Absolutely terrified of failing him!


This will be a bit rambly so please bear with me.

I'm a single parent to a very attached three old. I've said right from his birth that I would like to Home Educate and I've always been fairly confident in my/our ability to see this through. But lately I'm having major doubts and I really don't know what to do to still them.

Our social circle is quite intimate to start with, and the few kids that Nuada does see regularly have already or are due to start nursery soon. I don't drive and being a stay at home single parent means money is usually pretty tight anyway. There are no groups any closer than Glasgow, we're having no luck finding any home educators near us that want to meet up, and I'm really worried about Nuada's social interaction.
We've tried out various different pre-school classes and activities but he's just not ready for them yet. They don't hold his interest and he ends up just disrupting the rest of the class because his attention span is short and he's boisterous. As he should be at 3. But he doesn't do well in structured classes, which I'm unsure as to whether is because he's 3 or because we don't have a lot of structure at home and I don't push him to continue with things when he loses interest.

I do believe in autonomous learning but have so many queries as to how this should be put into practice. I worry hugely that I won't be creative enough to come up with activities for him to do. That I'm not organized enough to keep him stimulated.

He's full of beans, is loud and on the go constantly. And as much as I love that he knows what he wants, it's bloody hard work to put on a warriors' face and have ANOTHER swordfight when I'm run into the ground. I have no support in daily care of him other than a few hours once a week when he plays with a friend without me. I have no support at all in home educating him and the pushing from family about putting him into nursery being the best option is really getting me down now.

I'm really not sure what I'm looking for from this, other than a moan at other folk that might have had the same worries. Surely there are single parents out there that home educate? What am i actually supposed to be doing that warrants the title of "home educating"? What does a typical h.e day with a 3yr old actually entail...?

I have found a school not too far from where we live that has excellent reports, currently having 1.5million pound refurb and only has 32 pupils in the whole school. I figure if it doesn't work out and he goes to school, it will be here. But it's in an area that I really don't want to live. So rural, I don't drive. It's literally a street with a community centre. I love where we live now. And I hate the freedom we would loose by having a school dates routine. The flip side of that is that at some point I will have to work or become self employed and the organization required for self employment terrifies me.

Argh! Somebody please tell me what to do. Or just kick me, or something? lol. Any words of wisdom from anyone at all would be very gratefully received.


Well-known member
You know I have wee ones and I am continually plagued with doubts. But then I see what my 3 year old can do when compared to her 4 year old cousin (who goes to nursery) and I know I am making the right choice. He will get to the stage where he can join activity groups and take part. Once they hit 5 there's loads for them to take part in where they can make friends. Try not to worry too much about it. You have another 2 years before it even becomes a pressing issue. Try to enjoy your time with him (easier said than done I know).
Hi Virosa, Maybe be a good idea to stop worrying and just let things roll. Enjoy your special relationship with your special child. You may find that you do not need much in the way of support to home ed him when the time comes (if that's what you decide to do)
Am a lone parent with 4 children, 2 home ed and 2 in school. Manage to work (but only) with the support of my children. Education comes easy to hungry young minds. Kids rule!
Hi Virosa,

I am a single mum, home educating a nine year old with autism and epilepsy. He did two terms at primary school before I pulled him out, age 5. It has been a steep learning curve! But a few things that have helped -

One day at a time. They're babies. When I look around now I'm amazed at what we expect children to do and cope with at such a young age. People raised children for centuries without toddler groups or nursery or SureStart Centres. With an active little man (as yours sounds like he is) you can run him ragged at the park, through the woods, going swimming, etc etc. If he's very attached to you I would say this is because he feels he needs to be near you - my boy was the same. I cannot tell you how many times I've been slated for giving in to him, being too soft, over-protecting him and so on. It's all paid off, he's a very happy, confident 9 year old now. They just get it in their own time in their own way, so I found it helped just to focus on today and not thinking too much about the future - easier said than done, I know! Have you read The Continuum Concept? I can't remember the author, she's a psychologist (American or Canadian, I forget which), but it's a really good read with regard to raising children as part of a family, rather than getting them away from their families very young, which is what we tend to do here.
Sorry, splitting the reply because I get logged out again if I take too long!

We do/have done lots of craft stuff, lots of baking and cooking, project work (for example, we go to the local pond and take photos of the ducks, plants, trees etc and then look up what they are and make up scrap books with information about them and so on), we've done/are doing similar with trains, the local area, buses - whatever they are interested in. Every day activities are educational, he'll need to know how to cook, manage money, wire a plug, put a shelf up - these are all things he can do with/alongside you as and when the opportunity arises. We visit museums, zoos, local forests where they run activities etc. You do have to be more organised without a car but we used to try and do things in chunks - so, for example, we might get the bus to town, go for a swim, visit the library, buy a couple of days worth of groceries, go to the park and so on, before going home again. Once you get going you find it all gets easier; I think sometimes it feels like a huge undertaking but when you break it down into "what shall we do today" it gets a lot easier. As he's got older I've found clubs that my son's been able to do, with me initially but he goes to a lot on his own now.

I think there's a big focus now on what they all 'ought' to be doing and personally I think it's rubbish - everyone should be able to develop in their own way at their own pace. It's lovely watching them change and flourish as they grow and even nicer when your friends are all moaning about the school run, peer pressure, yummy mummies etc and you can just sit there looking all smug :)
Have you read The Continuum Concept?
Written by Jean Liedloff :-D

You might also wish to read about Attachment Parenting :)

I do know how you feel. We took our DS (13) out of school 18 months ago. The panic we felt was total, despite knowing that it was the right thing for him.

If you're worried about what your child might be 'missing' by not going to school at this stage, you could try 'google' regarding early years curriculum. My guess is that you'll find he isn't missing anything - as he'll be interested in doing what is exactly right and relevant for HIM right now.

I must confess, that reading about Early Years Curriculum/interventions etc (indeed any age curriculum ;) ) makes me want to scream. There is a world of difference between what the teacher is 'delivering' at any time and what the child is learning during that 'delivery'. All too often they have nothing to do with each other, unless the child is actually interested and in the right frame of mind to take in what is being 'delivered' and at the right stage of development to understand/be able to process it ;)


Thanks for the reassuring responses guys.

In answer to some of it...
No, I haven't read The The Continuum Concept. However we host on Couchsurfing and once had two women stay with us who apply it to their parenting so we did have very interesting and extensive conversations about it. As it turns out, I also parent by the same means. This is also the case for Attachment Parenting. N is 3 and a half (although he's convinced he's 40?!) and is still co-sleeping and breastfeeding with no intention of stopping anytime soon. He was worn in a sling until I physically couldn't carry him but by then he was walking anyway. Again, I never knew this was attachment parenting until much later.

I don't have any concerns about his attachment or my parenting at all. Though it's nice (and rare) to run into others recommending it. =) My concern was/is mostly with my ability to carry out the educational side of it. As much as I know his attachment is a good thing, it doesn't make it any less exhausting doing it on my own. There are days, as I'm sure everyone has them, that I just want to sleep for a week or just don't have the energy to do the things he wants to do. I'm concerned about how I'll manage to work and give him the amount of time he needs/deserves and still be creative enough to make it enjoyable and useful to him. Autonomous learning is great, but realistically there still has to be an awful lot of input to nurture it.
I think when you're on your own you are caught between a rock and a hard place. It is exhausting - but if they're in school it's often just as tiring, if not more if they are having problems or not settling in well. Personally I took the approach that if I was going to do 18 hour days I would rather be spending 18 hours on things that I felt would benefit my son and myself than battling the system, although my son has special needs so a lot of the fighting was due to that and wouldn't apply in all cases. You can pick and choose what you use - if you feel two afternoons a week in nursery would give you a break then you might be able to organise that. Equally, we have a local after school club that my son attends (they take children from five) which gives me a couple of hours three or four times a week to myself, plus he now goes to various clubs so someone else is running around keeping him amused.

I don't think there's an easy answer for parents, whatever their situation! I don't know anyone with kids who isn't constantly knackered and when you're on your own it really doesn't let up. Unfortunately I don't think there's any way around it without compromising somewhere.
My concern was/is mostly with my ability to carry out the educational side of it. As much as I know his attachment is a good thing, it doesn't make it any less exhausting doing it on my own. There are days, as I'm sure everyone has them, that I just want to sleep for a week or just don't have the energy to do the things he wants to do. I'm concerned about how I'll manage to work and give him the amount of time he needs/deserves and still be creative enough to make it enjoyable and useful to him. Autonomous learning is great, but realistically there still has to be an awful lot of input to nurture it.
It does get easier as they get older, when you have a 3 year old you are still recovering from the efforts of babyhood and in the middle of meeting the needs of a toddler. Our children are 8 and 6, there are 2 of us parenting them but it's gotten much easier over the past couple of years as they have become more independent and can meet many of their needs themselves.

For now the education you provide is about access to the most interesting environment available. In fact that's really what it'll be about when they are older too. Luckily by the time you need to find ways for your child to learn astrophysics (or whatever he wants to learn) your child will by then be able to cook for himself (and you) and organise much of his learning himself so you won't need to climb that learning curve and still do everything you have to do now.

A home ed mum I know was talking about how her son got into college and she said what's surprised her is how easy it's all been.

Autonomous ed itself does not need effort to be nurtured, it's the natural way to learn. The effort in our house is negotiating relationships so that everyone gets the best life they can have. Then when everyone has the best they can get the learning is happening easily and magically. For us the greatest learning curve has been finding ways to meet and negotiate everyone's needs. It's like the first year on an allotment, the hardest part is digging and then getting the horse manure and spreading it, the actual growing bit is magic and takes no effort.

It seems like your worry is that you will not be able to provide what he needs. Sounds like you are managing that right now. How about looking instead at how to meet your own needs better. When you are doing that you'll have more resources to do an even better and more confident job as a mum.

One of the best things we can provide for our children is a good model for how to live. A parent who is missing out on sleep, financial security and creativity will do well for her child if she can model great ways to find those things for herself. Doing these things will meet your own need for creativity in the most practical life enriching way. That'll be better than modelling martyrdom but it sounds like you don't want to do that anyway.