Homeschooling Alone as a Single Parent
by Ann Zeise
> I wish that I could stay at home and teach
> her myself but I’m a single parent and I have to work.
There is really no reason that homeschooling can’t be done completely on weekends and holidays. Do the math…
Many states have some such day and/or hours per year sort of requirement that is close to 1000 hours a year.
OK — so there are 52 weekends each year, and you and your child are probably awake, say, 14 hours a day, give or take. That’s 14 x 2 x 52 or 1456 waking hours in a year’s worth of weekends.
Now, if you can reasonably expect to do a little “educational” stuff on workday nights, like reading books together, playing a board game, watching some educational tv, doing something like attending a scout meeting or 4-H club, then you can EASILY homeschool your child as a working single parent.
Think of yourself more as a business manager or coach as that is how homeschooling works best anyways. Don’t feel you have to act or behave like a school teacher. School teachers behave the way they do because they have 24-32 kids in front of them. They have no choice. A manager or coach has one to just a handful of people to manage. They explain what needs to be done, makes sure the “team” has the proper training and tools, and then lets them get on with their job.
Do delegate some of the educational responsibilities. The child should agree to do some things on her own when you aren’t around. They should agree to read, do some “projects” in the way of art or building models and such. If your child is young, the babysitter can be expected to encourage creative activities and not plop your child in front of a tv all day. If the babysitter speaks another language, have her teach your child her language. They can bake and garden together; whatever. A teen should be expected to do some housework and have dinner ready when you get home from work.
On weekends I know you need your time to get so many chores done you don’t think homeschooling would be possible, but the actual time you spend “instructing” can be fit into the normal flow of your household. Spend a little time explaining a new concept, and then let your child work on a few problems while you work on your own projects. Keep touching base.
Instead of hiring a tutor, hire a maid and then you get to get rid of the onerous chores and get to do just the “fun stuff.” I know you are thinking I’m nuts, but I was a single working parent at one point, and I did just this. I hired another single mom, who was glad for the extra money, to come in for about 3 hours a week, clean the bathroom, the floors and the kitchen. It gave me so much more time to spend with my daughter it was worth it!
“Unschool” — incorporate learning into everything you do. If you have decided that this Saturday you are going to work on your car, then that’s the day you teach “basic auto mechanics” to your kid. If it’s your shopping day, have your child help to plan nutritious meals, shop for the best buys (explaining what parts of the plant or animal the food comes from), and later on, help cook. (That covers health science, economics, biology, and the physics of cooking — even handwriting if they wrote out the list!)
You don’t have to cover ALL the subjects every day yourself! My mother has such lovely handwriting I delegated handwriting to her. We used to visit with her about once a month, and so she would teach Scott a few more lovely “Palmer method” letters. (Scott’s older now, so those lessons aren’t the focus anymore, but Mom does like to tell him WWII stories and he’s willing to listen to those now.)
Delegate some instruction to the scout leader, to the soccer coach, to the Sunday school teacher, to the children’s theater director, to the piano teacher. Even your vet can teach your kid about the life cycle of fleas!
So, find a good sitter, enlist relatives and friends to instruct your child occasionally on whatever it is they like best, do just a little each night, “unschool” on the weekends, encourage your child to read a lot and have materials around for ‘projects,’ and, yes, you can homeschool — and relatively cheaply, too.
Check out Working & Single Parents for essays by others about the concerns of single parents and those living on limited incomes.