Homeschooling is hard. Period. When you talk to other homeschooling Moms they will tell you how much they love spending time with and teaching their kids. They will tell you that they have seen so much growth in their children; growth they know would have been stilted in the public school system. But, they will never say it’s a piece of cake! If they do, they are hiding something- or doing it wrong.
I’m not going to lie, homeschooling as a single parent is almost impossible. And, if you are not properly prepared, you will fail. It is the dirty truth but, in my opinion, dirty truth is better then shiny lies any day. And, when it comes to something so important there is no room for half truths and crossed fingers.
So, what do pioneers do? Where do women in the forefront of a movement go for help, information or support?
Each other. That is all we have – just the few of us who are doing it right alongside of you.
I am going to share with you the few facts that I have learned to be essential to my ‘success’ as a single, homeschooling Mom. I hope you read this even if you’re not going at it alone- you never know when you might meet someone who is.
#1 Most Important Rule: You must have faith
I realize that not everyone who homeschools is a Christian- but I know that most of us are. In order to successfully homeschool as a single Mom you must have a true and working relationship with God. There will be times when you can not do it yourself any longer. The best way that I have found to cope with that is to never do it by yourself in the first place. You will need their advice and guidance more then you can imagine.
#2: Find a homeschooling group
I am not a member of a homeschooling group, per se. I have tons of support, though. There are several homeschooling Moms at my church. I am counted as family of a couple that has been homeschooling for over 25 years- they also own Lamppost Publishing and KNOW curriculum. In addition to that, I am in the acquaintance of several educated women who have experience with Special Needs children and will answer any silly question I can dream up.
#3: Consider a preplanned curriculum
Although I did not do this- I wish I had. In fact, I am researching my options for next year. I have found that time is in the shortest supply in my life. Not to mention, I am pretty sure I have lost my mind. I wish I could open a book and be told what to do, what day to do it, in what order to do it, what extras to use, what crafts to do, what ‘real life’ associations to point out and how many times to blink. In other words, don’t be surprised at what you don’t have time to do in your new life as a single homeschooling Mom – this includes (but is not limited to) trolling the internet for crafts that explain the life cycle of a slug, planning a week worth of Math, Phonics, Spelling, English, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Handwriting, Bible Study and all the others, showering, remembering that February is MLK and Valentines Day, finding age appropriate information on Abraham Lincoln for your study of the penny – this could last forever. After the first year you can evaluate how it went and decide if you need to continue on the ‘grade in a box’ route.
#4: Give it up
You have to go into this with the realization that you are going to have to give things up.
Money: (I have a great series planned on this for Home Grown Families so make sure you look for it!) Many single Mom’s are poor- 30% according to the National Poverty Center at The University of Michigan~ Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
“Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2009, 29.9 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 16.9 percent of households headed by single men and 5.8 percent of married-couple households lived.”
We qualify as a poor household- we live way below the poverty line. Dinners out are few and far between and forget vacation, it’s not going to happen for us. My girls understand this and are good sports for the most part. Every now and then I hear “You need to go back to work, Ma. We need money to go to McDonalds.”
Time: This article was due in February. I am about 3 weeks behind on our 365 Days to Green feature. My car note wasn’t paid until the 12th this month. I need to fill out about 500 papers for a new Dr. for the twins. I only get to laundry when the twins are out of socks. We are constantly late to everything. You get the picture.
When there isn’t another person to help with the everyday… stuff, you quickly find that the ‘stuff’ bogs you down. Do you know how long it takes to get 3 little girls ready to go anywhere? Just getting us all together and out the door is a two hour job. I have learned to not schedule anything before 11 AM or we just won’t make it.
Self: I roll my eyes when I see friends post something about “me time” “girls night out’ “date night” and “much deserved.” Forget it. I don’t begrudge my friends their fun, I just don’t get any of my own. I have chosen to give up myself for them. Every now and again I get to go out for Sushi with a girlfriend of mine but that’s about it. Maybe you don’t have to go to the extreme like me, but understand that “me time” turns into “us time.”
While this article isn’t a comprehensive and in depth look into homeschooling as a single mom (time, space limits, and, honestly, attention deficits prevent such an article), I think I touched on the basics. Don’t forget that you can do an online search for ‘single moms homeschooling’ or something similar to get more information. (There is no fact or opinion too obscure that Google can’t dig out.) And you can always check out Home Grown Families for my ongoing brilliant, witty, and yet, poignant posts on homeschooling as a single Mama. Don’t forget to check back here next month for Part 2 of this article- that is, if I can manage to submit it on time.
Hi! I am Tiffany Thomas Ellman and I am the single Mama to 3 beautiful girls. I joined Home Grown Families when it was 6 months old and have loved every second of growing it into what it is today~ almost 4 years later! Blogging has provided me with opportunities that I would never have had any other way. The people that I have met have become so important to me and such a source of strength that I don’t know how I ever did without them.