When I first became a single mom, everyone else had already made up their mind about my circumstances. I would have to get a job and put the kids in public school. There was no way to consider the idea of continuing to homeschool as a single mom. The consensus was that it would be impossible. And I almost listened to them on several occasions. But our lives had been turned completely upside down, and the dread of another change was pretty much the motivating factor for continuing to homeschool those first few years.
Truthfully, it was nearly 3 years after he left before I made a conscious decision about whether or not this homeschool thing would work out. Prior to that point, we just prayed, and God provided everything we needed. I did everything I could to stay out of the decision. But then one day, all the legal mess was finally settled, and I stared blankly at the numbers. No matter how you crunched them, I would indeed have to bring in some income. Plus, I had a serious time issue on my hands between homeschooling, mothering, managing the house, and bringing in that income.
This homeschooling thing was going to need a very strong backbone if I was going to drown out the naysayers and encourage myself to stand firm. So I wrote out my defense. Not really to prove my point. It was really for my own heart. It would serve its purpose as encouragement to my soul on those days when giving up single mom homeschooling seemed most logical.
Why I Choose to Homeschool as a Single Mom
1. Homeschooling gives you more opportunities to build family unity.
I knew that in the long run, it wasn’t money or things that kids desire; it was time. I had grown up with a single mom, and I knew that time together would be scarce, making it harder to connect. I desperately wanted to know my kids, enjoy my kids, and disciple my kids. Time together as a family would always be more important than the extras, even if extras were particular types of food, brand-name clothing, larger houses, or a nice car. Homeschooling brought with it the promise of more time with my kids. I knew it meant I might have to hold a little one on my lap while I was typing. But to me, that seemed so much better than sitting at a desk somewhere, typing, while that little one was in someone else’s lap.
Regardless of how it happens, kids who grow up in a home without their father have deep wounds. Their very identities are questioned, and the unknowns set nightmares in their hearts. They desperately need family unity. They need God’s truths in their hearts, and they need to be held. As the child of a single mom, I can tell you that extra time will not be found by sending the kids to school. We went to school 8 hours a day, only to return in the evening. When my mom got home from work, those evening hours were filled with homework, dinner prep, paying bills, and tackling that mountain of laundry. Quality time was scarce.
Yes, homeschooling will take time and energy, but a great homeschool curriculum can usually be done in less than 3 hours a day, leaving time for the children to help with chores and time for everyone to enjoy being together. Homeschooling your children will help foster much-needed family unity and begin to rebuild your children’s identities.
2. Homeschooling provides stability.
Counselors agree that stability is a crucial issue for children experiencing loss (even if Daddy just moved down the street). When children experience traumatic circumstances, stability becomes a necessity. If you were already homeschooling when you became a single mom, sticking with it will provide much-needed security for your precious little ones. If you were not already homeschooling, keeping them at home would be a change, but it can keep them from facing the changing tides of the school environment.
This was especially true for my family in those first few years. Homeschooling provided less disruption and the necessary stability for my children. They knew what to expect of their school day, even if they didn’t know if we would spend the afternoon in line at DSS or at a food bank. They knew they could depend on me to be with them every time they needed me.
3. Homeschooling shelters kids from bullies.
Just read the news, and you will be mortified by the stories of bus monitor bullies and the like. Kids are mean, and the school setting cannot provide the supervision to stop it. Do you know who those bullies are picking on? Children from broken homes are much more likely to experience bullying. They bring to the table far more issues to be made fun of, such as the lack of a parent, torn or tattered clothes, free or reduced lunches, and most likely a working parent who cannot attend school functions. Believe me, I am speaking out of personal experience here.
There wasn’t a single year of my educational career that I wasn’t picked on, even as early as kindergarten. I grew up absolutely terrified of people and without a single ounce of self-worth. I even seriously contemplated suicide multiple times as a teen. Please don’t be fooled into thinking that I am the exception. Countless stories have been told of such horrific experiences in school. Of course, homeschooling will not exempt your kids from this mean behavior (unless you hide under a rock), but it will drastically decrease it. Plus, the times when your children are with other children, the adult ratio is much higher, making it easier for parents to intervene when the comments get out of hand.
And if you still think that “sheltered” means awkward or “has no friends,” let me assure you it means protected from harm. Here’s a photo of my oldest on her homeschool graduation day with just a few of the amazing friends she’s made along the way. Trust me, we can all live without the bullies of the world.
4. Homeschooling allows you to take breaks when YOU need them.
Homeschooling will give you the opportunity to step back from learning when your children are going through a hard time (or when you simply can’t get out of bed). When your heart hurts, it can be difficult to think about a math lesson. On tough days, we change plans and stay in bed with read-alouds or iPod apps. Even with taking off as many days as we needed, my kids recorded more than the required 180 days during that first school year after I became single. Had they gone to school, it is likely they would have fallen seriously behind.
5. Homeschooling gives your kids the opportunity to improve their character.
There is one more benefit that I could not have imagined way back then. It was in the process of coping with the circumstances that my kids became very independent and very helpful. They are now willing to eat a little less to save money. They do laundry, dishes, and clean bathrooms. You name it, the chore is on their shoulders. They have risen to the occasion and found themselves a part of the family by their ability to contribute to helping us get by.
Some would say my kids had to grow up too early, but I don’t really see it that way. They are still very innocent. They still love to play, and they have more time to do it because they don’t go to school. Instead of spending hours standing in line, sharpening pencils, and waiting for the teacher to discipline another student before she can begin instruction, my kids spend that time contributing to the household. It’s really rather beautiful. They are gaining skills that will be incredibly useful for their entire existence as adults, not just their academic life.
When you look at all these points, working from home and homeschooling my kids bring with them the benefit of time, money, and so much more. Yes, there are some negatives and very hard challenges that come with this choice to homeschool. However, I think the benefits far outweigh those negative elements.
Believe me—I know what you are thinking, and I agree with you. Yes, it is harder to homeschool when you are a single mom. No one comes home and changes diapers while you take a bubble bath to get away from it all. But the truth is everything is harder when you are a single mom. It really doesn’t matter what activity you are doing; you now do it without help. Don’t buy the lie that you are not able to homeschool simply because he left. It is going to take some sacrifice. But being a good mom is always a sacrifice. We must daily choose to act on behalf of our children, often setting aside our own personal agendas.
Being a single homeschooling mom may be the ultimate sacrifice, but aren’t they worth it? Perhaps we could have a little more money if we worked outside the home. Perhaps we could find a job that isn’t as demanding. These thoughts might be reasonable, but they aren’t pointing us to the real truth. This life isn’t about what we can gain. This life is about serving the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Yes, being a single homeschooling mom is a sacrifice. But it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make—to train them up to be like HIM because I am but a vapor, yet the legacy I leave will last an eternity. Are you in?
If you are hung up on the financial part, click over and find out how a single mom can afford to homeschool.
But Can a Single Mom Homeschool Legally?
I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t afraid. I even personally knew someone who had lost the freedom to homeschool in her divorce. I was well aware that there was a possibility I would lose that freedom as well. I knew homeschooling was a privilege not everyone was afforded. I simply trusted God to do His good and perfect will in my situation. I had enough faith to believe (I mean REALLY believe) that if I was supposed to homeschool, He would take care of every detail, including the legal dilemma. And He did.
I know you are wondering, too. I know you are praying and possibly even agonizing over this dilemma. It’s important that I remind you I’m not a lawyer. I would strongly urge you to seek legal counsel. Every dime you spend will be worth it. There are also places where you can get legal help without cost to you. Try contacting a local women’s shelter for help. But I can tell you what I’ve seen happen in general as I’ve walked alongside hundreds of single moms wishing to homeschool.
If you are already homeschooling when your marriage ends, it is very likely you will be able to continue homeschooling. Generally speaking, the judge will honor your desire to keep circumstances as normal as possible. Throwing the kids into school suddenly would not be in anyone’s best interest. They call this “keeping the status quo.”
If you are not already homeschooling, it is possible for the father to fight your desire to do so. Sadly, he has a good chance of winning. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that our government isn’t too quick to defend anyone’s right to homeschool. (For the record, homeschool legal defense groups will not get involved in a civil matter such as this.)
In either case, it is best to work out an amicable agreement with the father. If at all possible, get permission to homeschool written in your legal agreement or divorce paperwork. Chances are, you can use this as a bargaining tool when you go to mediation. In my experience, not too many fathers expend the energy to fight this unless it somehow hurts them. This would be a good time to show how you staying home financially benefits him. For example, a full-time job outside the home would leave the children in after-school care, which is rather costly. In most states, he will be responsible for a portion of that. I know that he should care more about the well-being of the children and their academic success, but sadly, I don’t find that to be the case. I would focus on ways it would benefit him directly.
Legal matters aside, don’t discount God. If He has called you to homeschool, it doesn’t matter what the stats say or what your ex-husband says. It won’t matter if he says he will fight it. It won’t matter that you’ve never homeschooled before. It only matters that God can be trusted to do exactly what He said He would do (1 Thessalonians 5:24)! Don’t be discouraged, my friend. Keep pressing on!
Real, Single, Homeschool Moms Said
I thought I was the only one for many years. I thought it was impossible until I had no choice but to homeschool. Now, I cannot imagine it any other way. God has provided above and beyond what I could have ever imagined. The thought of my son being gone 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week is way too much. ~Kristie
If a mom feels led to homeschool, then just trust the Lord and follow Him! He will provide everything you need! It won’t always be easy, but your children are an eternal investment and your first ministry. He will bless you in ways you could never imagine. ~Jennifer
It IS possible to homeschool. There are other families that might be willing to school your child in specific subjects a couple days a week—to give you “work at home” time. ~Julie
Homeschooling as a single mom is difficult, but not impossible. I thought several times about putting my kids in public school but didn’t really feel comfortable with that decision. Being a single mom, and especially homeschooling as a single mom, is made much easier with some support, whether it comes from family or church. ~Anonymous
My 10- and 11-year-old had such extreme behaviors I was called multiple times a week to school, and I rarely took them into the community because of worries about how they would act/react. Since homeschooling, we frequently go into the community because their behaviors have decreased immensely. ~Tammi
I used to run a full-time business from home. I homeschooled during that time. It is entirely possible for a single parent to work full-time and homeschool. Today, my teens are both succeeding in college. My 16-year-old has been offered university entrance, tuition-free. I don’t believe this is an isolated result of homeschooling. People who say single, working parents can’t homeschool are problem-focused, not solution-oriented. I say, be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. ~Anonymous
I worked full-time for a year and realized the toll it was taking on my kids’ education and how it increased the stress on our family, so I quit (there were other reasons as well). That year was the first time I had worked so much out of the home since 1988 (I have 7 kids). I decided that I would rather struggle financially (nothing new) than lose my kids just at the end of their homeschooling. We are now in a strange living situation, but I already see a big difference, especially in my 14-year-old. Homeschooling is worth it. ~Laure
This is my last month getting food assistance. I don’t like using government programs but I found it necessary while my children were younger. I also just finished college while schooling my children. If you have the desire to homeschool, you can do it. Pray for help and know that you are capable, no matter what others say. ~Anonymous
This was our first year homeschooling and I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. BUT, it was truly an adventure and we found out what works for us. I know what my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses are. I have to remind myself not to compare her to others. (I’m the only one out of all my friends who homeschools.) I love my life and all its struggles and glory! I thank God for giving me everything we need. It may not be a lot, but it is ENOUGH! ~Jen
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.