When I first thought about homeschooling, I worried about juggling a full-time job and educating my kids. I thought it would be an impossible task. How would my kids learn on their own? Who would look after them while I was working? The list of questions went on for a mile! But after doing some careful research, I found that many parents work and homeschool at the same time without going crazy.
That’s because we have a secret weapon on our side—flexibility. As a homeschooler, you make your own schedule; you don’t have to follow the same schedule as a public school. You can easily create a schedule that works around your day or night job. And that’s not all, there are many other resources available geared toward helping working parents. So don’t sweat it, I work full-time and my kids are doing awesome. You can do the same by using these tips that make all the difference in the world!
Family and Friends
If you have family nearby, try recruiting them for a day or two during the week. My in-laws live about a half-hour away, and they agreed to help two days a week—more time with the grandkids! Here’s the key though, when you recruit family, friends, or hire a sitter, make certain you create a homework list. That makes things much less complicated; everyone knows their assignments and there is no confusion. Here are a few things that I assign:
Life skills: doing the laundry, cleaning, making lunch or even dinner if your kids are old enough.
Busy work: reading, spelling, lab work or other things your children enjoy.
Independent learning: use online curriculum products that promote independent learning.
You get the idea, don’t burden your family or friends with complicated lessons. That will only cause frustration and maybe even a little resentment. Keep the harder stuff for when you have one-to-one time with them later in the day or early evening. If you’re married, have your spouse share the workload. When everyone participates, homeschooling becomes easier and more effective.
Online Learning Tools
As I suggested above, I use an online curriculum product because my kids not only love the computer interaction, it also keeps them interested and occupied for hours. Seriously, I never thought my kids would enjoy doing their studies! There are other cool perks, too. It has an automatic grading system, it tracks my kid’s progress, and keeps reports for portfolio management. When I get home from work, I can easily see what they’ve accomplished.
Homeschool Groups and Co-ops
Many working parents belong to a homeschool group or co-op. They offer your kids the chance to meet other homeschoolers and learn from different teachers. I got a bit creative with a homeschool group that I found. One or two days a week, I drop my kids off in the morning at the homeschool group and pick them up at lunch and bring them home. Granted, my lunch hour is mostly used up by the time I’m finished but it’s worth it.
There are many different groups you can join, just do an online search. Find the one that fits your schedule and needs, explain your situation as a working parent, and make a plan that works for everyone. Many homeschoolers will understand your plight and help out. One thing though, you should reciprocate whenever you get the chance. Perhaps you can have the group at your home on your day off. Pitching in always goes a long way, believe me.
Think Outside The Box
Look at the normal public school schedule, it runs about six to six-and-a-half hours long. That won’t work for many working parents, especially for me. So, I took a normal schedule and made something brand new that fits my needs.
For example, my kids homeschool approximately three hours a day. Sometimes I’m with them for a couple hours in the evening or morning, depending on my schedule, and sometimes they’re working independently on core subjects. One or two days per week they attend their group, and on my day off, which is usually Wednesday, we review all their work and go over any problems. We do things differently and this method has created new learning opportunities for them. You can do the same thing, think outside the box, map out your free time, and make a schedule that works for your family.
Bringing it All Together
Now that you have the flexibility that homeschooling brings, start using the many resources that are available to help you create a wonderful homeschool environment. Here are some tools that I found and use, and what’s cool is my kids can do many things on their own.
Online educational videos: YouTube has a bunch of online videos that your children can view.
Tutoring: many young college grads are happy to tutor kids for a decent price.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about homeschoolers, whether they work or not, is that we share an enthusiasm and passion for our children’s education. We get the job done, help one another, and have fun along the way. So go for it, you’ll make things work out for you and your kids.