Homeschooling as a single parent is a challenge. Well, actually doing the homeschooling isn’t so much, but making it work financially is the challenge. I can’t say that I am there yet, not making it by myself completely yet, after six months of being single and continuing to homeschool during that time, I still feel like this whole thing could be pulled out from under me at any moment, I still feel like we are in this crazy limbo state because I don’t have permanent work, or rather enough permanent work to make it all work. But I’m trying.
Wednesday, I had a serious moment. After a fairly good fight with Elizabeth concerning finishing a school project rather than watch ipad videos, I thought to myself, ‘This isn’t working, maybe it would be better to send her to school and have someone else teach her.’
I’d also had a moment earlier in the week at mid-day, after 3 weeks with very little work, while they were having another “dance-party,” I thought to myself, ‘I shouldn’t be here. I should be working. We can’t survive like this.’
Maybe it is time to begin searching more heavily and more seriously for something full-time and maybe it’s time to concede to the idea of public school.
The hard part about this is having to mourn giving up the dream to homeschool once again. Every time I have this thought, I cry, it’s like mourning a good friend who has passed on, or who is moving away rather, and you know that you may never see them again. It’s mourning a dream, a big dream, that you fought for but that just never seemed to come to complete fruition. I try to come to terms with the idea, but every time I do, all the reasons that I want to homeschool surface, which isn’t a bad thing. I try to convince myself that public school may not be so bad, that maybe she would like it, but then all the reasons that public school is not really what I want for my children present themselves as well. Let me say that I’m not anti-public school, I just feel that there are things that are left out that I want taught to my children, but I am anti-excessive testing, I see very little point in it, really, I think it seriously detracts from the children’s learning.
Why I Homeschool
1. Each homeschooler does so for their own reasons, though I’d say that we all do it because we love our children, and I do, I admit that I homeschool out of selfish reasons in that I love guiding Elizabeth’s learning and watching her do something new and come around to her handwriting and reading, I love coloring alongside her, and I love talking with her. That is definitely one of my main reasons that I homeschool.
2. I also homeschool because I am looking for deeper content. I love the Global Village School curriculums that include affirmations, social justice, peace, and eco-integrity. I want to get wholly away from Columbus Day as the day some white guy “discovered” “America.” (To me, America is North and South America, so my ex is American because he came from a Central American country, because, technically, he is.) Rather, lets talk about the attitudes of the Spanish when they came and who actually lived here when he arrived. Let’s talk in anti-racist tones, and include everyone’s feelings and thoughts into our dialogue. What I recall of public school included fake representations of holidays, many of which we don’t celebrate in our house. What will that mean to my daughter? What will she really learn from it? Will she learn to be more compassionate and to stand up for what she thinks is right? I’m just doubtful of that.
3. I homeschool because I don’t think that young children need letter grades. Elizabeth is in kindergarten, but reading hasn’t opened up completely to her. She knows her letters and their sounds, but struggles with sounding out words still. She likes to write if I feed her the letters. And that’s ok, she’s only just turned 6. But if she were in public school, she’d be pressured, required, to be reading much more than she does now. I do worry about that if I do have to send her next year, that she will be put in remedial classes, though she’s obviously so smart. I’m not against kids getting the help that they need, but I just don’t want her to be labeled as anything. Even letter grades label, what’s the use in labeling a 6-year-old? At this point, it really ought to be the process over the product.
4. I homeschool because we pull many different subjects into one activity. Currently, we are making paper. Paper-making involves science, kitchen science, art, color blending because she added food coloring, reading, scissor use and fine motor skills, math – oh the list could probably go on! If I wanted to, we could investigate how newspapers are made. Elizabeth is very interested in why the newspapers leave your fingers black, etc. I just feel like public schools’ manner of breaking subjects into individual blocks makes learning harder, really, because all subjects are present in all subjects. I understand that it may make it easier for teachers, but perhaps it makes it easier in a harder way. Would it not be easier and more meaningful to teach reading in association with some other concept that inspires the mind?
5. Which also brings us to tests. Shudder. I am not a good test-taker. I don’t know if Elizabeth is. What’s the point in all of the tests they are putting the kids through? What kind of learning happens when teachers have to focus on teaching the kids how to take the tests and the material they predict will be on the exam? I’ve never taken a test since. Not like that. It’s useless. And undermines learning, stunts it, and makes it terribly uninteresting. It’s a shame.
Reasons to Homeschool, Especially as a Single Parent
1. Every time I consider working full time and sending the kids to school, I struggle with the time management thing. I love the free-flowing schedule of homeschooling, and don’t much want to be boxed into the schedule of a school day. But I also consider that what a public school takes 5-6 hours to teach the kids, we can get done smoothly with 1-2 hours. Elizabeth and I usually max around one hour, though it could be less, sometimes more. I always end up coming around to wondering if I couldn’t just homeschool around work, since I would plan to spend that much time with them anyway. Some people say, “Why don’t you send them to school and then do extra stuff with them at home?” What’s the point in that? Really, they will probably be overwhelmed with all they have to do at school and homework, but if I’m going to do it that way, why not go all the way anyhow and just continue to homeschool, right? So, time is a consideration – possibly in my favor.
2. I can’t decide if it will be cheaper to homeschool or send them to public school. Public school is “free” but there are always inherent costs associated with sending them. The child-care costs are the most consuming that I struggle with in considering homeschooling, but either way there are costs to consider.
3. The time taken to guide my children in their learning is time taken to show them that they are important, that I care, and that I love them. Adult to child ratio is 1:1, sometimes 1:2 if the little one is awake, quite different from 1:30, or even at best 1:15 in a classroom with an aid. Right now that our family has recently become divided, I know that the time that I take with Elizabeth to school her is validating time for her to help assure her that I love her no matter what, and that I am here for her. I do fear that that would be lost if I were to send her to public school.
4. I use experiential learning as my main method of teaching, public school uses worksheets. Elizabeth’s learning is so much more the richer for learning through an experiential method, I really feel like it supports her whole person, and I fear the outcome if she were to attend public school. The outcome being someone afraid to start without the proper instructions, someone who kind of floats around unable to make a concrete decision like myself and so many people that I know, someone afraid to take the risk and follow their dreams because school teaches you that you should follow the safe path, someone afraid to really be themselves and do what they love because I know that I have denied myself that for fear and reasons that I’m not totally sure of. I don’t wish for my child to do the things that Steve Jobs did, but his is inspiring in how he couldn’t deny the spark of creativity within himself and the things he did he did with all of his heart, and I wish that for my children. I wish for them to feel secure in being who they are whether they end up working as software developers, artists, biologists, plumbers, massage therapists, construction workers or servers in McDonalds, because it’s not about what your job is but how you honor your inner self. I don’t feel public school even addresses this concept.
Public School Won’t Kill Me
If I do end up sending my kids to public school, it won’t be the end of the world, understand. Will I be disappointed? Incredibly. But whatever happens will do so for a reason, and I will accept that. At any rate, I don’t think I would send Elizabeth mid-semester, so I have 9 months to completely decide. I’ve got 6 months before I would need to contact the school about my decision to homeschool. I’ve got time to try out whatever career path I happen into, whether it continues to be that which I am currently doing or something else. And sending her next year to public school would also not mean that homeschooling was completely ruled out for the rest of our lives, high school graduation is the only thing that does that. It may turn out that a year in public school may be the right path anyhow. I guess time will tell.
Links to others writing about Single-Parent Homeschooling:
Janet’s Country Home – chock full of links and inspiration
Penelope Trunk – This page is full of all sorts of things, including work-at-home career advice
Not Consumed – A single, homeschooling mom offers encouragement to other single parents wanting to homeschool
And I’m maxed out with my internet search now. I’m sure I will have more links at other times. Thanks for reading. And share your thoughts if you have any advice on how to homeschool in a single parent home!