Single Parent and Working
by Ann Zeise
> I wish that I could stay at home and teach
> her myself but I'm a single parent and I have to work.
There is really no reason that homeschooling can't be done
completely on weekends and holidays. Do the math...
Many states have
some such day and/or hours per year sort of requirement that
is close to 1000 hours a year.
OK -- so there are 52 weekends each year, and you and your
child are probably awake, say, 14 hours a day, give or take.
That's 14 x 2 x 52 or 1456 waking hours in a year's worth of
Now, if you can reasonably expect to do a little "educational"
stuff on workday nights, like reading
books together, playing a board game, watching some educational
tv, doing something like attending a
scout meeting or 4-H club, then you can EASILY homeschool
your child as a working single parent.
Think of yourself more as a business manager
or coach as that is how homeschooling works best
anyways. Don't feel you have to act or behave like a school teacher.
School teachers behave the way they do because they have 24-32
kids in front of them. They have no choice. A manager or coach
has one to just a handful of people to manage. They explain what
needs to be done, makes sure the "team" has the proper
training and tools, and then lets them get on with their job.
Do delegate some of the educational responsibilities.
The child should agree to do some things on her own when you
aren't around. They should agree to read, do some "projects"
in the way of art or building models and such. If your child
is young, the babysitter can be expected to encourage creative
activities and not plop your child in front of a tv all day.
If the babysitter speaks another language, have her teach your
child her language. They can bake and garden together; whatever.
A teen should be expected to do some housework and have dinner
ready when you get home from work.
On weekends I know you need your time to get so many chores
done you don't think homeschooling would be possible, but the
actually time you spend "instructing" can be fit into
the normal flow of your household. Spend a little time explaining
a new concept, and then let your child work on a few problems
while you work on your own projects. Keep touching base.
Instead of hiring a tutor, hire a maid and then you get to
get rid of the onerous chores and get to do just the "fun
stuff." I know you are thinking I'm nuts, but I was a single
working parent at one point, and I did just this. I hired another
single mom, who was glad for the extra money, to come in for
about 3 hours a week, clean the bathroom, the floors and the
kitchen. It gave me so much more time to spend with my daughter
it was worth it!
"Unschool" -- incorporate learning into everything
you do. If you have decided that this Saturday you are going
to work on your car, then that's the day you teach "basic auto
mechanics" to your kid. If its your shopping day, have
your child help to plan
nutritious meals, shop for the best buys (explaining what
parts of the plant or animal the food comes from), and later
on help cook. (That covers health science, economics, biology,
and the physics of cooking -- even handwriting, if they wrote
out the list!)
You don't have to cover ALL the subjects every day yoursef!
My mother has such lovely handwriting
I delegated handwriting to her. We used to visit with her about
once a month, and so she would teach Scott a few more lovely
"Palmer method" letters. (Scott's older now, so those
lessons aren't the focus any more, but Mom does like to tell
him WWII stories and he's willing to listen to those now.)
Delegate some instruction to the scout leader, to the soccer
coach, to the Sunday school teacher, to the children's theater
director, to the piano teacher. Even your vet can teach your
kid about the life cycle of fleas!
So, find a good sitter, enlist relatives and friends to instruct
your child occasionally on whatever it is they like best, do
just a little each night, "unschool" on the weekends,
encourage your child to read a lot and have materials around
for 'projects,' and, yes, you can homeschool -- and relatively
Check out Working &
Single Parents for essays by others about the concerns
of single parents and those living on limited incomes.