4 Steps to Setting Up a Single Parent Homeschool

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Let’s talk about single-parent homeschooling. Maybe you’re newly divorced or widowed and want to continue homeschooling. Then again, you might be a single mom who wants to switch from public school to homeschooling. The questions are the same in either situation: Can a single parent homeschool? How do I do it? Is it possible?

4 Steps to Setting Up a Single Parent Homeschool
Guest post by Michelle Cannon of The Heart of Michelle.

Yes, Single Parents Can Homeschool

While we may picture a homeschool family as a two-parent household, that’s not always the case. While our numbers may not be as large, single-parent homeschool families do exist, and our numbers are increasing.

I had two sets of kids from two separate relationships. My older kids, who are adults now, were public school students when I was with their father. After we split up, I homeschooled them.

My younger kids are 17 and 13 years old. Their dad wanted them homeschooled, which we did. Unfortunately, he died in 2010, so I am a single parent in every sense of the term. Still, I continue to homeschool.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Setting Up Your Single Parent Homeschool

As a single parent, you’ll probably need to work. That will leave you questioning how you could possibly homeschool your kids. You can. I promise.

I suggest the following four steps to figure out just how and when you’ll homeschool.

1. Decide or figure out what homeschooling style fits your family best. Is it the classical method? Charlotte Mason? Unschooling? Once you determine the type of homeschooling you want to do, move to the next step.

2. Decide what schedule works best. (If you’re unschooling, you’re covered. Move to the next step.) If you are choosing a method which will require your presence or more structure, you’ll need to work around your work schedule. If you work a 9-5 job, don’t worry. You can still do it.

Some options include:

4 Steps to Setting Up a Single Parent Homeschool

3. Stick to the plan. I’m the first to admit to letting one aspect of my life or another start to run me over. I’m either working so much that I let homeschooling fall to the wayside, or the other way around. I’ve even let extracurricular activities take center stage. I solved this problem with a good planner.

4. Be flexible! You may lay out the greatest plan only to find it didn’t work after all. That’s OK. It’s a process sometimes.

I’ve been homeschooling for 16 years, and I assure you there’s not one of those years that didn’t see changes in my homeschool. In 16 years, I’ve changed our homeschool method a few times, I have changed our schedule innumerable times, and I’ve had to make adjustments as I discovered what works with my kids’ specific needs.

It’s not wrong to be flexible and make changes. What is wrong is sticking with a system, method, or schedule that stresses you or your kids. Don’t do that.

Give yourself time and patience. Homeschools aren’t perfect, even for those of us who have been doing it a long time. That’s OK.

The little imperfections make our homeschools as individual as our families. And that’s a beautiful thing.

In Part 2, Michelle addresses how to afford homeschooling as a single parent.

Michelle Cannon

Michelle Cannon is a single mom homeschooling children who have dyslexia and bipolar disorder. She is also a parenting and homeschooling consultant. You can find her blogging at The Heart of Michelle.

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This article was written by a Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers guest author. See the author's full bio in the body of the post.

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  1. I’m bookmarking this post! I’ve been asked by several different people how a single parent could homeschool and, not being in that situation, I’ve never been sure how to answer. And I’m sorry for your loss, Michelle. You’re an amazing woman.

    1. Shelly, Thanks for bookmarking the post. I hope it helps many. I have even more posts on single mom homeschooling on my own blog (see bio). Hopping over to check out YOUR blog now.

  2. Thanks for sharing your tips. While I don’t single parent homeschool, I can really appreciate reading about it. I personally know a family with 4 girls whose Mom died from cancer just over a year ago. She was the main homeschooler. The Dad chose to continue homeschooling. That just blows me away. I can’t even imagine.

  3. Wow nice to know that I am not alone. I must admit though I am lucky because being former military I have the GI bill to pay for my schooling so I get to stay home with my daughter all day, teach her, and teach myself via on-line university. I know that in 2 years while working on my masters things will change, but I hope that we will still be able to learn from home together even if I have to find part-time employment just to pay the bills. It is a financial challenge right now, but I think that the skills we are learning together certainly outweigh any perceived negative effects, plus we get to be creative and explore everything! I love homeschooling. Oh I do have a second advantage, I was home-schooled myself! All the best to everyone!

    1. Thanks for your service, Amy! and I really hope you wound up getting that graduate degree!

  4. Thank you. I’m a single mom of 4. I have a disability, so I get some financial help. I’ve always wanted to go back to work.. buy a home, save for college… And I always planned to as soon as my youngest started school..
    Of course life changes. My oldest has disruptive mood disorder.. and even though the public school is doing their best.. there is only so much they can do. He ends up suicidal, not far into the school year.
    So with his therapist behind me I’ve decided to homeschool, he makes straight As and has very little behavior issue outside of school..
    But I’m the only parent, of four, none of my family could watch them. So a caregiver will be my biggest obstacle
    But it’s nice to know that I might at some point be able to offer them more then a welfare life..
    Seriously Thanks

  5. I’m a single full-time working mom. My daughter has health issues. Regular school does not have any support for my situation. I’m freaking out, but happy to see your post here. THANK YOU!

  6. Great tips! Thanks for sharing this! I too am a single homeschooling mom of 4 kids (2 have graduated homeschool), and have homeschooled all of them since 2007 as a single mom. It is never easy to homeschool as a single parent, but definitely worth every moment!😊

  7. Hello,
    Im a single mom who wants to homeschool my 5yr old. Curriculum, and schedule are not the problem but trusted, inexpensive child care!
    If you had to work outside the home what did you do with your child? I wanted to send him to a spanish childcare program but it would cost me $610 a month! Still looking not freaking out yet, any suggestions please.

    1. Have you tried looking into websites that help with finding sitters? They offer background checks and such. It would probably be much less expensive (and easier to manage). Daycare is so pricey!!! Single people looking for childcare work often hope for long-term, predictable hours, yet don\’t expect outrageous pay.

  8. Great article! I’m currently struggling on whether to home school. Any advice on how an 11 yr old occupies time while I’m at work? It definitely takes structure.

  9. Great article…
    I am a biological mother of 4 and I have custody of my 2 step children. My older 3 children are in their 20’s and on their own; however my youngest just became a teenager. My 2 step children are 11 and 3. I am a chef and I am interested in home schooling. I just don’t know how to get started. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

  10. Hi, while this is helpful, and covers half the problem of single-parent homeschooling, what about the other half of the problem? What to do about child-care?

    Many of the reasons for homeschooling also mean avoiding day-care and preschool. For example, those who don’t want to follow a school’s prescribed vaccine schedule, or who don’t want their kids herded like cattle would also need to avoid day care.

    1. Oh my goodness! I am newly single parent and I was really worried about not being able to continue homeschooling. It is insightful and hope giving to see that it’s possible to thrive. Thank you and looking forward to learning more on this journey.

  11. I’m so glad I have found this place! I’m a single military mother. I was homeschooled growing up and took a few classes at the local high school. I remember thinking the system was horrible then and now that I have a first grader I feel the system is ruining her! I needed to find some wisdom and encouragement on doing it on my own while working full time. Thank you so much for this!

  12. I unschooled my daughter as a single dad in his 20s and early 30s. We backpacked around mexico for a couple years as part of it. Of course I worried about her not writing well enough or her refusal to do math. She was an insane reader though, as many homeschooled kids are and learned whatever she wanted to. She learned math when she needed to, also. Now she is in her 20s, just graduated with her BA a week ago starts a Masters program in the fall. Yay!!! So many years of worrying I was messing her up for life. Lol! Anyone thinking of doing it, go for it!! And trust yours and your kids judgement.

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