How You Can Make It Work – Part 2 {Guest Post – Single Parent Homeschooling}

10 free unit studies

Recently, I’ve had several homeschoolers wondering about single parent homeschooling.  I knew exactly who to ask this question, my very good friend Mary Jo Tate.  Mary Jo is a single, homeschool mom that I’ve known Mary Jo about 8 years.  One of her sons attended my workshop about kids starting a business several years ago.

Whether you are single or married, I promise you will find strategies to help in your homeschool in this 4 part series.

Making Realistic Goals

Be realistic in your expectations, particularly about how much time you can devote to direct instruction of your children. It simply may not be possible for your homeschool to match your highest goals, but you can still make it work.

Single Parent Homeschooling - one on oneMy ideal homeschooling scenario would include hours of daily reading aloud to my children, discussing ideas at great length, intensive one-on-one tutoring, and so on, but the necessity of earning a living simply precludes much of that.

I relish building my own eclectic educational program from scratch, but it’s much more practical for me to use at least some prepared curriculum. I’ve learned to come up with a realistic educational plan that we can actually implement rather than wasting time fretting over the gap between theory and practice.

Teaching Multiple Children

It makes sense to teach children together whenever possible. Skills such as math and phonics have to be taught at individual levels, of course, but most subjects can be taught to multiple ages. We usually begin our school time with the whole family coming together for Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memorization, poetry, and classic literature. Then, the boys split up for independent work and one-on-one instruction from me.

Children of varying ages can all study the same period of history, same topics in science, etc., with independent assignments at varying levels of difficulty. When we studied American history, Single Parent Homeschooling - booksfor example, we were involved in a weekly co-op where the boys did hands-on activities and presented reports. During the week, Forrest (13) read high-school and adult-level history books, Andrew (10) read intermediate-level books, and Andrew also read easier books aloud to Perry (8).

As soon as my children become competent readers, I encourage independent learning. I would prefer a leisurely family-wide read-aloud time for history, for example, but most of the time it’s more practical to have the boys read on their own and use our time together to narrate, answer questions, or discuss what they have read.

Responsibility & Delegation...2 Life Lessons

Learning to take responsibility for their own education teaches children important skills that will be useful in college and adult life. Independent learning also offers the opportunity for each child to pursue his own special interests. Forrest’s passions are history and business, Andrew is a scientist and mathematician, and Perry is a talented artist. It’s a little early to tell what Thomas (4) will specialize in (demolition work, perhaps?), but he’s spending a lot of time these days drawing with Perry.

You can delegate some instruction to older children. I take responsibility for introducing new concepts in math and phonics, for example, but Andrew helps Perry review phonics flashcards, listens to him practice reading aloud, and instructs him on his map work. Perry helps Thomas learn his letters and numbers, and teaches him how to draw simple figures.

Great Teaching Aids in Technological Tutors

Single Parent Homeschooling - technology tutors

You can also delegate to technological tutors, but be sure to keep in mind the hazards of too much computer or video time. Forrest and Andrew are currently learning how to type with a computer-based instruction program, and we’ll soon be adding computer-based foreign language study.

Audiotapes or CDs can be great aids for reviewing math facts, history dates, and so on, and recorded books can supplement live read-aloud time. My boys enjoy listening to Diana Waring’s history tapes and Jim Weiss’s storytelling tapes as they drift off to sleep each night.

In our next post, Mary Jo will discuss establishing systems that work for YOU.

© Mary Jo Tate

Mary Jo Tate educates her four sons at home in Mississippi, where she has a home business as a writer, editor, and book coach ( Her home study course on powerful strategies for balancing family life and home business is available at

For an additional bonus valued at $5.00, tell Mary Jo I sent you! All you have to do is add a message during Paypal checkout by clicking on “Add special instructions to the seller” below your shipping address and typing “Kerry Beck sent me!” You’ll receive “How To Create Credibility as a Freelancer: 70 Tips from a Collection of Experts” e-book filled with practical tips on building a successful freelance business.


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