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At what age would you leave homeschoolers alone, if you had to work?

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
Say you're a single parent who has been homeschooling from day 1, and you have just completed your own education. You now need and want to work out of the home. Your kids are now 14, 12, and 10 and have never been in school, but have explored online schools in the past. They do not want to attend school now and suggest to you that they join an online school and do their lessons at home while you work. What do you do? Do you leave them at home while you work? If not, at what age would that be an option? (Assume childcare swaps and the like are not an option--you're on your own.)

eta: Assume a 30-hour work week.
post #2 of 71
An 8+ hour plus day alone?
16. Or an advanced high schooler.

I think a 14, 12 and 10 year old would be fine for a few hours a day. But I wouldn't expect them to do their schooling while I was working a full day. Plus that would also put a LOT of stress on you to do all the grading/review in the evenings, while cooking/cleaning and prepping for the next day. DS1 is self motivated but no way could he stay on task and do a full day school by himself.

Could you work nights? Maybe leave in the evenings so they are sleeping during part of your shift? That depends on what your career is though...
post #3 of 71
Thread Starter 
I edited the OP to reflect a 30-hr work week. Working nights is not an option.

Occupation: counselor, either community counseling or school counseling, to be determined.
post #4 of 71
our older kids were staying athome by themselves significantly earlier than that for short periods of time, and by those ages, could be on their own for the time you describe. i think it's all personality.
I think that while they might be able to do their work while you are at work, i would also plan that that wont necesarily happen...i think you should expect to spedna maybe half of your non working hours still homeschooling them, helping them with stuff they didnt understand, checking over their work, talking, field trips, etc.

Have you prepared them for staying at home alone? can they fix simple meals, do they understand door/stranger/phone policies? Do you have specific limits about leaving the house, going outside to play, going to the library, etc?

With a 14 yo in the mix, i dont believe any state would have issues, from a legal standpoint that is certainly old enough to be a "babysitter".

My view is a tad jaded, due to a decade of working with teen moms, I see 14-15 yo's all the time who literally, are PARENTS. Most people can rise to the bar set for them, and the expectations required of them, most of the time.

I think it certainly can work
post #5 of 71
I guess I would feel comfortable leaving the kids home for the day. I just wouldn't expect much school to get done. Do they help each other with their work? Will the 14yo help the 10th with their math?
I would expect to do a fair amount of school with them in the evenings.

But like the PP said, kids can rise to an occasion and only you know your kids.
post #6 of 71
I would definitely do it, with those age children, if the eldest were very responsible and I knew it was legal. Could a person get in trouble for leaving kids that age alone for the whole work day? I often leave my 14 yr old son in charge of his 5 younger siblings but never for more than 2 hours, and I call home every 20 minutes.
post #7 of 71
By 10, I stayed at home with my sister (who was 2) all day while my mom worked. While I probably wouldn't do that with my kids (though nothing ever happened to us during the times we were alone), I definitely wouldn't have a problem with leaving a 10YO with a 12YO and 14YO unless one of them had significant behavioral or emotional problems that I thought could put them in danger.
post #8 of 71
I think it completely depends on the kids, not their ages (well, unless there are legal requirements on that end).

The dynamics between my three oldest would NOT allow for them to be home alone for very long. They have a very strong power struggle going on. I do leave my 12yo for an hour or so, but I don't see leaving him with his siblings until they're all MUCH, much older.
My second oldest would probably be fine with my youngest in a few more years, but I can't just make the others disappear.

Meanwhile, I was home (during the summer) at 13 with my 10 and 6yo siblings, plus 3 younger cousins, and that was fine.

You know your kids best!
post #9 of 71
I think it would depend on the kid(s). When Rain was 12 she was staying home all day by herself while I subbed at our local school. It actually worked out pretty well, because at that age she tended to stay up late and wake up around 10 am, and I got home by 3:30 or so, so really she was only alone for 5 hours and a bit. We were on a farm, too, which was pretty isolated and safe, and the family that lived in the main farm house was usually home. I had my cell phone, too, and kept it on.

I would worry about them being stuck at home all day, though, if you were working 5 days a week... although 30 hours could be like 8-2, 5 days a week, which would give you a lot of time to go do stuff afterwards.
post #10 of 71
I work about 30-34 hours, most weeks. I felt okay leaving them alone regularly when they were 15 and 12. DS1 is not reckless or destructive, but he was in his own little world until quite recently, and I didn't feel I could count on him to run the show....so I wanted to wait until DS2 was responsible enough to watch out for himself.

We are pretty unschooly, though. I didn't worry too much about getting paperwork done, because we have always done relatively little in the way of book work.

However, I have never been a truly single homeschooling mom. Between the time I divorced their dad and married DH, I always had a roommate of some sort to help with childcare and meals, even if haphazardly.
post #11 of 71
When the oldest was 16, I'd consider it, based on their dynamics together alone.
post #12 of 71
Maybe senior year of high school. If they had their drivers license and were pretty much entirely self-sufficient socially and academically. And I would probably expect them to be out of the house for much of the day, too. Taking classes, working on a "senior project" of some sort, perhaps working a part time job.

But a very important aspect of homeschooling to me is freedom... largely freedom to leave the house and go someplace interesting There's no way I would homeschool if that were not in the cards.
post #13 of 71
Originally Posted by MaWhit View Post
I edited the OP to reflect a 30-hr work week. Working nights is not an option.

Occupation: counselor, either community counseling or school counseling, to be determined.
Well, that work would be more open to you being able to take calls, or better yet, IMs/emails, throughout the day.

If it's possible to have someone closer who could be an emergency number, that'd make me totally okay with the situation if I had kids like yours.
post #14 of 71
Well, for me this question is as much about community as it is about safety, maybe more so.

On a regular basis (like even 10 hours per week) I wouldn't want them without an adult that they trust and value.

For a few hours here or there, it would depend on the children, but when all are old enough that I trust them individually and together.

I am finishing up "Hold on to Your Kids" so I am feeling extra strong about the need for a supportive, guiding adult (to which your kids are attached!) to be nearby, especially for the 10 year old!

So for me--No way!
post #15 of 71
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. This hypothetical situation is years into the future and only one of several options.
post #16 of 71
30 hours a week at those ages, NO WAY. They would not be able to school themselves with the level of education that I would want for my kids, even if they were all doing online courses and even IF they did everything that was expected of them all the time (which I don't believe would actually happen. Even incredibly great and responsible kids are still kids, after all.) And then there are the issues of "field trips", real life learning situations, time with other kids, time exploring the world in a guided way to make it all connect...I don't see how they could really be educated in a well-rounded way under those circumstances.
post #17 of 71
I would feel like the 14 yr old was taking care of the 10 yr old all day.

It would depend, if I really wanted my children away from the public schools (which I do) and I HAD to work outside of the home, then those ages would be ok I guess, just because I have no choice. But otherwise, no, I would not do it. I would be afraid someone would call CPS on us or something. Plus, virtual academies through the state require an adult to be on hand during the day. I don't know if you were planning on public academies or not. I would also be afraid of the scrutiny.
post #18 of 71
Well since I live in a state with no reporting standards for homeschoolers and Im a single working parent who homeschools I face this decision every. single. day.
DS is 10 and we are starting to try this out together. He is capable of being home alone for about 4-5 hrs on his own before he gets 'bored'. He can do his school work and understand and comprehend it on his own. We are unschooling for somethings and online classes for science and math via CTY. We do field trips on the weekends and my days off (im a sub for the local school district).
If I work high school I'm gone 630-230, and if I work K-8 Im usually gone 730-345 (approx).

I would say with in the next year DS will be able to stay home alone for at least 3 days a week on his own.

Again each child is different and totally based on maturity, development and personality.
post #19 of 71
I work half time and my 12 yr old stays home some days but not more than 4 to 5 hours. We PM over the computer and call often. Having our 85 lb Rottweiler cross hanging out with her doesn't hurt either. She works well independently. She does come to work with me on other days and hangs in the break room or at my desk in the lab. It makes me a little nervous sometimes, but she enjoys the independence of being home alone and in charge of her day.
post #20 of 71
If you could work some school time in, ie: homeschool kick off 7-8 am; mom works and kids do independent projects and play together 8am-2pm; 2pm-5pm mom does school and family activities with the kids; 5pm-bedtime regular dinner, etc. routine, I think that could work. Or you could do the bulk of parent-led homeschool on weekends and devote weekdays to more independent study. I would only worry if you think someone would stop by from CPS or truancy or something. That would be hard for a 14 year old to deal with, and they sometimes don't get that you can do homeschooling outside of regular school hours. If they had a neighbor or someone to turn to in case of literal, someone shows up on the porch, issues, that could work.
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