How You Can Make It Work – Part 3 {Guest Post – Single Parent Homeschooling}

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Here’s what one moms has to say about Mary Jo Tate’s homeschooling series:

The title and Mary Jo’s status both say “single parent”. I just wanted friends to realize that there are great tips there whether you are a single homeschooling parent or not.

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

Systems, Systems, Systems…

Another helpful strategy is to establish systems to make things run smoothly. Some families find that a strict time-based schedule works well. A more flexible approach works better for my family, so I plan more in terms of a routine (things usually happen in a predictable sequence) rather than a schedule (things happen at a certain time).

My Homeschool System

weekly planner - single homeschooling parentI have found two systems that work well for my family. Our system for homeschooling involves weekly assignment sheets and an inbox/outbox system. I plan specific daily assignments a week at a time, type them up, and print out a list for each child. This helps ensure that the boys know what to do, even if I’m not available.

I list all independent lessons, as well as the studies that require my direct instruction or that we’ll do as a family, such as Bible, poetry, and reading aloud. The boys check off each lesson as they complete it. (Our rule for schoolwork and chores: it’s not finished until it’s checked off the list!)

Keep It Organized!

The assignment sheets double as my record-keeping system. Because I type them on the computer, I can make any needed adjustments (sometimes we add or rearrange lessons, and sometimes life intervenes in the best-laid plans), print out a clean copy, and save it in a binder for a permanent record of their work.

We keep stackable trays (available at office supply stores) in our school area, on top of a short bookcase holding current school books, binders, dictionaries, etc. Each child has an inbox where I put his assignment sheet and any papers needed for that week’s lessons, such as maps, worksheets, math tests, etc.

The boys put their completed work in the top tray, which serves as their outbox and my inbox. After I check their work, I discuss it with them if needed, and then transfer the papers to another stack of trays; the boys can then add those pages to their binders or folders.

Using Systems in Other Areas Besides Your Schooling

To deal with the rest of life besides homeschooling, my other system is a chart with an undated four-week grid for each child, listing all daily household chores and personal responsibilities. (I use a simple Excel spreadsheet, but you could draw a basic grid with a pen and ruler.)chores - single homeschool parenting

For example, Andrew’s chart includes: make bed before breakfast, brush teeth after breakfast, read Bible, brush teeth after lunch, complete all school assignments, sweep and clean the table after supper, brush teeth before bedtime, clean the litter box or feed cats, put dirty clothes in hamper, put away clean laundry, and drink four glasses of water.

These detailed lists, which we tape to the refrigerator, remind each child of what he needs to do, free me from repeating routine instructions, and allow me to see at a glance what has been done.

Let the Kids Help Out Around the House

My children do nearly all of the housework. I use two principles for assigning chores: divide repetitive tasks and assign work to the youngest child capable. Each of the oldest three boys is responsible for cleaning the table and sweeping the kitchen and dining room after a specific meal, which prevents debate about whose turn it is.

Homeschooling as Single Mom - laundry-girlsWhen emptying the dishwasher, a taller child puts away glasses and plates into high cabinets, and a shorter child puts away items that belong in drawers and low cabinets. The two middle boys do most of the laundry folding, and the oldest three all put away their own clothes, plus another category of laundry: towels, my clothes, and the youngest’s clothes.

I usually assign my four-year-old to pick up things from the floor (he’s closest to it!). He doesn’t have a regular sweeping assignment yet, but I often ask him to use his child-sized broom to sweep up little messes. The oldest two mow and weed-eat the yard after the youngest two pick up sticks and move outdoor toys to clear the way.

In our next post, Mary Jo will discuss how to balance all areas of life as a single parent.

© 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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