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

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#1 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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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...

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#3 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#4 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 05:20 PM
 
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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

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#5 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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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.

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#6 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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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.
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#7 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 07:16 PM
 
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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.

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#8 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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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.

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#9 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 07:56 PM
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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.

 
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#10 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 08:04 PM
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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.
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#11 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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When the oldest was 16, I'd consider it, based on their dynamics together alone.
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#12 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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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.
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#13 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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Quote:
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.
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#14 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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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!
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#15 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input. This hypothetical situation is years into the future and only one of several options.
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#16 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 09:52 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 10:35 PM
 
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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.
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#18 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 11:17 PM
 
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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.

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#19 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 11:23 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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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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#21 of 71 Old 10-14-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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At those ages I might. But if any part of it didn't feel OK to me I'd figure something else out.

I have an aunt who's children are 14, 12 and 6 and all three are boys. During the summer they would commonly be home all day together while both parents worked, and they did alright. They are public schooled though, and I doubt any school work would have gotten done during that time if they had it, but your kids might be different.

Here a 14 year old is old enough to legally babysit and they even have classes at the high school. 12 is old enough to be a latchkey kid and most daycares don't take kids anymore in 6th grade. I seriously doubt anybody would legally be able to get you in trouble for your 10 year old being home with the older two if 14 is babysitting age in your neighborhood, but check your local laws. It doesn't mean no one might complain, but as long as you work with them to get through their classwork when you get home, I can't see how they'd actually get anywhere with it. (plus you probably don't want to advertise the fact that they are there alone anyway)
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#22 of 71 Old 10-15-2010, 08:01 AM
 
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Well this is something that we've discussed in our house as well. Though it wouldn't be for years based upon my kids ages. Looking at your career field, would it be possible to have irregular hours? Maybe college counseling in evening hours? Maybe the kids could get active in a boys or girls club or other after school activity. That would significantly reduce the amount of time they were left to their own devices and fill the social time void that I have feared would occur with my own children being home alone. We spend so much time out and about during the day, I would feel a bad for my littles if they were house bound for 30s a week. And yes I realize that school kids are bound to the school but it's different.

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#23 of 71 Old 10-15-2010, 09:58 AM
 
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i'm not sure. it definitely depends on the child. my kids are only 9 & 6 though...so it's hard for me to even imagine leaving them alone for 20 minutes, let alone all day.

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#24 of 71 Old 10-15-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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I was a latchkey kid (with grandma nearby and around some) from 8-10 and again from 14-18 and while I begged for it then, I now think it was one of the worst things about my entire childhood. I believe it affected me in innumerable negative ways. I was an only child, I know that was part of it, but not all by any means.

I firmly believe that everyone (but especially children and adolescence) NEED a strong community on a daily basis and that it needs to include at least one adult that the kids are connected to and trust.

Like there is more to being truly healthy than just 'not being sick' there is more to well-being than just being physically 'safe'.
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#25 of 71 Old 10-15-2010, 01:20 PM
 
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Your kids sound very mature. Their proposal to do online schooling so that they can continue to homeschool while you work could be a good idea.

Depending on the children, and their behavior and maturity level, I would consider letting them try it for a few months and then reevaluating.

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#26 of 71 Old 10-15-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Be OK with alternative sleep schedule. We had to start at slightly younger age than your oldest, with our children. Staying up late and night and sleeping in during the day solved a lot of problems.

I will admit it was hard at times because it meant coming home to a lot of stuff to do with the kids but it was doable and worth it. We had clear rules and expectations. They knew what would happen if they didn't do it.

Each child is responsible for themselves. If the 10 year old misbehaves it is the 10 year old's fault. Clear rules. Easy to cook and share foods. If your 10 year old cannot cook, that needs to be something they learn to do.
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#27 of 71 Old 10-16-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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I am very surprised at the responses that seemed to say that they would probably need supervision at 10, 12 and 14. Obviously if they enroll in online school and don't get it done then they need to do something else. I would think they would want to get it done so that they could do more fun things after mom and the car gets home.
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#28 of 71 Old 10-16-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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Personally I'd stay home with them until they were adults.

If I was considering going back to work while HSing then these are the things I'd consider:

It would depend on state law on leaving children home alone ( I think some states have minimum ages that kids can be left alone) and also on the state HSing laws, plus a whole host of things about the children themselves. How well do they get along with each other without parental supervision, do they have the personal motivation to actually learn on their own ect?

In reality though, unless the kids were above the states age of compulsory education I probably wouldn't do it at all. What is your plan when the neighbors see that you are leaving the house every day and gone for hours at a time while your kids are supposed to be HS'd and they report you to CPS or the school district? Because it could happen and I doubt CPS is going to think it's all cool.
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#29 of 71 Old 10-16-2010, 06:06 PM
 
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I don't even think of it as a safety issue. They would probably be fine, and the safety thing wasn't even on my radar when I answered. I just think it would be incredibly unfair to confine them to the house all day alone with no chances to leave, interact with other kids, participate in classes or events, go to museums.

Sure, some kids are stuck doing that during the summer and school vacations while their parents work... but I think most parents would really rather do anything but.

I also agree that it might depend on the state, but I can't possibly imagine that the local school board and CPS's definition of "homeschooling" includes leaving the kids alone all day every day. Because 30 hours a week, not including commute time, is pretty much that.

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#30 of 71 Old 10-16-2010, 10:05 PM
 
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I think after reading the last two responces I'm missing a couple of things:

1) Is there something about the OP that indicated she's capable of educational neglect? I mean...I realise I try to see the best in everybody, but I just assumed that if her children didn't get their work done in the 6 hours she was at work, that she would make sure they did during the 10 hours she was home and awake with them (and that's assuming 8 hours of sleep) as well as during the weekend if needed. My kids are both homeschooled now and some days we don't even do 2 hours of things I need to be fully participating in hands-on and I know for a fact that I meet all educational requirements for my state and that my kids are getting an excellent education. They are very loved and supported but they've never asked to be sitting on my lap while they play an alphabet game on the computer or draw a complicated diagram for a science project and my oldest isn't even 10.

2) Is there a homeschooling law that I am unaware of that requires "schooling" to take place during normal work or school hours? Maybe it's not that you think she's a negligent parent, maybe there's just some actual barrier to teaching in the afternoon instead of the early morning that I have overlooked that would actually get her in trouble with CPS?
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