I don’t know how single parents do it…I honestly don’t. I’m married with two kids, and there are some days when I don’t know how my wife and I both do it…together! I can’t even imagine the amount of work, sacrifice, and dedication it takes for one parent to raise a child (or more than one), earn a living, make sure the child is well-educated, take the child from place to place, cook, clean, do laundry…you can keep adding to the list. But to do all of that on top of homeschooling? That’s some serious superhero stuff.
But it can be done. I know because I talked to one brave super-mom who does it all. It may not be through the most conventional methods, but she gets the job done–and she does it quite well. Her name is Celine Poraksa, she lives in Thailand (you may have seen her name in our Homeschooling in Thailand blog), and she does all of the above while making sure her 7-year-old daughter Arin gets a great education. (Arin is a Bridgeway student and a superstar in her own right…keep reading to see why.)
Meet Celine, single working mom/homeschooler
Celine is like most other single working parents in many ways. She has a full-time job to support both her and Arin, she handles things at home, she makes sure Arin is fed and clothed and sheltered. But Celine also does something that most single working parents don’t–she homeschools.
If she lived in America or perhaps another country, things might not be quite as challenging as they are for Celine, because she could simply send her to public school. However, that’s not an ideal option for Celine, as Thailand’s public school system is considered one of the world’s worst. In fact, when asked about what she found lacking in Thailand’s education system, Celine simply answered, “Everything.”
She looked at international schools, which she considered a solid option, but most were cost-prohibitive. The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of concern and frustration as Celine was exploring school options for Arin. “When the pandemic entered Thailand, I was sure it would last for years and every school would announce closures later,” said Celine. “Even though schools could open, the students could not return to school for long. I did not want to send her there and pull her back home during the year. So, I thought homeschooling would be the best option for me and my daughter.”
After much research, Celine chose Bridgeway Academy for Arin, partly because it was within her budget and offered the accredited international curricula that she was seeking. But also because it was perfect for Arin.
“Bridgeway offers just about everything I was looking for, such as international curriculums with accreditation and all-in-one service,” Celine commented. “The most important factor is the child-friendly learning platform. The platform is very easy to use for a 6-year-old kid (Arin is now 7). She just follows the instructions in the BLC (Bridgeway Learning Center).”
The learning platform and ease of use were two major considerations for Celine and Arin. Let’s find out why.
Meet Arin, 7-year-old Bridgeway homeschooler
Arin is not your typical homeschooled child, because Celine and Arin are not your typical homeschool family. With Celine’s demanding work schedule, Arin has learned to be quite self-reliant and independent. Celine described Arin’s typical school day, which probably doesn’t look like many other homeschoolers’ routines.
- Arin’s school day runs from 9 am to 2 pm, with breaks worked in. While Celine set up Arin’s schedule last year, she’s giving Arin more responsibility this school year; she’s in charge of her own schedule and studying space. Celine said that Arin generally spends 25 minutes on each subject.
- Each evening, once she’s done work, Celine previews Arin’s work and leaves her instructions on sticky notes attached to each book Arin uses. Arin then follows those instructions the next day.
- If Arin runs into a problem she needs to solve right away, she sends a text message to Celine, who can usually answer it quickly. If Arin isn’t fully grasping a lesson, she will write her questions down so Celine can listen to Arin explain it and help her that evening.
- Once her school day is complete, Arin is free to play. Celine says she enjoys arts and crafts, drawing, inventing, and just running around and having fun. She even took a taekwondo class with friends during last school year, which Celine said she loved. And they also plan learning activities, like fun games and field trips, almost every weekend.
It’s a fascinating system that has proven to be quite successful for both Arin and Celine, though this method is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. But that’s one of the beauties of homeschooling…each child is different, so each child learns differently. Knowing that Arin is a very self-sufficient, independent learner allowed Celine to put together a school day routine that works well for both of them.
Making it work
When asked how she manages to juggle all of the responsibilities of being a single homeschooling parent, Celine joked, “Spend less time on the phone, more time on homeschooling.”
She then detailed her routine, which involves a lot of planning and oversight on her part so that Arin can easily execute that plan the following day.
“I make weekly plans, thanks to the activity schedule in the BLC. I have actually read a lot of tips and resources on teaching and learning styles there and applied them with my daughter. They are very helpful.”
And while these plans put Arin on the right path each day, it’s ultimately up to her to figure it all out. Fortunately, Arin possesses skills and tech-savvy that some children her age might not. “I taught her how to download files, save and print documents, as well as solve basic IT and Zoom problems. I also installed the Teamviewer program to be able to remotely check when she needs help.”
That’s pretty impressive for a 7-year-old…but Arin is still, well, a 7-year-old, which means she’s inevitably going to run into some problems. That’s where Celine comes in to save the day. “I review the lessons that she struggles with every evening,” she explains.
Evenings aren’t always about solving problems, however. In fact, Celine enjoys that part of her day the most, when she talks to Arin about her school day and plans the next one. “I love when she shares with me what she’s learned during the day. Her eyes are sparkling when she’s explaining it all,” Celine says. “I also love looking into the details of what she will be studying the next day and enjoy jotting them down on the sticky notes.”
Taking on the challenges of homeschooling as a single mom (with a little help from Bridgeway Academy)
Understandably, Celine found homeschooling to be a tough task initially. It’s a rather significant lifestyle change, and one that involves establishing a routine…something that takes some time to figure out. “The transition from school to homeschooling took about a few weeks for us,” explained Celine. “For me, it is like I have to set my own homeschooling strategies and use the right mechanics to be successful. It’s all about the management.”
Going with Bridgeway helped Celine manage everything involved with Arin’s education, but she was also searching for a homeschool academy that was designed for students–not parents. For Celine, Bridgeway fit the bill. “I found that some learning platforms of other academies are designed for the parents rather than the students,” said Celine. “For us, Total Care was the right program since it is well designed for self-paced learning. The instructions and messages convey well to the learners, not the parents.”
Of course, as with any Bridgeway Academy family, there is plenty of support to help both students and parents. “Bridgeway makes homeschooling possible for me,” explained Celine. “My responsibility is to keep her on track and support her. Since everything is well organized, Arin can easily follow the instructions and study independently.
“And the academic advisors also support us whenever we need them,” Celine continued. “Arin has a regular meeting with her advisor and she loves her so much. Having an expert homeschooling advisor helps us feel confident that we are not alone.”
A gifted child such as Arin certainly helps make the entire process that much smoother, a notion that is not lost on Celine. “Arin is always enthusiastic about learning new things,” Celine said. “She grabs things and creatively applies them very quickly.” It’s safe to say that Arin has made Celine quite proud–and understandably so. It’s not every day a 7-year-old has the maturity, intelligence, and self-sufficiency to navigate through each school day independently.
“I truly admire her self-discipline and responsibility for learning,” explained Celine. “It’s very difficult for young students to do self-paced learning without guidance, but she’s completed her tasks well and has fully understood what she’s learned during the past school year. Perfect grades and honor rolls are simply the evidence of her hard work. She’s proved that I made the right decision.”
Words of advice
The prospect of homeschooling as a single working parent can be a daunting one. Ultimately, each family has to find its own approach–sometimes through trial and error–in order to make it all work. What sounds perfect for one family may not work for another. Through hard work and an organized routine, Celine and Arin have found their groove and are loving the homeschooling experience.
So, although Celine’s and Arin’s homeschool experience might be unique, there is still wisdom to be gained by other single working parents in similar situations. “It seems difficult to start but it is possible [to homeschool as a single working parent],” said Celine. “Stay positive, open-minded, and supportive.
If homeschool sounds right for your children, just do it! Find the right ways for your family and the right person or academy who can help.”
And for any single parents out there reading this, Celine wants you to remember: “Single parents are good at multitasking. Just add homeschooling to your task list and make it happen.”