More than one person has asked me how my husband and I accomplish homeschooling while working full time. Honestly, it’s not easy… but it’s entirely possible!
Homeschooling while working full-time requires the following essential habits: Balance, planning, patience, flexibility, self-care, support, creativity (and lots of coffee!).
If the advantages of homeschool meet a need for your family, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”!!!
It also depends on the type of job you have and if there’s any flexibility in scheduling. Some families have one (or both) parents working from home. Other families may own their own business outside of the home. Either type of job allows for your children to be at home or a designated space at your place of business. This could solve the issue of childcare but create the issue of when instruction takes place and who is responsible.
What about those who work outside of the home in a location where your children cannot be under your supervision? What if two parents work the same hours outside of home? It is doable and under all kinds of circumstances- single parent, night shifts, part-time and full time… but it requires support, flexibility, creativity and potentially associated costs if family members are unable to help.
Our current arrangement for homeschooling consists of a schedule and situation that works with a combination of involving family, hired help, planning around work schedules and dividing homeschool duties among everyone involved. I do (almost all) of the lesson planning ahead of the school year and then plan day to day activities according to the schedule. Each day is divided out for all educational content to be covered through the week by different people.
Below are several different areas of consideration to determine if you can make a homeschool setting work for your family and finances.
There are many families who work on different schedules outside of the home. Some are single parents who make a homeschool schedule work. There are so many different dynamics and more people than you think who find a way to make it happen.
Below are four different full-time working families we know who make it work and an idea of how they schedule learning.
Single mom of 3, one with special needs-
Works in the restaurant industry from early morning until noon. Children are cared for by church members who oversee a few other kids in the same church community. Some activities take place during the day and mom fills in days off and afternoons with other learning activities.
Mom- night shift ER nurse, Dad- part-time work- 3 children-
Mom comes home and helps with breakfast/morning routine. Dad oversees part of the activities while mom sleeps (about 6 hours and she says it’s all she needs) and kids finish work with mom early afternoon while dad works. They also have a family member who helps out a lot throughout the week.
Single mom of 2- works daytime hours.
Kids are middle/high school age and they live beside their grandmother so constant supervision is not a need. All of their work is scheduled on the computer and mom comes home at lunch and checks in with them via devices and smartphones.
Mom/dad who work the same daytime hours- 2 children.
They hire childcare 2 days a week and the children are with family members the other 3 days. One family member is a retired teacher and does some instructional activities. The childcare days are typically spent doing more games, coloring, educational videos, and some fun activities like science experiments/cooking. Parents fill in the gaps on evenings and weekends.
Your schedule is also dependent on the age of your children. Younger children aren’t ready for long stretches of independent work, but they also don’t need as much time for instruction. Older students can complete more work independently but need more instructional materials. Obviously, family, daycare, in home childcare, and/or nannies for younger children is a need and consideration during the day when both parents work the same hours.
Homeschooling while working full-time requires some out of the box thinking and commitment from family.
Do you have a family member who can help with childcare part-time and also cover one or two subject areas? Can you utilize technological tools, such as creating a Google Classroom for your homeschooler, to plan lessons in advance?
Creative planning and scheduling is an option for all homeschool families as long as local state homeschooling requirements are met. For many families, it the advantages of homeschool outweigh the investment of time and planning to make it possible.
If an in home daycare, nanny or tutor is part of the plan to homeschool, those costs must be considered in your budget. If you are using an all inclusive curriculum to save time that is also a significant cost to consider.
The costs of homeschooling are on a sliding scale depending on what your family needs. If you work on different schedules than your partner, have family that can help, or own your business with flexibility, then you may not have the added expense of childcare. However, because of the demands of work, you may need to invest in a “done for you” curriculum.
Homeschool curriculum costs are also on a range depending on the type of resources you need.
A lot of working homeschool families find that pre-planned curriculum is a necessity. Otherwise, you will devote much more time to curriculum planning and time is already limited.
Some families accomplish this through online curriculum and others through all in one curriculum packages. It depends on the age and learning preferences of the child as to what curriculum may be more appropriate.
Time management & Pace
Working homeschool families rely on time management! When you only have pockets of time to fill with lessons, there’s not much time to lose. Working families have to prioritize blocks of time with intentional planning and instruction.
Another area important for working homeschool families is pace. The pace of the learning time will have ebbs and flows depending on whether or not homeschooling is new and the age of your child. The pacing can be slowed down or sped up and is a benefit of the personalized learning that homeschool provides.
Good enough and grace
One of the most valuable concepts for working homeschool families is that “good enough” is good enough! Perfection is not obtainable and only sets up for disappointment when things don’t quite go as planned.
Extend grace to yourself and this season of life when things can get messy quickly. You have to prioritize, let go of the unimportant small details and focus on the goals you have for your children and family with a home education experience.
There are many families who have chosen the same path with homeschool and work. There are opportunities with co-ops and friendships to support each other with ideas, resources and positive relationships. Homeschooling while working full time is not easy! It’s challenging and can be exhausting at times. Support is essential!
We’ve been fortunate that when our child needs to be with either grandparent, it naturally turns into educational experiences. In one home, he works in the garden and helps with different parts of the process. In another home, he has learned how to use a sewing machine and change oil in a car. These are great learning opportunities, but even better memories that he may have otherwise missed out on with family. Grandparents or close family members who support you and want to help out bring incredible gifts of time, talents and TLC!
The beauty of homeschool is that you are not on a traditional school schedule. You can take weeks off throughout the year and use summer as needed to make up learning time.
The level of focus during blocks of time during the day can result in a schedule that’s built around your child(ren) and not a schedule that’s built around a school day. The time you designate for homeschool also depends on the child’s personality and whether they are more independent or not.
Homeschooling around full-time work schedules requires some strategic planning but it can be done. As long as your kids are safe, happy and continuing to learn, they will adapt to different schedules and pick up important life skills in the process.