children as you homeschool them. I am a firm believer in community–regardless if you are a single parent or not, homeschooling parent or not. But I believe it would become increasingly more necessary to have a strong community when homeschooling as a single parent. As you are researching curriculums and activities for the kids, be sure to be searching for supportive communities. Also, be open and honest with family and friends with what you may need and accept all the help you can get!
Question #4: Do You Have Enough Energy Units?
My big sister gave me some good advice that I now use whenever I am thinking about doing a project or work or anything and that is to ‘count my energy units’ or ‘count the cost’. Most times I am excited to take on another project but oftentimes, when I am honest with myself, I do not have what it will take to do it well. So I would encourage you to really count those energy units–be clear about what you can sacrifice and what you cannot. Knowing this will help in the long run.
Ways To Make It Happen:
There are a variety of ways to make home schooling as a single parent happen. My best advise is start searching the web and learn how others in the same boat are doing it. Also, connect with local homeschooling groups and ask if there is anyone within the group that is a single-parent. Try to connect with that person for advice. I find the homeschool community at large to be very supportive. So reach out and have the conversation.
Take your time and allow yourself to think about your situation. Do not compare yourself or your child with anyone else. Stay on your journey and allow yourself to be 100% open and honest and then make decisions from that place. Everything will beautifully fall right into place!
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Stay Encouraged & Be Blessed!