October 24, 2016
Being part of a single-parent support network: How homeschool communities can be S.A.F.E. places
By Louise Frazer.
When people think of homeschooling, they usually think of a family in which dad is out working while mom stays home and teaches the children. That is not always the case, and in reality there are many exceptions. What about single-parent homeschooling? Is that an oxymoron?
Although single parenting and homeschooling are both challenging, they are not mutually exclusive. Chances are you’ve rubbed shoulders with one without even knowing it at your homeschool group or provincial conference. In a milieu dominated by two-parent families, single parents often don’t want to stand out.
You might wonder what drives a single parent to homeschool. The answer is simple: the same things that drive any parent to homeschool. Most often, the homeschool was established before the rupture of the marriage or death of a spouse and, regardless of the trauma, the reasons for homeschooling still remain. Special needs don’t melt away, desire to offer an extraordinary educational experience does not evaporate, parental values remain and, if anything, time with their children becomes even more precious.
The motivations remain, but the challenges increase.
Single parents have some special challenges with finding enough time in the day or week, working on top of teaching their children, and if the other parent is in the background, balancing a schedule that accommodates everyone. When faced with not only a drastic family change, but the added dilemma of how to continue homeschooling, along with the added pressure of earning a living, this gargantuan task grows even larger.
Reorganization is necessary, and what that looks like varies from one family to another. Part of the process is establishing a reliable support network. If you or your homeschool support group want to be a part of a homeschooling single parent`s network, here are some suggestions.
Be Sensitive: Don’t ask a myriad of questions without invitation or assume anything about their circumstances. Chances are you’re wrong anyway.
Be Available: Single parents often have no one to bounce ideas off of with regard to homeschooling issues. A non-judgmental listening ear is invaluable. Sometimes they can feel overwhelmed, as everything falls squarely on them. Consider offering the single parent a day or half day off occasionally so they can see the doctor, complete household tasks, or just soak in the tub.
Be Flexible: Balancing homeschool, work, and activities alone is like walking a tightrope without a safety net. Attending every meeting or activity is probably impossible. Activities in short spurts or in an informal setting can be easier to handle.
Be Encouraging: Like any homeschooling parent, single parents can get discouraged, but often don’t have someone to lift them up. Speak words of hope and support.
No one person can fill all of these roles all the time. That is why it is important for homeschooling single parents to have an entire network. Being a part of that, even just a small part, can make all the difference.
Editor’s Note: The author of this article, Louise Frazer, is a single mom and is an invaluable resource to the HSLDA family as we seek to assist all of our members, no matter what their current circumstances may be. As issues arise in your homeschooling journey, do not hesitate to contact the HSLDA office. Our staff is comprised of people with many different areas of expertise and life experiences. We are here to help you! (See the staff bios page to learn more about who at HSLDA can be a support to you in your homeschooling.)