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Home educating an only child as a single mum

(10 Posts)
Sparklypinknails Sun 19-May-13 20:25:00

Hi all!

I've been looking into this ever since dd was born and know that I would like to home educate. When I originally decided this, I had a dp who was all for it and was going to work while I did the educating side of things for dd and the imaginary future children. As it is, he is long gone and its just me and dd now.

Would it be cruel to home educate now that she will be an only child (so no siblings at home to keep her company) and there's only me? I've done my research and I know there's tons of opportunities for socialising but I imagine there will still be quite a bit of time where its just us two and its making me have doubts.

I'm concerned too about whether ill manage it financially now that dp isn't involved. I figured I could work part time while she's young and try and find a childminder who will look after school age children or work weekends and see if my dad would babysit too. Or if I work something out, I could be self employed and squidge it around her sleeping and spending time with family?

Does it sound doable? One thing that's upset me or worrying me is, I read a home ed topic on another forum and someone said something along the lines of what if a single parent home educating died and the child was chucked into school out of nowhere. I know I can't live everyday holding back just in case I die but its really made me sad and think maybe that would be cruel of me

I know I'm thinking very far ahead considering she's only one and a half but its on my mind so I thought I'd post smile and sorry for long ramble!

Fairygen Sun 19-May-13 21:03:00

I am a single mum home educating dd (14yo) for 2 years.

I won't lie, it hasn't been a total walk in the park, nor a disaster.

Financially, you will get child tax credits ( aprox £60 p/w), if your child is under 7 you can claim income support. When over 7 it gets a bit more difficult. If you can be available for 16 hrs or more work a week, you can claim job seekers allowance.( aprox £70 p/w) I'm claiming because I can work evenings and weekends. Finding a job is near impossible. If you're not available for work, you can't claim anything!
Once you have JSA sorted you can claim housing and council tax benefit.
Also, best to get maintenance sorted ASAP, if not already.

I gave up my job to HE, so it has been a bit of a financial shock, but can be done. At the mo HE children can't get any funding for equipment

Exams ( I know a long way off for you) have also been a nightmare because a lot of schools in my area don't/ won't take private candidates. Although, you don't have to follow the national curriculum, or take exams.

All in all, it has been a learning curve for both of us. At times I have felt alienated, and lonely. We have argued due to dd lack of motivation and attitude some days, but the whole experience has brought us really close.

I worry about the future, but what mum doesn't

If you google education otherwise, they are really helpful

apatchylass Sun 19-May-13 21:06:08

I don't HE but many of my close friends do. It is possible and you seem very aware of the pitfalls of isolation. IMHO, it could be too isolating for both of you. Early years schooling is crucial to social development as well as to academic.

What are your reasons for wanting to home school? Can you look for a school that might meet your needs? HE for a single parent and child may make your daughter overly dependent on you, unable to evaluate her own opinions and develop the necessary social skills to handle other people behaving differently or having different values from the ones she's learned at home.

But there are ways round this, if you set your mind to them. Do something each day that involves interaction elsewhere, from social HE groups to Brownies, church, going swimming, to dance or drama groups etc. Invite children she meets there over to tea once a week and for sleepovers once or twice a term.

And what about your needs? You too will want and need some adult interaction and down time every day. Groups like Messy Church allow the adults to congregate while the children do activities. Or perhaps you could arrange for her to go to a dance class with the child of one of your friends so the two of you get to catch up over a coffee.

Sparklypinknails Sun 19-May-13 22:08:58

Thank you for the replies smile

I had forgotten about JSA fairygen! I was imagining a no mans land between IS and work but that would help while I looked for a job. What made you decide to HE if you don't mind me asking?

Apatchy, the main reasons for wanting to HE is the behaviour of (some) teachers that I have seen. I've volunteered in schools before and also started a primary PGCE and I was shocked by the way some of the teachers behaved to and about the children. Mocking them in the staff room, making fun of their families for being overweight or on benefits, sighing and eye rolling at them when they asked a question. One that really tugged my heart strings was at the Christmas party, one of the boys brought in chocolate spread sandwiches and said to the teacher that he loved choc-choc sandwiches. When he was out of earshot, she said "fucking choc-choc?! He needs to grow up!". He was 5 years old :/ The same teacher also told me I wouldn't like a particular 5 year old and when I asked why, it was because she was "fat" and "dirty" and "wait til you see her parents!". I just don't like the idea of dd being taught by someone like that and picking up on that and feeling bad about herself.

Also, I left the PGCE for health reasons and was mocked on FB by some of the other student teachers for my health problems and other stuff. These same students made fun of children from benefit families and other things when we came back off placements. They are all teaching in my city now!

I know its not all teachers though and I met some really nice ones too (and there's probably far more great teachers than nasty ones) but it opened my eyes to the fact that there's nasty people in every job and my dd might end up with someone like that as a teacher. I was treated quite badly by a couple of teachers growing up and my confidence was shattered for a long time. I know its projecting a bit but I don't want that for dd.

There's other reasons too like wanting her to learn more freely and not in hour sections with an intro and plenary etc. Or worksheet after worksheet after worksheet (again, not that all teachers do that!) type activities. I like the idea of learning through real life type things. My aunt home educates that way. I'm thinking of asking her advice too but I'm wary of it getting back to my mum as she works in a school and is very anti HE.

Thank you for the socialising ideas as well. I'm so wary of making her into a carbon copy of me so would want her to experience lots of different social situations and people.

Argh, reading that back I sound very cotton wool helicopter parenty but I'm really not, promise!

maggi Mon 20-May-13 06:32:20

Have you considered becoming a childminder? You would work from home and have other children around to act as 'siblings' for yours.
It takes around 6 months to qualify and there are some grants to help you set up. Then you'd be self employed and can chose your hours and how busy you'd like to be. But be aware, whilst I love childminding, it will only cover your costs and you will prob still qualify for some benefits.

Saracen Mon 20-May-13 07:55:09

Hi Sparkly!

I don't think it is too early at all to start thinking about home education. The thing is, parents who are planning to send their children to school at the age of four often feel it could be a good idea to send them to nursery the year before to get them ready for school. Many parents even feel under such pressure that they feel they must send the child to nursery when the child doesn't want to go, out of fear that if the child doesn't get practice at being in a school-like environment then starting school next year will be even harder. And even earlier, when the child is two they feel the clock is ticking to get the child toilet trained or able to separate easily from parents or able to speak clearly and confidently in readiness for starting nursery. It's a stressful treadmill, but it's one you can step off if you expect home ed (or at least a later school start) to be an option for your child. In this case you can afford to let your child take things at her own pace. Some families who are planning to HE do use nursery, but that can be a very different experience for you if you're choosing to do it because you think your child will like it rather than because you "have to". So, even though school (or otherwise) is a distant glint on the horizon right now, the whole preparing-for-school process is looming. (Personally, I don't think that children who are going to school necessarily need nursery beforehand anyway, but it seems that most people believe they do.)

My older dd was an only child until she was seven. I didn't find this an obstacle at all. It just meant I made extra efforts to get her together with other children, especially because she had a very strong social drive. We are lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of HE children and we were constantly borrowing one another's children for an afternoon or a day. That gave me a nice break too, not only when my dd was off with other people but also when her friends came round and they disappeared off to another room for long stretches. My younger child is a different character and is very happy to spend much of her time pottering contentedly around the house on her own. Proof that children don't all need the same things!

If you find the idea of home education appealing, I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work for you and your child!

HerrenaHarridan Mon 20-May-13 08:21:21

Whereabouts are you op?

I could have written that ( bar the bit about you aunt and mother)

Dd is 16 mo and I am adamant I want to he but single mother/ only child. What about money.

In edinburgh (where I am) there is a fairly active home ed network, many of the parents involved run their own businesses, sometimes involving their children where appropriate,
If you run a small business that doesn't earn a fortune you are can claim working tax credits alongside child tax credits/benefit and housing benefit/council tax benefit.

one parent i know has the sweetest little office with two desks etc and when se needs to put in at the desk time she sets ds up with an activity (more and more he can do that himself) and they work opposite each other.
Whenever he needs help/encouragement/reinforcement she is there. He is currently working on a comic strip with every spare moment.

Another woman I know takes her daughter to the (utterly enormous, I mean as long as the street!) museum and as soon as she walk into any of the sections she can tell you what has changed since the last time she was there.

I believe kids have so much more potential that school are able to fulfil in its standardised education but I worry that she would get sick of the sight of me sad

apatchylass Mon 20-May-13 11:10:22

Sparkly I don't think you sound like a helicopter parent. Those are all very valid reasons. I have a lot of respect for HEs as I too have felt extremely disaffected by school life - both as a pupil and witnessing how school has dealt with my own children and their peers.

But, as you say, there are unpleasant judgemental people everywhere and the best thing you can do for your daughter is to teach her how to spot them, handle them and not let them diminish her. To do this, she needs practise with them.

Whilst we don't HE, I do an awful lot of things with DC that HE families do - lots of museum and gallery trips, workshops on fun things, craft and science activities at home, reading aloud together.

Something interesting happened with DS2. He had a teacher who hated him. She was pretty open about it, even to me. I left parents' evening in tears. She was and is a cruel, unpleasant woman. She targeted one or two boys a year and DS2 was her chosen child that year. He has now forgotten how miserable she made him. How long faced and frightened of school he was that year. How he had physical symptoms of stress (as did I). What he got from her was that in his desire to please the old witch he moved from bottom of the class to near the top and has stayed there ever since. She never rated him, always scorned him and dismissed his efforts. But the following year, a fresh teacher saw what he had done in order to try and win her approval and was so complimentary about his ability.

So... I've felt over-protective in the past but with long sight, can admit that even the nasty teachers have helped my DC along the way to stand up for themselves.

(Incidentally DS1 also had this teacher and was severely bullied in her class by her favourite child.) As the bullying escalated, he ended up doing martial arts to protect himself. He once, just once in all those years, hit the bully back, with his martial art prowess and has never been touched by him again. DS1 ended up getting into the secondary school the bully had set his heart on but didn't make the grade, and DS 1 is also now a brown belt.

Long winded way of saying - we don't have to be there 24/7, or to be the sole influence in our DCs lives to help them cope. Protecting them in the short term may not help them in the long term. One day they'll be out there in the world rubbing up alongside with people who are physically, mentally and emotionally damaging as well as kindhearted, strong minded lovely people.

FionaJNicholson Mon 20-May-13 20:02:12


Best thing is to join the single parent yahoo list where we talk about this kind of stuff a lot (actually we talk more about financial stuff than hypothetically lonely singletons, though some of us do have singletons)

The fact that your daughter would no longer be able to be home educated if you died, is IMO not a reason not to home educate. (And actually if you were in a supportive local home education community it might not even be true)

Sparklypinknails Tue 21-May-13 20:35:56

Hiya, thanks for more replies!

I did think about childminding, maggi. It would be perfect because I've worked with younger children before and loved it but I live in rented accommodation (and will be for a long time probably) and it seems a bit hit and miss as to whether you can do childminding from a rented place. Its a shame because its something I know I'd love and be good at.

That's so true about the preparing for school time looming and the pressure, Saracen. I'm already feeling the pressure from my mum about sending dd to preschool as soon as she's old enough to make sure she's ready for school and so she gets practice wearing a uniform and following rules in a group etc. It seems so young to me though!

I'm in Cheshire, Herrena. I worry too that dd will get sick of the sight of me! I'm hoping to move to where I grew up in the near future because there's things like museums and art galleries and transport links to some interesting places like beaches and stuff. If I stay here I will 100% need to learn to drive (which is too expensive right now). There's a lot of nature type stuff here though which is nice. Thinking about it id probably need to be able to drive to do the social side of things here too :/

That's a really good point apatchy and definitely got me thinking! I do worry though that dd could hit an unlucky streak with teachers like I did and be affected in similar ways. She could be like my sister though and be a water off a ducks back type person. Its hard to decide what's best because I agree that one day she will eventually be treated badly by someone but I'm afraid of that first bad egg being someone who is trusted with her for 30 hours a week. I love the way your dcs used that horrible treatment to develop something positive though.

Thanks for the link, Fiona. Ill go have a nosy! And I suppose that fear would be a bit of a weird reason to not HE because I wouldn't let that stop us doing other things!

Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences of HE too smile

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