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« When Competition Becomes Corrosive | Main | Frankensteinian Homeschooling »

December 02, 2007



Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you had the dedication to make things work, and I am sure that is or will be evident in your children.


One question: how do you cover medical costs? This is what always keeps me at a job.....


Yeah, that is a tricky one. I spent several years uninsured, which actually worked fine. My experience is that when really important medical attention is necessary, providers are willing to work out payment plans and financing. I had a health issue earlier this year and as an uninsured patient, qualified for financial assistance at the hospital as well as with the medical group. If you're willing to spend a lot of time filling out paperwork and submitting your income information many, many times, it all seems to work out. I now have a state subsidized insurance policy that I waited 18 months to get. I rarely use it, and it doesn't include dental and vision (which I need the most often) but it is nice to know that it is there. My kids have always been covered by our state health insurance program for lower income families. I found a dentist in town who is willing to carry my balance for up to 12 months with no finance charge.


Thanks for contributing this article to this week's Carnival of Family Life, hosted at the so-called me on Monday, December 10, 2007! We have many other wonderful entries, so stop by and read a few!

Interested in hosting the Carnival? The schedule is posted at Colloquium.


Hi Becky! I just found this article and I am so grateful you shared your experience here. I, too, am divorced.

I work a three-day shift 17 to 24 hours each, and my 10 year old daughter is with her dad during this time. Then he works three days, and I have her. Then we have three days off at the same time, at which point I usually have her two of those days,before the cycle continues again.

My problem is when she is at her dad's the majority of her time is spent in front of the television. I would not call that unschooling. When I have her I can see the effects of too much t.v. and most of it is what I would call "junk t.v."

While I would favor a more relaxed homeschooling style, to combat the "numbing down" of my child, I have needed to initiate greater expectations on her when she's with me.

This is very frustrating to me, as well as to her, especially since I realize I have a tendency to overcompensate and go to the opposite extreme.

Also, she is essentially an only child, as her two older siblings are in their mid twenties so there's not that exchange of energy between children, where they can inspire one another to explore.

So, I'm wondering how does the father of your children view the unschooling of the kids and how much does he contribute to their learning experiences or not?

I know some women who are divorced or separated and in their situation there is not only non-support but sabotage. That's how it feels with me, although it is a passive sabotage. So I'm curious as to how it works for you.

I do so appreciate the sacrifices you've had to make. I was asked by someone why I didn't have a better paying job, and like you, it's because of my commitment to be there for my child.

Sometimes I've gotten so frustrated, especially with the negative impact of constant t.v. for those extended periods of time, that I've thought about putting her in school to save her from it.

But then I think what she would go through there, especially as a visual spacial child, would do greater harm.

So I don't know. I like to read the articles here though and be reminded of why I'm doing this, but it can be hard.


Yeah, the co-parenting has been a bit tricky at times in regards to unschooling. My kids' dad and I have had plenty of challenges, but my experience is that it all shifts in time. In the early days of our separation and divorce, I really thought that I as going to have to give up on unschooling. He was very angry and had major doubts about the validity of living life without school. This had always been my department, and it was very difficult to deal with his newfound opinions. As the dust settled, however, we were able to communicate a bit more rationally, and both agreed that making major lifestyle changes would be devastating for the kids. We agreed to keep the unschooling the same for a period of time, and then reevaluate.

As far as the TV thing goes, I have dealt with that as well. Up until our divorce, our kids had never had television in our home and rarely even watched videos. TV was one of the first things that their Dad introduced into his new home, and I really struggled with letting go. It took a while, but I as eventually able to realize that it wasn't my job to parent them at his house. I stopped asking questions about what they were watching, and only expressed concern to their Dad when I truly observed behavior or conversation that felt uncomfortable to me.

I still believe that living without TV is better for kids (and adults), but have let go of the notion that my way is the only way. My kids are growing up in a big, wide world, full of influences from media that I don't care for. If nothing else, I feel that their exposure at their Dad's house lends itself well to loads of conversation at my house about advertising, media, consumerism, pop culture...the list is long. Hang in there.


Thanks for your reply, Becky. I've been thinking a lot about this since I made my comment, and I think part of my problem was my expectation of what I thought she should be learning or where she should be, and realizing that that wasn't going to happen with the inconsistency between her dad's house and mine.

I need to let go of that. Simply, because I have to. Not only was it driving her crazy, but totally burning me out.

But I, also, know that T.V. watching, especially to the extent she does it stifles her natural curiosity. It numbs out the very thing that unschooling seeks to nurture, and that's the child's natural desire to learn.

T.V. substitutes that with a passive desire to be fed. I can see the effect.

But I need to be careful to not lay an unnatural template of "state standards" onto that as a measure of what I think she would accomplish if her natural curiosity wasn't stifled.

I will be mindful of your last paragraph and look for positive discussions out of her T.V. experience.

In the meantime, instead of trying to compensate with state standards, I need to really create an atmosphere conducive to exploring and learning, when she's with me, and find a way to wet her appetite to the point where she will want to continue, at least, in part her exploration when at her dad's.

Not an easy task, but I find coming here really helps me to remember...to remember and remember and remember what homeschooling is about.

So easy to forget or to get caught up in what "should" be or what she "could" do under different circumstances.

We have *these* circumstances. That's what I have to work with. We'll take it from here.


Good for you! Doing the deep soul searching is always the hardest, but also the most rewarding. Happy New Year!


Karen (from Our Deer Baby)

Thank you for sharing. I am still in the process of divorce and my soon to be ex suddenly doesn't like homeschooling anymore. We mostly have unschooled and I am trying to figure out strategies for this new situation. I am happy to read about you doing this as a single parent.



Just re-read this. I have a number of posts bookmarked to encourage me that we CAN make it back home. I'm changing jobs to try to make that happen. I'm always glad to see others making "my" dream come true. It keeps me focused on my goal.

Nahuatl Vargas

Hi Becky:
Thank you so much for sharing your story, I only have one kid (3) but we live in Mexico, and there is not much government help, I may get 22 dollars for month, but it´s really hard to get them. At the time I am exhausted, I have to work a lot of time (I do it at home), and my kid watch too much t.v. (for any t.v. is too much), his father has never been around.
But our history is inspiring, thank you very much.

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