By guest author Kim Sorgius
I picture her the same way you might: a homeschooling momma driving a 15-passenger van, wearing handmade jean skirts and grinding 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.
Although I still love this “ideal” picture, it doesn’t always happen quite that way.
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 school. Or maybe you’ve gotten past that, but you still can’t seem to keep your head above water as a homeschooling single mom. Whatever your story is, remember that the picture-perfect homeschool mom 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 throw out the crazy lies and focus on strategies we can use to accomplish what God has called us to do. Single mom, you can homeschool successfully!
3 Practical Tips For Single Mom Homeschooling
Although we can’t give into the lie that we are incapable of homeschooling as single moms, 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.
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 is the most important thing you can do as a single mom.
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.
A strong vision is simply writing down thorough answers to these questions:
- 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.
2. Think Outside the Box
Every homeschooler needs to think outside the box, but single moms have no choice in the matter. The most effective way to adapt is with your time. School doesn’t have to happen from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 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 1:00 p.m. until finished. Some families only school 3 days per week, fitting the subjects into longer days. [Editor’s note: check your state homeschool laws to make sure you are following them. Colorado requires at least 172 days a year]. Don’t let tradition dictate your life. (You may want to check out my Simple Schedule for Working Mom.)
Nontraditional curriculum may be part of the solution. Computer-based programs or even virtual schools minimize/decrease the expense and workload so you won’t need expensive textbooks and intensive parent interaction.
Finally, 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.
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 homeschool girl) a minimal wage to help clean, cook, and even babysit so that I can work.
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 to work independently on their school work. It’s often easier to do things ourselves, but single moms cannot make this mistake! Our time and abilities are even more limited than other moms, but this is not an impossible feat.
Of course, the single mom’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 five things I completely skip to make life easier.
- Creating a portfolio [for school records]. 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.
- Cleaning your house. Again, teach the kids to 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!
I pray these tips encourage you on the single-mom 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 list “work” as our hobby. However, 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.