Keeping up with your home schooled child while you are away…

Single parenting may be one of the hardest things anyone can take on. It is a task best-managed by two people .  But that is not always possible.  The extended family and good friends can provide endless help.  But, tThere are so many single parents who are just trying to keep bread on the table for their kids.  How can a single working parent home school their children?

Today, I am going to limit myself to situations where the child is old enough or mature enough to stay alone. I am one of those who still believe the world is basically a safe place without monsters behind every tree. I could be proven wrong today, but I am going to pray that my beliefs will be proven true. I also believe it is good for a child to be allowed to take on more responsibility early in their lives.

Home schooling families are generally ones who have many friends. They are actually the families involved in many things outside of the home. Many have trusted neighbors close who may home school. They may also have elders close who might not mind looking in on the kids or at least making a phone call. The most important part of all this is that the child feel safe and is safe when left alone. They should feel that there are other adults to whom they can turn. So if you have trusted neighbors you might try asking them to either check in on the kids or make phone calls at some regular time. They don’t have to live really close to make a phone call. Often all that would be needed would be a simple call to be sure things are ok and on track. A family member might also be willing to do this at a certain time each day. There are also home school consultants who will call to check on your children. They will do this for a fee. What they do is call the child to make sure everything is ok, then call, text or email the parents to let them know how the child is handling the day. Often work places will not allow parents to make such calls.  Because of this, more services are becoming available to parents along with bonded tutors who can be trusted to work with your child when you are not around. All that can take place right in the home.

Please remember that we are really talking about here is the trust you have in your child as well as the safety of the surroundings. But having said that there are other ways parents can keep up with their kids. Cell phones are now nearly ubiquitous. Many of the devices have GPS systems installed in them. This allows the parent to track where their kid is if they have the phone on them. When you discuss these things with your child you may want to assure them that the point is not to keep up with the child but to assure yourself that the child is safe and sound. Having the child phone or text you at certain times of the day to verify what they are doing and where they are will also give you much piece of mind. One easy thing to do is to have the child take a picture of themselves in the house or where they are supposed to be at particular times during the day with their phone. They can then send these pictures to you by mms or by email to let you know where they are. They can bear a time and date stamp. The same thing can be easily done with the web cam and a chat program where you can establish and internet link to talk to the child and see what they are doing. There are a number of services that will do this for you.

Some parents install internet ready cameras in their homes so they can keep up with what is happening over the internet.  This is becoming very common among people who take care of the elderly.  Many care givers who do not want to place an elder person into a permanent care situation will simply install small web cams around the house so they are able to check on their elders.  Many of these systems can be installed so that you can actually talk to your child over the cam system.  It is entirely possibly now to keep up with what is going on in the house from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Many parents choose to involve themselves in a Co-op where children can be left during the day for a fee. The child will do their home schooling assignments, be in the company of other children and adults until you are free to pick up the child again. Many churches are now beginning to figure this out as a way to make extra income or become involved in a home school ministry by providing a place where kids can be while their parent is away.  Check with local home school associations or other home schoolers to track these services down.

If you don’t have a formal co-op perhaps it would be possible to get several trusted families together to provide needed supervision during times you cannot be at home.

Other solutions would be an alarm system that includes a panic feature. But with a reliance on family, friends, and other home school families you will most likely be able to manage well.

There are also excellent churches that sponsor classes for home schooled kids and supervised study halls. Perhaps the best place to start a search for these organizations would be a local home school association or home school stores in your area. A number of stores also have classes and supervised activities.

However, all of that may be unneeded if you feel your child is responsible or if you can check in with your child during the day or the time you are gone. All that leaves you with is the need to organize assignments. When I was a child I loved to organize myself. I even made a schedule out for myself from about the fifth grade. Yes, I was a strange child. That being said every child has a particular need for organization. Some need more while others need less organization.

I like systems that provide everything in one place that a student will need to work on a particular assignment while the parent is away. Some parents use shoe boxes, other use file boxes. One of the best systems is Sue Patrick’s Work Box System. Sue has created an organization system that is bar none as good as anything I have seen. You can find Sue’s materials here

You, of course, know your child better than anyone. You know how much independence your child can accept. I was by myself a tremendous amount when my mother worked after my father passed away. I was fine at those times because I had organized things to do. Remember there is always a solution to every problem. If I can be of help in any way brainstorming solutions or helping you figure out what to do, drop me an email here. There is a solution to every problem.



Filed under home school, independent learning, single parent homeschooling

5 responses to “Keeping up with your home schooled child while you are away…

  1. Though I haven’t left the kids home by themselves (more than a half hour), I did drop them off at the YMCA for a bit while I went grocery shopping. The YMCA allows kids 7 and older to be there without an adult, as there are many staff there at all times.

    We don’t have a coop at church, but during the ladies Bible study, the homeschool kids work on their schoolwork in a separate room. When we start hearing the boys run around, we know the study is nearing an end.

    • johnmcgeough

      I can certainly relate to your comments. As a youth pastor we often gauge the length of time an activity or session goes by the patter of little or big feet. 🙂 Ymca’s are excellent resources I didn’t mention. I thank you for that mention. I realize what I am advocating depends on the age and stage of the child. I think you are doing what is wise for your kids. As kids become older I think it is generally positive to give them more and more responsibility to the extent they can handle it. When the “outside edge” is reached just pull back a bit. You will find I think that the kids will grow to accept the responsibility you give them.. 🙂 thanks, John

  2. So, now I have a question for you…I know my kids are still young, but I am trying to prepare them and myself for what the future brings educationally. Our oldest is totally sold on the local school, hyped I’d say…even if it isn’t where we want him to go. I’d then found a great montessori school and was ready to enroll hime, however his younger brother was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and this school has no nurse. Do you then send the kids to different schools? Homeschool one? What is your take on this situation?

    • johnmcgeough

      Hi Sarah.. I am sorry to hear of your child’s illness. Yes, I think it is fine to home school one and not the other. I do think it is important to be honest with the kids about the reasoning. If the one child is just sold on school, go ahead and follow that path unless you see something absolutely hurting him. As I have said in previous blogs there are good schools and home school is not right for every child. It is perfectly fine to home school the other. Every child is an individual with different needs. That, to me, is the real key to all this. Schools out of necessity must provide a uniform “menu”. But that may not be bad for every child. But it is very important, in my opinion, to involve the kids in the decisions. Yes, go ahead and let them go into their separate situations. It may be that your child who wants to attend school will choose home school. Please let me know if I can be of further help. God Bless.

  3. Trading shopping times is another way to get around leaving the kids only. I remember when I first left my oldest in charge for a short trip to the store. I panicked the whole time I was gone LOL. Just remembering what your kids can handle, know matter how old they are, is important.

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