I left school at the end of year 10 to pursue a career in hairdressing. 12 months later I was back at home, pregnant and unemployed. When my son was 6 months old, I decided to return to school. I started at TAFE, hoping to complete years 11 and 12. Not long after I started, my daycare options fell through. Luckily I was able to transfer to a distance education faculty. This took dedication, willpower and the ability to work alone. I was mucked around by Social Security (in Australia you can get an education supplement if you are on a single parents pension), daycare options kept falling through and keeping the house neat and tidy was a tad bit difficult. I was able to complete my year 11 and 12 though, 4 years later. This was made a lot easier by the help from friends and the fact that Fletcher went to school the year he turned 5.
Getting any form of higher education when you are a single mum is extremely difficult but definitely worth it. The more certificates to your name, the better you look to prospective employers. You also get the opportunity to learn new things and achieve your goals and aspirations. Your life does not stop just because you have a child or children.
I know of one woman, my old English teacher, who had her child young. She has just completed her masters in teaching and now teaches at our local university!
It is really sad to see young girls today, having their kids while they are still in their teens, having to drop out of school and not returning to complete their studies. Knowledge is one of the most important things a person can have. Without knowledge you can become lost in the big wide world. You need it to succeed at what you wish to achieve.
In Australia there are few High Schools that offer help to young mums. Most girls have the kids and never return, living in a vicious cycle of being unemployed, living on the pension and popping out more kids. They are not able to move forward and provide a better lifestyle for their young families, and some turn to drugs and alcohol. You see them living in public housing, struggling from pay day to pay day, getting involved in relationships that are detrimental to their health and self image. But some places do offer opportunities for further education. TAFE (which is a community college type place) offers a wide range of courses, including certificates in General Education, Higher School Certificate, Tertiary preparation and Diplomas. You have access to on campus daycare which is a godsend…if you can get your child into it. Some high schools, Plumpton High in Sydney for example, have programs for single and young mums. On top of the normal subjects, they also teach the girls how to care for their children properly and essential life skills that these girls often haven’t learned yet. They start this program when they find out the girls are pregnant so that they are prepared for the changes they will face in the very near future. Because of this sort of program more girls are able to complete high school while being mothers so that they can be more successful.
I found that studying by distance education was much easier when my child was young. I didn’t have to organize child care except if I had an exam or classes, if he was sick I wasn’t missing out, and if I didn’t feel like studying during the day, I could do it at night when he was in bed. It also meant that I had time for other things too, such as keeping the house tidy. The downside of it was that you didn’t have a set timetable, you didn’t have face to face contact with your teachers and people could just pop in whenever they felt like it, but you learn to overcome that and prioritize.
Pursuing higher education is filled with struggles for anyone, but when you are a single mum it can be even more challenging. But with determination you can make the struggles less difficult. Life is not over the moment that little bundle of joy pops out. One thing that a mother learns is multitasking and this can enable you to both be the best mum you can be to your little angel, as well as achieve the goals that you want to achieve and further your education.