Is it possible to have your homeschool cake and eat it, too? In other words, is homeschooling for working parents possible? Can you homeschool at night after working all day? How would you organize your time if you’re both working and homeschooling?
In the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of parents were thrown into this exact scenario. If you survived it – you deserve a medal. That, my friends, was crisis schooling, and you all deserve a Starbucks gift card or something! Now that we have all found a new rhythm (have we?), you might be looking for homeschooling tips for working parents that have nothing to do with a pandemic. I’ve worked at least part-time the entire time I’ve homeschooled, so I can tell you it is possible. I said possible – not easy.
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How do I Homeschool My Kids if I Work Full Time?
First of all, you need a ton of patience for yourself and your kids if you are going to be working while homeschooling. Some of you may be working outside the home, some may be working at home while managing the kid chaos. You might have a flexible job or one with a set schedule. It can be hard to manage all these factors.
Working Full Time, Outside the Home, and Homeschooling?
If you are working full-time on a set schedule outside the home, it can bring a certain set of challenges. Who takes care of the kids while you’re at work? Will you have the energy to teach your kids once you finish your work day? Are your kids at THEIR best when you are off work?
To make this scenario work, you will need a significant support system. If your kids are still young, you will need someone to watch the kids while you are at work. This might be your spouse/partner or a friend or someone that you hire. Can that caregiver get the kids started with their schooling while you’re at work?
If you have someone to watch the kids while you are at work, you can give them some simple assignments to do while you are gone. Handwriting practice, reading, spelling, math, and art are all things that can be done on an individual basis (depending on their ages, of course).
Working Full Time, At Home, and Homeschooling
In this scenario, everyone is home at the same time. Depending on the type of work you do, this can be perfect or it can be a recipe for a disaster. If you need a quiet place to do your work, then it will be challenging to have the kids home with you. It’s essential to time block and teach your kids about your work hours and need to focus.
If you find your kids are interrupting you while you are working from home, take more frequent breaks. For example, you might take a 10-minute break after working 1 hour. This way your kids know they can hold their questions until that time.
I also found if I gave my kids novel assignments or activities when I was trying to work, it would hold their attention longer. For example, break out a new play-doh toy or coloring book during your work hours so the kids will focus on that. Have special “work time” or “school time” toys that only come out when you are trying to work. Again, you can also assign them independent school tasks as well.
Can Two Working Parents Homeschool?
It is possible to have a positive homeschool experience even when both parents are working. If you are working outside the home, then you will need child care and a support system to help you in this adventure. If you are working at home, experiment with working different hours than your spouse so one of you is teaching the kids while the other person is working.
Do I Have to Quit My Job to Homeschool?
Nope. You might discover a different type of job would work better with homeschooling, but you don’t have to quit your job. You can work part-time or full-time, but you will need a support system. Keep reading for some ideas to keep working and homeschool.
Homeschooling Tips for Working Parents
Even in simple situations and household arrangements, homeschooling is not easy. If parents are working, it gets even more complicated. There is a plethora of logistics to manage and sleep schedules to maintain. The following tips are meant to help you and encourage you that you can do this. Keep in mind, though, that each situation is unique. What works for one person might not work for you, and that’s okay. It will take some trial and error to find your working and homeschooling rhythm.
Plan Your Day
Remember I told you we started homeschooling for flexibility? It is hard to stay flexible when you have a job to do on top of homeschooling. (In theory, I’d like to tell you to take it easy and go with the flow, but to be honest, that’s not really how I work. If you do, then you can probably skip to the next tip.)o
When I was working at home and homeschooling, I found it necessary to have a routine. I used blocks of time to keep us on track. For example, I worked an hour, then we did school until we were finished, then we played for 20 minutes, and then I would work again for two or three hours. We weren’t necessarily stuck to a certain time as my work was flexible, but I tried to use these blocks along with routine. It helped my kids (and me) to stay on track and to know what was coming next.
I also narrated the day to my kids as it was happening. I would set a timer and tell the kids when the timer went off it would be school time so they needed to get their chores done and their school books out before then. If they had their independent tasks done before the timer went off, they could have some free time. We would then do school until it was finished. I’d set the timer again and we could play together or go for a walk for 20 minutes. When the timer went off, it was my time to work again for a couple of hours. It takes time to set a routine like this in place, but once we all got used to it, it worked pretty well.
I would tell my kids a few times throughout the day what was going to happen in the next few time blocks, so they always knew what to expect. One of my daughters picked up on this and soon began planning out her own time blocks. Every day during my afternoon work hours, she would have her own agenda for what she would do such as crafting, reading, and then brushing the cat.
Outsource Homeschool or Household Tasks
Even on a good day, homeschool moms (parents) need support. When you are trying to homeschool and work, extra hands become even more essential. One way to take a little bit of the load off is to outsource tasks. Outschool offers really fun online classes, and this can be a great way to outsource some of the education. Do you have a teenage homeschooled neighbor? Maybe they could come over and help with basic education tasks.
If you are working a set schedule and then homeschooling, outsourcing household tasks might be more helpful. I can teach science all day but doing the dishes? That’s the last on my priority list! If you are going to pay someone to help you, pay for the things that you dread the most. If you have another friend in a similar situation you might be able to trade tasks or homeschooling responsibilities.
Keep it Fun and Remember Kids are Like Sponges
As I mentioned above, having toys or activities that are only for school time or work time can keep things novel and more interesting for your kids. If they know they only get the “good markers” while you are working, they are less likely to interrupt you. Plan times that are just for fun with your kids. Take a “recess” with a walk and a snack around the block. Do some calisthenics when attention spans start to wane.
Kids are like sponges; they will absorb information and learn things every day naturally. If you get behind in your school plan, it’s okay. I always try to catch up, but sometimes we don’t succeed. Integrate learning into normal conversations and at random times of the day. For example, I sometimes read their school books at breakfast time because they were all sitting in one spot and I had their full attention. Before we went for a hike on the weekends, we’d review types of rocks and brainstorm places on the trail we might find fossils.
You do not need to do school only during school hours. Break up tasks. Integrate them into other days and areas of your life to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder in your kids.
Do You Have a Job that Makes it Easy to Homeschool?
This is a very privileged response, I realize, so only use this tip if it resonates with you. Is your job serving you and your family? Are there better options out there that would still give you a paycheck but be more flexible or use more of your skills? if you are looking for legit jobs for homeschool moms, click here. I have a whole list for you. I sold jewelry for a while, worked as a search engine evaluator, ran a daycare, and now work as a freelance writer. All of these have been flexible. Knowing my personality, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed homeschooling as much if my job had a fixed schedule.
I know not everyone will have the option to just change their career path or to switch jobs. However, it is something to consider. Sometimes you have to be willing to explore, though, and be open to new possibilities.
What is the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Working Parents?
I know you’d like a concrete answer to this question, but the best homeschool curriculum for working parents is the one you will use. You might take materials from a variety of resources or use an open-and-go set. For me, I used Build Your Library and Torchlight because it was mostly open and go. If you are working you don’t have a lot of time to research and scour the Internet to pull things together. An open-and-go secular homeschool curriculum can save you loads of time.
Don’t forget resources such as Outschool, Khan Academy, and YouTube to help fill in some gaps and keep the material fresh and interesting.
So, is it possible to work and still homeschool? Yes! Absolutely! It isn’t easy, and it will take time to find the right balance of chaos and structure in your own home, but you can do it. Keep things as simple as possible to save yourself time and energy. If you find yourself getting burned out, take a step back and re-evaluate. You’ve got this, mama.