Guest post by Sam Bowman.
The choice to homeschool your children is usually something both parents decide together. But, when you’re going through a divorce, you may find yourself at a crossroads when it comes to their education.
The circumstances of your life may change drastically due to a divorce. You might move out of the marital home to a new space, or you might share custody with your ex, which can make it hard to keep a consistent homeschooling schedule. Many times, you might feel like you’re just trying to survive while you go through the emotional rollercoaster of the divorce itself.
The most important thing is to keep things as consistent and “normal” as possible for your children. They should always come first, and that’s something you’ll need to agree upon with your former spouse. So, does that mean you should keep homeschooling? What will it look like, and how can you make it work?
Should You Continue to Homeschool?
One of the first questions you’ll need to ask yourself during a divorce is whether you should keep homeschooling your kids. If you have shared custody with your former spouse, your children will be spending a few days each week with both parents. While divorce isn’t necessarily an emergency situation, you might not be prepared for some of the new challenges in homeschooling, especially if you had to move.
To determine whether continuing to homeschool is a good idea, first look at your space. If you’re in a small apartment or studio, it might be difficult for your children to have an adequate learning space. You can set up a small home office/learning space in underused areas like:
- Under a staircase
- A repurposed closet
- The entryway
But, if your child doesn’t have room for their books, computer, and other supplies, they might get frustrated and distracted, which can defeat the entire purpose.
Additionally, you have to consider your child’s schedule. If they are split between two houses, will they be getting the same type of consistent education? What will their environment be at their other parent’s home? That brings us to our next point about homeschooling through a divorce: agreeing on what the future of your child’s education looks like.
Agreeing On Your Child’s Education
If you agreed on homeschooling with your former spouse before, that doesn’t mean both of you will agree on it now. Your co-parent might not be able to homeschool because of work. Or, perhaps you will have to get a job, too, and won’t be able to educate your children. That leaves you and your former spouse with some big decisions to make. There are a few important questions you both need to discuss:
- What do you want for your child’s education?
- What would most help them to succeed?
- Where would they be happiest?
- Where would they be challenged?
Realistically, you can talk about (and even argue about) curriculum, which books your children should be reading, and extracurricular activities. But, those usually end up being irrelevant arguments that take away from the bigger picture. In fact, by focusing on those smaller issues, it’s easy to let your emotions get in the way. If you’ve decided to keep homeschooling, you will need to agree on what that looks like for years to come.
Keep Your Divorce as a Separate Issue
Speaking of keeping your emotions at bay, make sure you don’t let your divorce cause problems in your homeschooling endeavors. Sometimes, divorcing couples will use things like homeschooling as a form of control. That’s one more distraction and disturbance for your children when they’re already going through so much. It could also cause you to put them into a public school setting, instead. Be sure to consider how all aspects of a change might affect your children.
Your kids are dealing with the divorce just as much as you are. They have to get used to new schedules, not seeing both parents as much as they’re used to, and perhaps even moving somewhere new. Putting them in a public school right away adds another stressor to the situation, and could impact their mental health.
Things can be even harder if you’re just going through a separation and not a divorce. In these cases, agreements over custody might be difficult to come to, so courts may intercede to decide for you. But, it’s still up to you and your co-parent to make the same decisions.
While it’s important to talk to your children about your divorce and reassure them, don’t involve them in any painful emotions or drama. If you and your ex agree to consistently put the children first and put your own feelings aside, you can feel confident in your decisions about their education. You’ll also work harder together to determine whether you should keep homeschooling or make some changes for the future. In the end, it’s your child that should be benefitting from those decisions, but when you work together, everyone involved wins.
More About the Author
Sam Bowman is a writer who enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time, he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.