Single Parent Homeschooling: Not Impossible! 6 Tips to Help You Do It

by aunice1

if you’re a single parent thinking about homeschooling, or are finding yourself in the position of needing to teach your own because of COVID-19, this is for you.

Not very long ago, a new movement caught on with lots of families. Out of frustration and lack of educational choices, parents began homeschooling their own children. Back then those who homeschooled were married couples with families; the husband went to work and the wife stayed home and taught the children. In fact, single parents were often advised not to homeschool. It was believed that it just wasn’t possible. But in more recent times, this has all changed. There are single parents who against the odds decided they wanted their children to have all the benefits of homeschooling too. They sacrificed, and committed themselves to making changes to their lifestyles. And they made it all happen quite successfully.

Single parent homeschooling is possible with the proper resources.
Single parent homeschooling is possible with the proper resources.
Single Parent Home Educators Association of America

And now with the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are quickly finding themselves suddenly faced with the job of teaching their own children from home. Day after day, parents struggle to make the abrupt shift from dropping their kids off to brick and mortar schools, to overseeing their children’s school studies themselves. Many parents are experiencing fragmented employment due to business closures, and must juggle time against finance. While some are fortunate enough to have the assistance of family members and friends, even still the adjustment is difficult. Ultimately, they are expected to ensure their children are doing their schoolwork, paying attention during class time and are actually attending classes on time and adhering to the schedules set for them. 

Even while classes are being taught over the Zoom platform, parents still must oversee their children's work. This is stressful, as it literally demands one person be in many different places, doing several things all at once! It requires patience and resilience, especially if you are a single parent who is new to teaching your own child. 


Tip #1: Help others; help yourself.

This is the most essential thing you can do to make your homeschooling program a success, especially if you are a single parent. Pooling your resources is probably the smartest thing you can ever do. You can share just about anything: housing, food, child care, transportation, etc. You can even share or barter services. Do you enjoy or know how to do something really well? Barter your services with other single parents who homeschool. Form a child care co-op, grow a garden or start a family dining club. The possibilities are absolutely endless.

Tip #2: Work from home.

Homeschooling requires your undivided attention. You'll need to be able to plan lessons to a certain degree, even if you use an unschooling approach. You'll also need to actually teach and assess your child's progress. The whole objective of homeschooling is to be involved in your child's learning process and that requires time and a some flexibility. Working from home provides you with this wonderful opportunity.

This is where many single parent homeschoolers have the biggest dilemma, generally trying to schedule work around homeschooling which may or may not require child care. When I first began homeschooling, my children we young. I provided room and board to a college student in exchange for babysitting. It worked out well as I worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. Of course I was robbed of lots of rest in the beginning, but I was able to teach my child who was still in elementary school at the time.

In an effort to have more flexibility and freedom with my time, I became a freelance writer. It was slow going at first as I'd done lots of free work, to build a presence in the field. I did finally get that break and I've pretty much been able to get paid for my writing ever since. This allowed me to gradually make the transition into the mental health field as well. I'm not wealthy by any means, but I'm quite happy with life as I'm living it how I want, doing what fulfills me and that's accomplishing a lot in today's world.

There are many single parents doing the same thing. They are finding what fulfills them and then turning it into a money-making business from home. Lots of online companies are also providing a way for people to work remotely from home now.

A Helpful Resource

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything
Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything

Tip #3: Be Resourceful. Keep Costs Low.

Homeschooling can be expensive, but it really doesn't have to be. Single parenting can be difficult on a family financially, believe me I thoroughly understand this, which is why it is imperative to be very resourceful. Know where you can get the help you need, whatever it is. Plan out your costs as best as you can, particularly those that relate to your educational program because they can get away from you quickly, if you don't.

Here's how:

  • Co-op with others, particularly other single parents that homeschool. Swap, barter, buy used, pool resources

  • Use your library...a lot. Lots of free resources. Sometimes they have used book sales

  • Take advantage of free curriculum resources. There's a whole bunch out there online

  • Buy used curriculum. Lots of this is also online. Most of these companies are run by homeschoolers

  • Have your high schooler take college courses. They are free to high-schoolers (depending on where you live) and the credit is applicable to college requirements.

  • Cut down on extraneous costs: cable TV, expensive internet services (shop around), expensive cell phones and cell phone bills, control energy costs, video games, etc.

  • Avoid pre-packaged curriculum. Build your own curriculum instead.

  • Watch your food bill closely. Cook at home instead of eating out. Have your kids cook at least one meal each week. Plan your meals, instead of going through the local fast food drive-through.

Everybody in the house should have a chore.
Everybody in the house should have a chore.

Tip #4: Prevent burnout by taking care of yourself.

Know when to slow down and take a break. Create fun, light days which can provide a brief, much needed respite from rigorous study. Feel like you’re getting behind? Allow a day or two for catching up. Encourage your child to work independently.

Design an educational program that urges them to think independently and allows exploration of special interests. You, the parent, provides the best materials and opportunities, while assuming the role of coach, guide, and a facilitator of learning. Older children, family members, and support group members can assist and supervise too.

Everyone in the house should have a job to do. Everyone helps, even the preschoolers. That's with clean-up, housekeeping, getting ready for dinner, pet care, breakfast, lunch, you name it. If there’s a home business, the older ones can assist with small tasks. This is wonderful because it produces an atmosphere of the family working together as a team. Assign chores for a month’s time and then switch it up so that everyone gets to do a variety of things.

Simplify your life. Get rid of excess clutter, get exercise daily, eat nutritiously and get adequate rest, especially if you are feeling tired!

The life of a single parent can be stressful. It is important to allow time for yourself. Spend time with friends where possible, enjoy hobbies and nurture your faith tradition.

Tip #5: Choose or design an educational program that works well for the student and the family schedule.

Devote some time to finding out how your child learns best and then apply this to developing your home education program. Some learn best by listening, others by doing hands-on projects and still some children learn visually. While it's a good idea to include opportunities for learning in a variety of ways, concentrate on their individual qualities and needs and you'll increase learning this way.

One of the most excellent benefits of homeschooling is that you have choices in the educational approach you use. This allows you to individualize your child's curriculum to suit his or her learning strengths, interests and you can help them improve weak areas. Homeschoolers refer to this as "customized development."

As you set up your home education program, consider your work schedule and then plan schooling around this. You can successfully homeschool whether you work at home or full-time outside of the home. Keep in mind that homeschooling is not "public school at home." It's a lifestyle. You have the freedom to schedule activities in a way that works best for your family.

Tip #6: Take It One Day at a Time

There's really no need to rush homeschooling. If you are not completely sure about it, give it a little time as it is a serious commitment. It’s not something you do and then stop doing. It takes dedication, so be sure it is something that you’ll stay with. The other thing you can do if you aren't quite ready for homeschooling is to consider afterschooling your child. Done on a part-time basis, afterschooling will give you experience as well as some of the benefits of homeschooling while you take advantage of school breaks, after-school time and the weekends. With this, you can gradually work your way towards full-time homeschooling, if that is your goal.

If you have been thrust into virtual schooling, due to the coronavirus, this applies as well. But it requires a changed mindset. Use the time to enrich your child's learning, help them discover something that isn't being taught at school, or provide remedial help to improve certain skills like mathematics, spelling, composition or reading. Promote free reading and narration skills.

Once you are actually a full-time homeschooling family, understand that it all doesn't have to be done in one day all of the time. Sticking to a regimented plan, with very little flexibility will burn you and your child completely out before you can get started. Take your time and try different scheduling tactics.

My kids enjoyed concentrating on a couple of academic subjects for most of the day, leaving the last hour and a half in afternoons for P.E., cooking and the like. Mondays and Wednesdays were completely devoted to English and Science, for instance. Fridays were mostly for the fun subjects: art, gardening, unit studies, Shakespeare, and music.

Dr. Bruce Perry, Childhood Development on LIVING SMART with Patricia Gras

About the Author

Aunice Yvonne Reed, M.S., M.A., AMFT, has been enjoying writing since about year 2006. Her published content has appeared on such sites as WiseGeek, Hubpages, Medium, EHow Health, Walden U and EHow Family. Her print publications include Organics Magazine, Girlfriends Cafe and Parents for Parents. She has a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy with Clinical concentration from Touro University, a M.S. in Addiction Counseling from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Clinical Track) from California State University, San Bernardino CA. She is also certified as a Substance Use Disorder Certfied Counselor (SUDCC) in the state of CA.

Updated: 01/02/2022, aunice1
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/07/2022

Revisiting your wizzley called to mind something somewhat related, somewhat unrelated that I'd meant to ask with the first reading.

You indicate under your third tip that "Have your kids cook at least one meal each week." Is the meal something that your children totally arrange and carry out? (And who would do the dishes? ;-D)

aunice1 on 01/02/2022

Hello DerdriuMarriner!
Thanks for stopping by to read the article! When my 2 oldest were still in school (in college now) we did Math daily,but on Tuesdays and Thursdays we focused more on math and history/geography. My youngest, who graduates in 2 years, does a different program which is significantly more rigorous. Lots of math. Lots of science. Lots of reading.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/29/2021

aunice1, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
What do you do for homeschooling Tuesdays and Thursdays?
Something that I've found educationally entertaining, entertainingly educational is vetting a film or, especially, a series episode for educational, entertaining references.

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