Last week I said that I was completing my four week blog series on Is Homeschooling the Right Choice for my Special Needs Child. Then a question came up on one of the homeschool Internet groups of which I am a member. It was about homeschooling as a single parent. And I knew…I just knew that there was one more post left to be written on this one.
The author of that post was like myself a single mom with a home based business (mine is erotic romance author in case you didn’t know). Her child was experiencing difficulties in school and she felt that he would be better off with home education. But she was very worried about how realistic it was to homeschool as a single mom.
I replied briefly to her then but this blog is the long form response to her and all the other single parents (moms or dads) out there who wonder…is homeschooling even possible?
The short answer is yes, but it is more challenging. One of the reasons that it is more challenging ties directly into last week’s blog about counting the costs. Single parents unlike their married counter-parts do not have a daily source of back-up. Come five or six o’clock when you are utterly, completely and drop-dead exhausted, the Calvary (a partner) is not going to come charging through the door. No one is going to be there to give you even a shirt break. You must continue trudging along until bedtime with not only all the moment-to-moment things that your child’s special needs require, but home education is not as I have said before a nine to three-thirty type of thing. If your child wants to know about stars, it becomes a learning moment…even at eight or nine o’clock.
An even once your little darlin’ is asleep, you often cannot collapse into bed just yet. There are household chores to be done. You may need to plan lessons or add to your homeschool journal. And if you are self-employed, often it is time for you to go to work…at nine o’clock at night. Worse yet, when you do finally fall into bed at night, it is to the realization that another day of the same awaits you. Combine that with the uncertainty that accompanies many special needs children’s behaviors and it can be not just exhausting but at moments overwhelming.
But that is not the only thing to consider when thinking about homeschooling your special needs child. A series of posts on another of my Internet support groups highlighted another…dealing with the ex and even courts. Of course, we realize that the education we are providing our child is individual and suited to his or her needs in a way that not even the best of schools is able to provide. But let’s face it, what we do is still not accepted within the society in which we live.
Courts especially do not appreciate/recognize the value of the individualized nature of the education we are providing. Experts trust other experts and schools/teachers are the experts at education…right? Judges may not see the quality of provision that you provide, no matter how many studies, experts or social workers you have reporting.
And ex’s? Well, they are ex’s for a reason aren’t they? Whether homeschooling was the cause of the breakdown of your relationship or not, it is highly likely that your child’s special needs was a contributing factor to its demise. Parents of special needs children are up to twice as likely to end up in divorce court after all. Homeschooling can become another point of contention…another bone to fight over.
Of course, the best strategy is to put your feelings aside (no matter how hurt they are…and trust me this morning I am feeling pretty bruised from a recent run in with my own ex). Concentrate on finding common ground and win him or her over to your side. If you can keep homeschooling from becoming an issue in any court proceedings then you are in the best possible position.
One key strategy in this is to keep your former partner in the loop about progress. Daily updates if necessary allows them to see the benefits of the care and education that you continue to provide to perhaps the ‘best thing that came out of it.’ You could even get your child to make daddy/mommy something special…a card, a tie dye t-shirt or if you are feeling really ambitious write a story. And don’t forget to text pictures or videos that you take throughout the week so they can see first-hand how things are going.
Another really useful strategy is to give your ex the responsibility for teaching your child a specific subject or topic. If he or she is into computers, then ask them spend part of their time with the child teaching them ICT. If they are good with their hands, then design technology.
I am not naïve enough to think that these strategies will work with everyone. I know that I am lucky to have an ex that is relatively supportive of homeschooling (in large part because of how badly the school failed our daughter and keeping him in the loop with that one helped to pave the way to where we are today). And trust me, I feel to my core how hard it is to bite your tongue and let things slide. Sometimes it seems that your tongue has so many holes in it you might as well get it pierced.
Through it all, one thing is paramount…your CHILD. If you can keep the long term picture in mind and know that even on your worst day you are still providing your child with opportunities that no school could give…that you are giving them the second best gift (after life itself of course) the chance to reach their maximum potential. If you can cajole your former partner to your side with that realization then your life and your child’s will be easier. After all, your child’s best interest is probably the last thing that you two have in common.
Next week…join me for the Five Invaluable Lessons I have learned to becoming my child’s biggest advocate.