Being a single home educating parent is not something I ever thought I would have to navigate. I’m sure it’s true to say of most of us that we didn’t really expect to be raising our kids on our own, and it’s also true to say that most parents didn’t expect to be adding their full time education to our to-do list.
I chose to home educate my three children from the start (they didn’t attend nursery either), but I didn’t become a single parent until my children were 9, 7 and 5. My passion is encouraging and equipping parents to home educate, especially ‘against the odds’.
Today I’m sharing with you 5 things that will relieve your worries, and boost your confidence and ability to home educate your children as a single parent.
Home education is affordable
This is many parents’ #1 worry when it comes to home educating. Two parent families may be able to get by with one parent bringing home the bacon, but as a single parent I know only too well the pressure to earn enough to live on.
When home education is thrown into the mix it can seem impossible- how, where, when could you possibly work with a child at home a lot of the time?
I can tell you now, it is absolutely possible. I have a full blog post on how you can home educate and claim benefits such as tax credits and universal credit, to give you the safety net you need to be able to home educate.
There are also ways to work around children. These include using childcare while you work (yes, children can go to childminders or be left at home if they are old/mature enough); working from home as a home educating parent and/or becoming self-employed to work around your child.
You do not need to fit home education into any particular hours, so you are really free to design a work/life balance to suit you and your children. I run this blog and a home education resources business.
Children become NICER when you home educate
Yes, this sounds weird- let me explain. I can’t count the number of parents who have said to me things along the lines of ‘I could never spend that much time with my child, they always complain they’re bored/ argue all the time / take up all my attention.’
Well, those parents only know their child as they are in a schooled lifestyle. This includes early starts and rushed school runs, unmanaged friendship issues, homework, exam pressures and being in a controlled, dictated environment for 30+ hours a week with no choice as to how to spend their time.
That hardly sounds like an environment in which a child is going to be at their most relaxed and happy, and therefore ‘nice’ to be around. I’m certainly no picnic if I feel forced into a situation I don’t like!
If you do feel that you could use some fresh perspective on your child’s challenging behaviour, my gentle parenting blog posts may be useful to you.
It’s amazing the transformation that often happens when children are deregistered and free of the stresses of school – so don’t expect your child to behave exactly as they do at the moment (if they are in school), the chances are they will chill out and flourish.
Your home educated child will make friends (and so will you!)
This is another very common concern- socialisation. I’ve written several posts on how home educated children socialise which I recommend reading to ease any worries, but essentially there is a wonderful home education community with plenty of meet-ups and groups for children to attend.
These include both drop-off groups and ones where parents and carers stay too, so you will also have opportunities to make friends with like minded people. If you are at all worried about this side of home education I suggest you read my post on how to find the best home education support groups.
You don’t have to be academic – and your kids can still do exams
Some parents have concerns that they aren’t ‘clever’ enough to home educate. What if I told you that some of the most amazing home educated kids I’ve met have had non-academic parents, and that I think it can actually be a huge benefit to have a parent who didn’t do well in school?
I did fine at my (super high-achieving high pressure grammar school) school but I didn’t go to Uni- I have travelled the world and been self-employed my whole adult life. Read my post on why you don’t need qualifications to home educate, and the 10 free things you need as a home educating parent, and you’ll see why.
In the meantime, know that if children want to study subjects that you don’t feel confident in, there are lots of resources out there (I highly recommend these home education activity packs as a fun, no-pressure starting point). Home educating parents definitely don’t need to be anything like teachers!
We are mostly facilitators: helping our kids find people who *can* teach them skills they want to learn, and Googling things for them, taking them to libraries, helping them apply for online lessons or courses or college if they want to, and being a general support and cheerleader. That’s our job- not to replicate a school teacher.
Something else that may be reassuring is that children don’t have to do SATs, GCSEs, A-levels or any other exams if they don’t want to. At the same time, they can if they do feel inclined, through local schools or colleges as a private candidate (how home educated kids do exams is another post you may wish to read).
You will never regret the bond that comes from home educating your child.
Depending on the age and stage of your child, you will be there when they crack reading their first word. You will be there to see the spark in their eyes as they practise and practise and practise their favourite instrument, or put the final Lego piece on a creation, or the finishing touch to a painting.
You will be the one they run to to show you a video they shot and edited, or the vegetables they grew, or the house they built in their online game. There is absolutely nothing in the world more precious than those moments, and that is the almost magical secret of home education- we get to be there for all the best bits.
For more home education advice and encouragement, visit my home education blog posts.