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unschooling and single parenting-help please

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have a 6 year old DS that I in unschooling and a 2 year old DD. My marriage is about done. In fact the only reason I am still married is because I really want to homeschool my kids. My DS has sensory processing disorder, some aspergers traits and is quite gifted. I don't want him in school b/c I know that it will be a disaster for him. He is doing so well unschooling, so curious and learning so much.

But I don't know what to do. My marriage is done. It's over. I can't live in the situation much longer. I've been a stay at home mom since my son was born. I don't know how to find a job that I can still manage to homeschool. I am worried that if my husband decides that the kids should be in school, that a court will force this. My husband wavers on whether he supports homeschooling or not.

Any advice? Fabulous work from home opportunities? I have worked very part time tutoring math/science to high school students but I don't know if I can find enough work to support myself and the kids. I have my bachelors in biology but not a lot of work experience, I got married and had the kids and pretty much stayed home.

Thank you for your support
post #2 of 8
HI, Im a single mom and my son is 10. Here is what I do.
He goes to a sitters and I work. yes there are in home providers who take older kids, you just gotta look for them. Acutally mine adores my DS because he can 'help' her.
We basically have homeschooled/unschooled all along. Right now I am a sub for the local school district and my schedule is flexible, meaning if I need a day off, I just dont take a job that day. The pay is NOT great by any means but it does pay the basic bills. In the past I worked as a banker in a call center and the pay was MUCH much better but I hated call centers and had a mental breakdown due to the micro managing of the workplace. (but thats how call centers are).

My son does activites on the weekends and a couple afternoons a month. The weather is just getting nice here and he is looking forward to the park and being outside again. (we live where it is very hot most of the time)
post #3 of 8
Don't be embarrassed to apply for food "stamps", WIC and medicaid for the kids. These programs can take a bit of pride out of you to apply for if you have never been on public aid but your situation is what the programs are out there for. With a 2 yr old, if you have only a low income, you will qualify. Look them up for your state -most have a website that can help you become more comfortable.

Stay with keeping your son at home as long as possible. I have a nephew with aspergers. He is very gifted, scoring in the 99th percentile in math and the 95th in reading but he would have done so much better emotionally and in learning to make life choices if he had stayed home. A big part of that syndrome is teaching black and white rules and consequences of those rules and the results of breaking them. So much better to have momma and family who loves him teach this rather than school peers.

As to whether a court would insist on school, in my experience as a child advocate attorney, if you have documentation of what your son is learning, you are much better off. A court will not get the concept of unschooling at all and would most definitely insist on public school if you try to go there with them. It may be that in this case a bit of compromise is best for your son.

I would suggest unit studies on what ever he is most in to. For instance, my ds who is 7 yrs loves lizards right now. We are looking up the different types of them, learning terms, habitat, diet, lots of science/biology info because he is curious about them. It would be easy to figure out a way to document this type of learning - writing out the words, a picture collage, video documentation of him pointing out the lizards and explaining the differences, taking a field trip to the country or the pet store and so on. Document what your son is curious about and what he is learning. Be creative and be able to show both DH and a court that he is learning. Having your degree in biology is a very good thing, show yourself using it for your son.

I would also encourage participating in a homeschooling group or perhaps a church children's group. Not that I think they are needed but our society has a perception that children need "socialization" with other kids. I have strong feelings otherwise but IRL chances are a court will appreciate seeing that the children are not isolated.
post #4 of 8
I was a single unschooling mama for 7 yrs, until just last month. I mostly found jobs I could work from home or take the kids with. I did private tutoring, worked in after school programs, a preschool when they were little, drove a school bus (that paid nicely, had benefits, kids were welcome, and lots of opportunities for overtime. highly recommend it), and eventually settled into something that took advantage of my talents. My talents lay in research and writing, personally. I was able to eek out enough to pay the bills for years, by explaining confusing subjects in lay terms. lol Do *something* to get by for sure, but keep your eye out for that unique opportunity too, you know?

Also, there is no shame in taking help when you need it! Food stamps, WIC, rent assistance, utility assistance, visiting local food pantries, toys for tots, call around the local charities and see who has programs where you can get clothes for the kids and yourself or furniture or whatever else you need. This is the season when charities are actually helping people...take it while it's there!

As for court...they SHOULDN'T order the kid in school if you are meeting state guidelines...but if dad asks them to, that's a good enough reason for them. The court will, as a standard, prefer the child be in school. School is a government facility. Plain and simple, any government agency is going to push for more government control whenever possible, whether we're talking about how you drive or how you live. What you want to do is keep your x from feeling like it's worth taking you to court over. I unschooled, but put together very official looking report cards for my xh, and had the kids take CAT5 (California Achievement Test, even before we lived in CA. It's the most widely accepted in the nation) every year. The first few years, I picked up a copy of the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence. Once a month or so, I checked off what they'd mastered. Then, each quarter, I figured a percentage. (3/10 checked is 120% of the 2.5/10 they "should" know at the end of first quarter, for example.) We were year round. Quarters were just by the season. Easy to remember, and standard. I REALLY like the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence (that's way dif than the What Your __th Grader Needs to Know books, btw. It's just a list of things they "should" know by subject and grade level)...anyway, I love it for younger levels. They have one book for preschool, and one for K-8. The preschool one is basically just developmental milestones. Awesome for "proving" to xh how well your methods work the first few years and getting him on board with your ideas...because all you have to do is give your kid the opportunity to show he can do something...(clap to the beat of a song? cut with scissors! lol). Xh sees a big book with an overwhelming list of achievements, and things getting checked off and sure enough the kid can do those things! He gets a report card, which is reassuring and makes your choices feel less different and unknown. Part of being a single mom is often learning how to manage the x, so his issues don't foul up how the kids get raised. I found reporting to be a preferable compromise to any form of forced education. Plus, if you keep giving him all those official looking test results and records and things, he's more likely to think he won't have a leg to stand on in court...so less likely to go there.
post #5 of 8
It's a pretty tough situation you're in, and one all stay-home unschooling mums likely fear.

I think the advice about accumulating enough "official looking" documents to make it look like your child is meeting state requirements, etc. is very good advice. The more papers and numbers you can throw at it the better.

I realize this may be uncomfortable as an unschooler, it would be for me too, but if it meant the difference between being able to continue unschooling or having them ordered to go to school, I'd do it.

Of course, there is also the issue of whether you will be able to provide for them while homeschooling, and you may lose out on that point. I'm not sure a court is going to support you homeschooling if it means you have to go on welfare to do it. You'll have to have a clear plan to lay out to them regarding how long you will work, who will care for your child during that time (and how you'll afford to pay for that), and how many hours will be left for "schooling" (which, in the mainstream world, is expected to be what school kids get, which I think is about 30 hrs per week).
post #6 of 8
hugs to you mama!! I was single parent unschooling for 2 years, just until a couple months ago, and still kind of feel like I am, since my new partner is just starting a new business so I'm still covering all my bills. I can't give much advice on the xh thing, since I spent all my savings to hire a lawyer in the divorce and had her make sure I got full rights over their education. xh is a deadbeat dad, chose not to hire a lawyer to look over paperwork and after the divorce, it took him a while to actually read the papers, and of course he got upset about it, but I really don't care! I'm looking out for my kids here!!!

As for income, yes, we do medicaid for kids health insurance and food stamps. My biggest income for quite a while was running a daycare out of my home. That REALLY helped and was fun for the kids to have playmates. Though as the kids grew, it became more of an inconvenience, so I just stopped doing that a couple months ago (the kids are 10 and 7 now). I used to sell on ebay part-time, now I sell full-time, mostly boutique children's and womens clothes that I find at thrift stores, and also things on consignment. I also do dog-sitting, some mending/altering work, online surveys. You'll also be getting child support, and possibly alimony to help out.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all the ideas and support. It feels good to know that other moms have done this and been successful at it. I know that we will make it, I'm a survivor, but it really is scary at the beginning. I know I could find decent paying full time work but I just can't put my kids in school and daycare full time and feel good at all about that. I just want to be sure to have food on the table and a warm safe home.

Good idea about documenting the "school" work. Very hard for me to do but I will do it for DS. I'm lucky, academically he's quite advanced, socially and emotionally he's a bit behind. Of course I'm sure that I'll get no credit for the academics and chastized for the social skills. Does working for an hour every day practicing how to ask for things politely count? B/c we really do social skills this way. DS responses well, we make it a game and he has made a ton of progress from where he was, but we're not there all the way yet by any means.

This is getting to be rambling. Sorry. Thanks for the support, it means so much!
post #8 of 8

When documenting unschooling, I've always worried much less about documenting what we do...and more about documenting the results. "We work his academics so thouroughly into our lives that we do it here and there all throughout the day, every day. See how well he acheives?" It implies you really work with him ALL the time...but you don't need to bother with all that darned WORK.

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