Over the past twenty years, there has been a general increase worldwide in children living in single parent homes. Single parenting has become an accepted fact in the United States and the trend is common in numerous other countries. In 2006, 12.9 million U.S. families were single-parent households. According to the 2010 U.S. census, 27% of children lived with just one parent. Current statistics estimate there are upwards of 13.6 million single parents raising over 21 million children in the U.S. For single parents, male or female, the challenge lies in figuring out how to continue to fulfill relevant parental roles while managing to work, pay bills and otherwise care for a family.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Today we see all sorts of single parent families: headed by mothers, headed by fathers, headed by a grandparent raising their children…..the single parent may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of juggling caring for the children, maintaining a job and keeping up with the bills and household chores. Single parent families deal with many pressures and potential problem areas that the nuclear family does not have to face.”
In these challenging times, parenting is a difficult task. Add the idea of “single parenting” to the equation and the task sometimes seems overwhelming. Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a happy, successful person and a large part of making that happen is related to the child’s education. Although children growing up in single parent households sometimes have disadvantages as compared to children coming from two-parent homes, this does not mean they can’t do well in school. Single parents can positively guide their children’s education to give them a head start for the future. One direction this guidance can take is homeschooling.
Homeschooling is a fulltime task even with two parents contributing to the effort. Being a working parent is not an easy job. Being a single working parent who homeschools may sound like an impossible feat, but with perseverance and a strong support network, it can be done.
Generally speaking, single-parent homeschooling is managed by a parent who may be the only income source for the family. The parent often works fulltime outside the home but may be self-employed and working at home at the same time they are homeschooling their children. If you are one of these parents, read on – you are not alone. You have more control over your life than you might imagine.
Be Creative – If you are working fulltime outside the home, schedule homeschooling sessions in the evenings and on the weekends. If your state allows dual enrollment in public school and homeschooling, find out how many days a week your child must legally attend school and then arrange to supplement public school attendance with homeschooling. Remember – always create your homeschool curriculum and schedule in coordination with your state’s homeschooling regulations.
Be Flexible – One of the advantages of homeschooling is that, if designed properly, it can provide an atmosphere of open learning. Instruction hours can be arranged around your work schedule, whether you are working out of your home or at an outside job. While you are working, you may be able to hire a part-time tutor who could oversee independent study opportunities for your children. Some hired babysitters may be willing to help your children with their studies during the day. If you work from home, be sure to inform your clients and customers that there are certain hours of the day you are homeschooling your children and that you will not be available for work during those hours. Planning ahead will allow you to make the best use of the time you have available for homeschooling.
Dual Enrollment – As a concept, “dual enrollment” allows students of any age to attend public school part-time and homeschool part time. For example, if a single parent works outside the home from 8AM to 5PM, older children might be able to attend a dual enrollment public school program in the morning and then work on homeschool projects or classes in the afternoon. Check with your local school district to find out whether dual enrollment options are available in your area.
Create a Support Network – According to the Home Educator’s Family Times, “single-parent homeschool support networks can include grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, other homeschoolers from a church or religious organization, homeschool supplemental programs, traditional homeschool support groups, and volunteer work.” Find an online homeschooling community. Check around for homeschool support groups and stay informed about what they are doing or what they may be able to offer. Be sure to inform your family and friends about your homeschool and find out whether they may be willing or able to assist you with daycare, tutoring or chaperoning your kids during extra-curricular and educational activities.
Give Yourself a Break – If you are exhausted and impatient, your children and your home environment will suffer. On those mornings when you feel you just can’t handle your schedule without collapsing, take a day off with your children. Most states require about 180 days of full-time school per year. The other 185 days belong to you – use some of those days to rest, “re-fuel,” and spend quality family time with your children. (Note: be sure to check your state’s public school regulations to find out exactly how many school days are required per year.)
Yes, single-parent homeschooling is a huge challenge. But if you’re creative, flexible, take advantage of available support networks and give yourself a break once in a while, you’ll probably discover you are a strong, capable, responsible parent who is GREAT at homeschooling your children!