At first glance, the words single parents and homeschool may not seem to fit together. But they do! I know because I’m a single parent and I homeschool. A growing number of single parents are homeschooling or want to. Here are some practical tips for single parents considering homeschooling.

Pray, pray, pray!
Diligently seek God. Homeschooling takes time, energy, and commitment. Your own supply will quickly run dry. You need to know for sure that God wants you to homeschool at this time. Only proceed when you are certain of God’s leading and God’s timing. Ask others to pray with you and for you in seeking God’s will for your family. I had the desire to homeschool for years, but believed it was impossible for a single parent to homeschool. After I met a single mom who was planning to homeschool, and I seriously began praying about it, God opened the door for me. I started homeschooling a few weeks later.

Be who you are.
Your homeschool will be unique because your life situation is unique. You may be able to homeschool one of your children, but not all of them. If God is calling you to homeschool, He will tailor-design your homeschooling experience. Don’t try to model your homeschool after someone else’s style. God has put specific passions and interests in your heart. Build on them.

Know your limits.
Don’t overextend yourself. If you’re going to homeschool, it will need to be a priority. You’ll need time to prepare. You’ll need to say ‘no’ to many other good activities. As a single parent, you need to stay balanced. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself.

Take one year at a time.
Ask God which of your children He wants you to homeschool this year. I knew I couldn’t handle all three of my children when I first started. That year I homeschooled my two older children and the youngest attended public school. The next year I homeschooled two of my children, but a different one went to public school. Each year was unique. Every spring bring all decisions about homeschooling before the Lord. Do You want me to homeschool in the fall? Which children?

If you can only homeschool one child, homeschool the oldest.
I had thought my eighth grader was too old to start homeschooling. This surprising advice, from seasoned homeschooling parents and students, caused me to rethink my options. The oldest is a model that the younger children watch and imitate. Consider homeschooling during junior high and high school. It provides many opportunities to strengthen your relationship during impressionable years.

Get the support you need.
You will need emotional support. There will be days you’ll want to quit. Most homeschooling parents feel this way at times. Be clear in your own mind about why you are homeschooling. That will help you during difficult days. Find out what support groups and co-ops are in your community or church and get involved in one. Learn from others. When I started homeschooling, experienced home educators shared curriculum and catalogs with me, helped me fill out required forms, and cared for my children while I did my initial planning. I couldn’t have gotten started without their practical help and encouragement.

Start with what you have.
Finances are always tight for single parents. The good news is homeschooling doesn’t have to be costly. Start off by experimenting with books you already have. Or borrow books from other families. The public library is a terrific resource, and the librarians enjoy assisting homeschool families. Keep all receipts for school supplies and books you purchase for tax purposes. And remember, much learning takes place beyond books. Think of the people who can be resources for your homeschool.

Have fun together.
Learning happens throughout the day. Take advantage of special opportunities to help someone in need. Look for ways your family can bless others. Enjoy playing together at the park. Join other families for a field trip. Homeschooling is all about relationships.

Be flexible.
God will use homeschooling to readjust your thinking, change your attitudes, and enrich your life. Be open to His leading at all times. I approach each year as possibly the only opportunity I’ll have to homeschool my children. This outlook helps me set priorities in teaching and makes homeschooling a treasured time.

It’s very challenging to homeschool as a single parent. If God is calling you to do it, He will equip you with grace and strength. Trust Him. Let the Holy Spirit be your teacher. Your greatest asset as you begin homeschooling is your heart for your children.

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Linda Joyce Heaner has homeschooled her children for a decade. 'I’m so thankful God opened this door for me. It brought us much closer as a family and gave me a unique opportunity to invest in my children.' You can learn how she started homeschooling in her book, "God, I Need Help" or in the chapter called Homeschooling Single in "Real-Life Homeschooling" (Fireside). You can contact her at linda@abidinghope.com.