By Kim Sorgius
Being a single mom or dad is tough. I get it. But single-parent homeschooling? That’s impossible, right?
Not so fast. You can be a single parent and still homeschool successfully. By using creativity and the tips shared here, you’ll discover enough time to juggle single parenting and homeschooling, and still have time for the rest of life!
Myth: The Picture-Perfect Homeschool Family Doesn’t Exist
I picture a homeschooling mama the same way you might: a woman who drives a 15-passenger van, wears handmade jean skirts and grinds her own wheat to bake bread. Her husband arrives home from a long day at work and leads the family in Bible reading and prayer time as they finish up a home-cooked meal.
Together, the family cleans the kitchen as they sing praise songs. Once the baby’s cloth diaper has been changed, momma plans school for the next day before she settles in with a good Bible study.
In 2009, I became a single mom, and my homeschool dreams seemed more like a fantasy. How in the world would I homeschool as a single mom? How would I have time? Wouldn’t I need to work? I felt like the door to homeschooling had been slammed shut.
Perhaps you’re facing these questions, too. Maybe your friends and family are telling you to put the kids in public school. Or maybe you’ve gotten past that, but you still can’t seem to keep your head above water as a single homeschooling parent. Whatever your story is, remember that the picture-perfect homeschool parent we all thought we’d be doesn’t actually exist.
Real life is messy, even when you love Jesus. It’s messy when you homeschool, and even when your family gathers ‘round the table with Bibles in hand. The truth is that all siblings fight, good mommas burn bread and even Christian homeschooling families walk through tragedies.
It’s time we drown out the crazy lies and focus on strategies we can use to accomplish what God has called us to do.
3 Practical Tips for Single-Parent Homeschooling
Although we can’t give into the lie that we are incapable of homeschooling as single parents, we must understand that some of our circumstances are indeed different. This homeschooling thing is going to be a huge sacrifice. And sacrifice needs resolve.
Here’s what you need to know:
Single-Parent Homeschooling Tip 1: Have a Strong Vision
This is the most important tip that I can offer you. There will be hard days. There will be ugly people and ugly words sent in your direction. You’ve got to gird yourself with truth and resolve to beat them. Having a vision for why you homeschool and a resolve to stick with it even when things get tough it the most important thing you can do as a single parent.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18) I always reword that for homeschooling: Where there is no vision, the homeschool perishes. If we don’t know where we are headed, we can’t get there. But if we do know what we want, even when we get a little off course, we will still ultimately get there.
- Why do you homeschool?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- What do you want your children to become through this experience?
Once you’ve got your answers, post them somewhere where you will see them often. You might even create a vision board using images and phrases from magazines to help you stay focused.
Single Parent Homeschooling Tip 2: Think Outside the Box
Every homeschooler needs to think outside the box, but single parents have no choice in the matter. The most effective way to adapt is with your time. School doesn’t have to happen from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. It will need to work around your schedule.
Some single parents school more at night or on the weekends. You might also work in the morning and homeschool from 1 p.m. until finished. Some families only school three days per week, fitting the subjects into longer days. Don’t let tradition dictate your life.
Non-traditional curriculum may be part of the solution. Computer-based programs or virtual schools generally minimize/decrease expense and workload.
Here’s the deal:
Don’t get hung up on location or style. It’s okay to school from a backpack in the doctor’s office. It’s okay for the kids to work on assignments while you are working on something else (including a job), and it’s okay if you skip the arts and crafts projects. Really. I promise.
Single-Parent Homeschooling Tip 3: Stop Doing Everything
I know you already know this; trouble is, we often don’t know how to stop. First, if there is any possibility of help, get it.Don’t hesitate to let your family members or friends help with schooling or other responsibilities. Since I don’t have family in town, I’ve paid a mother’s helper (an older homeschooled girl) minimum wage to help clean, cook and even babysit so that I can work.
What’s the real story?
The most effective thing you can do is train your kids to help. It’s important to establish a good chore routine and to teach them how to work independently on their school work. It’s often easier to do things ourselves, but single-parents cannot make this mistake! Even though our time and abilities are even more limited than other moms, it is not an impossible feat.
Of course, the single parent’s most precious commodity is time. You only get 24 hours in a day and the list of demands is more than most of us can really do.
We need to look for creative ways to mark things off of our list, so here are five things I completely skip to make life easier.
- Creating a portfolio. Instead, let your kids do it.
- Having a lesson plan book. Oh yes, I did say that.
- Really expensive box curriculum. You don’t need it. I promise, it’s not better than what a creative mom can come up with.
- Cleaning your house. Again, the kids can help.
- Meal planning and fancy recipes. Find a dozen staple meals that work for you and do the prep work ahead of time on your day off work. A crockpot is your friend!
Single-Parent Homeschooling: You Can Do It!
I pray these tips encourage you on the single-parent homeschooling journey. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we can rest firmly in the protection and provision of our gracious God. We probably won’t get much quiet time and the kids may think “work” is our hobby.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
In the end, this small sacrifice in the big scope of things could make the difference in our children’s decision to sacrifice their lives for the One who gave it all up for us. It’s worth every moment.
We believe homeschooling offers a high-quality education, which is why we support families with encouragement and practical resources like you found in this article. Won’t you join us in making these resources available to homeschooling families by becoming a member?