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Working & Single Parents

Homeschooling ideally works best when a parent can dedicate a good part of their day to the effort of encouraging the education of their children. There are many variables that impact families and how time-consuming their 'homeschool day' will be.

  • If you have younger children who will need a lot of supervision to grasp requires more time.
  • If you have a special needs/struggling learner child who needs more adult support to complete his/her requires more time.
  • If you are schooling multiple children at multiple grade requires more time.
  • If you are creating the curriculum you will requires more time.
Keep in mind you do not have to school the same number of hours that a child would be in public school. So much time is spent in hallways, standing in line, waiting for assistance in class, taking roll, distributing handouts, dealing with discipline issues, etc. that actual learning minutes may be more like 3 hours a day in those situations. You will be surprised at how much you will accomplish if you give a concentrated 3 hours to your child’s education daily!  And if you spread that out over the full year, rather than the 180 days, it really becomes workable.

With two working parents, one of the major challenges to resolve is how to divide the schooling and household chores. Some families achieve a balance by one parent managing the schooling in addition to their job, and the other parent handling the ‘household’ responsibilities, while others find a combination of each works for them.  Also, with the students being home more, they are more available to help with household chores as well.

Ideas to consider are:

  • One or both parents doing their work from home for part of their schedule, if not full time.
  • Adjusting parent’s work schedule opposite the other so someone is always able to be with the kids, or if single, with a support person willing to help you with the kids. Maybe a grandparent, sibling, or friend who agrees with the benefit of your homeschooling.
  • Consider whether older children can go to work with you and do their schooling there.
  • Remember, you can spread out the educating over 360 days instead of 180 days – do smaller portions daily over an entire year, which makes it more manageable for you.
  • Homeschooling is a life-choice not just a schooling choice…it will affect your whole lifestyle. You may have to adjust how many sports the kids play in, how much t.v. you get to enjoy, etc. so that there is time for the schooling to occur.
  • Possibly find another single parent who also homeschools that you could partner with to share the childcare time/follow up on homework time/provide educational games and programs when not specifically reviewing homework.
  • Usually a two-income household gives you more income to pay people for assistance which could include housekeeping so you have more time to homeschool, hiring a tutor to help with a couple of subjects, and/or using more expensive programs – like online courses, video, dvd, or CD-rom-based courses to assist you with educating your child(ren).

Whether two working parents or one - ideally, you will want to select curriculum that requires minimal preparation on your part (good Teacher Edition support) in combination with a student text that teaches to the student – not assuming he/she has a teacher reviewing every part of it with him/her. Some curriculums are designed more for the independent learner. Selecting one of these will help with older students so they can complete a large part of their coursework on their own.

Finding opportunities for your family to meet with other homeschooling families is a very positive, encouraging time and worth going through some hoops to find or organize. Parents need to connect for encouragement from other homeschoolers and the children benefit from the programs and interaction with other children. Many groups are organized for day-time meetings. If that doesn’t fit with the school/work schedule you have designed, why not set-up and advertise a once-a-month meeting at a local library for homeschoolers that does work for your schedule. You will likely find (over time) that there are other families in your area with similar time constraints that you have and you can creatively work together on some fun learning activities for your kids!

Single Parents:

Can you homeschool, work, and keep your family going? If you are a high energy, organized person who is very motivated about the positive benefits of homeschooling, you can make it work. If you have support of family and/or friends to homeschool, you can make it work. It takes creativity, flexibility and commitment from parents and children.

One of the challenges for single parents is often that the non-custodial parent may not be supportive of your decision to homeschool your child. Ideally, do your research in advance, and give them all kinds of supportive data about the success of homeschooling and help them understand why you feel it is the best choice for your child.


Research on success of homeschooling:
Home School Legal Defense Association,

Other sites with helpful information:


Homeschooling on a Shoe String, by Melissa Morgan and Judith Allee

The Everything Homeschooling Book, by Sherri Linsenbach

Check with your local YMCA, YWCA, Boys & Girls Club, or Girls Inc. and local libraries about programs that can benefit your children’s education. Many that have program costs have discounts for low-income families.

As you find good web resources for working/single parents, please email the IFHS and we will add them to our site.


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