Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 52 – Tips for Homeschooling as a Working Parent. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
When parents make the decision to homeschool, often one parent will quit working to stay at home and take on the task of educating their child. But for many parents, that isn’t possible. They can’t afford the lost income, or both parents work in fields that they truly love and don’t want to stop working. If you can learn to be flexible, you can absolutely homeschool while still working.
I work from home running my own business, and I’ve done so for going on 11 years. I do many things. I homeschool my children, write lesson plans, make videos, and curate a used bookstore… To say I wear many hats may be an understatement. I’m going to share some tips and advice as to how I make it all work. So if you are considering homeschooling while working a full-time job, I hope I can make it sound doable!
First and foremost, you need to figure out your routine and then stick to it like glue. This will look different for everyone, and I’ve talked specifically about routine before. But routines are essential to getting everything done. For me, we homeschool in the morning. I try to get our day started between 8 and 8:30 every day. Starting late throws my afternoon out of whack, so I try really hard to maintain that start time. I also try to get anything we need to do together done by noon.
My daughter has independent work assignments to complete in the afternoon. My workday begins around 1 pm, and I work the whole afternoon and into the evening. Your schedule might be the complete opposite. Maybe you need to work in the morning and then homeschool in the evening. It doesn’t matter so much how you structure your day, but you need that structure in place to ensure you can get to all of the things you need to do. Being organized is key!
I know they say that you can have it all, but honestly, that’s a lot of responsibility! I can’t reasonably homeschool, work, meal plan, grocery shop, cook, and clean the house. I can do two of those things well, three okay, but at some point, my house of cards will topple. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to delegate.
As soon as your children are old enough to help out around the house, assign chores. They won’t be done perfectly, but they will get done. Perhaps your spouse can do groceries and cook. Maybe you can find the money to hire someone to clean your house. Look for ways to reduce your workload so that you can focus on homeschooling.
In my home, my kids help with the housework, and my husband meal plans, grocery shops, and cooks. He also does the laundry, drives everyone everywhere, does yardwork, and helps me run Build Your Library… he’s definitely a keeper. You need those support systems in place to manage your household while you are working and homeschooling.
And of course, you can consider delegating some of the homeschool load as well. Maybe your spouse can help out here too, or a grandparent who wants to spend more time with your children, or you might look into online classes or local co-ops. Homeschooling will look different for every family, so figure out what works best for you and your work schedule!
I’ve talked about building independence in a previous tidbit. But if you are going to be able to work while homeschooling, you are going to need your child to get some assignments completed independently. Homeschooling doesn’t mean that you are going to be sitting with your child the whole day working on every lesson. As soon as they are reading well, you can assign independent reading. You can also add in some workbook assignments, online classes, and other tasks that they can manage on their own while you are working.
Around the age of 10 or so, you can start to give them checklists of assignments that need to be done each day. Then they can just work down the list. Some of them will be done together, but the rest they can handle on their own. This will not only give you time to work, clean, or take a break – but it will help to build your child’s confidence!
When you are homeschooling and working at the same time, you need to let go of some things. Your house is going to be a tad messy. Your kids may not clean the kitchen to your standards. The laundry pile might reach Mount Neverest proportions. The goal is that you make time for the most important things first. It will likely be homeschooling and your job at the top of that list.
When you have time, you can eventually chip away at the laundry pile and maybe vacuum. You can homeschool and work at the same time if you’re okay with keeping your house reasonably clean and following a schedule that gives you enough time for both.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Homeschooling is a major undertaking, and working full-time while doing it is HARD. So, streamline wherever you can. Find a curriculum that covers many bases, so you aren’t juggling 10 different programs, like Build Your Library. Look for online classes to teach coursework that you are less confident teaching, such as science and math.
If you are homeschooling multiple children, consider family-style learning, where you combine your children in content subjects like history and science, while teaching individually for math and language arts. This will streamline your day so you aren’t running back and forth trying to juggle too many subjects with too many children.
Remember, you chose to homeschool for a reason. So when the days get hard and you want to throw in the towel, take a minute to reflect on why you chose this lifestyle in the first place. Look for a community, whether in person or online, of like-minded homeschool families who you can talk and vent to that will understand what you are doing. And above all, remember that there is no one “right” way to homeschool. Find what works best for your family and stick with it.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.