Homeschooling doesn’t have to be an exclusive calling on a parent’s life. Many homeschooling families work while they teach their children. It’s not a breeze, by any means, but with some planning and practical expectations, mixing work and homeschool can be done.
In my experience, there are several keys to mixing work and homeschool:
- my job must be family friendly,
- our home school must be scheduled,
- our curriculum needs to be low maintenance and easy for a sub (my husband) to use,
- our extra curricular activities should be non-invasive to the rest of our life, and
- we have to operate as a family.
Family Friendly Job
Family friendly jobs are the buzz word of working mothers. It often includes such perks as flexible work schedules, work from home time, and job sharing.
I have a different take on family friendly. It means the people I work with need to be family people. I sometimes bring my children to work. When I get calls at home, clients cannot be irritated about noise in the background. When I get calls after work hours, they need to understand I might put them on hold to take dinner out of the oven.
When a company and it’s people can be that kind of family friendly, then I will serve them better and be more loyal than someone who is simply working the 9-5 shift.
Mixing work and homeschool requires commitment to the job.
Scheduled Home School
Many home school advocates tend to gloss over the need for a real commitment to schoolwork. Yes, home schooling involves learning in real life, but washing the dishes and changing a diaper will not teach the area of a parallelogram. I want my children to be skilled at running a household and capable helpmates for their husbands (obviously, I have all girls). The next generation will probably do far better being self-employed than working in a cubicle, so I want my daughters to know how to run a business alongside their husbands. I am not only setting an example for them, I want to train them to do an even better job than I do.
Just like I can’t get from Austin to Houston without a map and a plan, I can’t get through a year of home school without a plan from start to finish. It is so easy to blow off a lesson in phonics or even a whole day of schoolwork, then another day, then another. Suddenly, 30 weeks later, we’re only halfway through the grade. What happened?!? I was lazy, and I let my children be lazy.
That’s not teaching diligence, much less producing a child who can read, write and do math. So, I schedule our lessons in Homeschool Tracker. I schedule some subjects by the page and the day, like phonics. Other subjects, like math, can be scheduled by the unit. For example, we work on a unit per week, so the targeted completion date per unit is each Friday.
Likewise, I schedule our days to include school. We have a get up time (7 a.m.), start school time (9 a.m.), lunch time (noon), and afternoon school time (2 p.m.). These times have to be somewhat flexible to account for my work and other life interruptions, but school must get done or we have weekend homework to catch up.
Mixing work and homeschool requires commitment to the schooling.
Low Maintenance Curriculum
When we started home schooling, I liked the idea of unit studies. Tying all aspects of a subject together seemed like it would be fun and interesting. At least for me, I was wrong. I tended to be too much of a perfectionist to ever get it done right. If I was missing one thing, I just could not improvise. As my family has grown, I’ve lost some of the perfectionist tendencies, but I’m even less able to improvise. This was obviously going to be an even bigger issue if my husband had to substitute teach. So, I chose a mixture of textbook, workbook, and classical methods.
With the assignment sheet in hand, my husband can pick up and make a valiant effort to substitute for me. He at least knows where everyone is supposed to be in their work and can make sure no one snowballs him with less work than assigned…not that my kids would ever do that. Ha! This method gives us a clear plan for schoolwork, is easy to schedule, facilitates independent study, and correlates well with skill and grade level.
Mixing work and homeschool works better when you keep it simple.
Extra Curricular Activities
Extra curricular activities are important to children for many reasons. They foster friendships based on similar interests and develop confidence. However, extra curricular activities tend to take on a life of their own and suck up free time. Many sports require several nights of practice during the week and game(s) on weekends. That’s just one sport for one child. If you have multiple children, you might be lucky to see them face to face for more than a few minutes a day. We have chosen to limit our activities to ones that do not take a large chunk of time, allow all the children old enough to participate, and build desired character and skills in our children.
We are a member of a co-op that meets on Fridays. Each child takes three classes, and I help in two of them. There is a mixture of fun classes, like art and drama, with academically challenging classes, like science and writing. They make friends with children from different backgrounds. We all enjoy it immensely.
Mixing work and homeschool means saying no to too many extras.
Operate as a Family
Finally, one of the goals of any family, but particularly a homeschool family, should be operating in all aspects as a unit. We are not lone rangers. We go places together. Eat meals together. Spend time together. Laugh, cry, get mad, and get on each other’s nerves together. That’s called real life.
We know all our children’s friends and their families. We take experiences, good and bad, and talk about what was right and wrong and how to do it better next time. Because there is always a next time.
Mixing work and homeschool requires a family commitment.
So, if you’re looking for a job to help make ends meet, don’t take the first offer that comes along. Think it through and put it to the test.
- Is the management family friendly?
- Will the hours and work requirements fit your family’s goals and lifestyle?
- Does your home school curriculum mesh with the other demands on your time?
- What extra curricular activities conflict with school and work?
- Make sure everyone, especially your spouse, is on board and supportive.
- What changes need to be made to operate as a unit?
Mixing work and homeschool takes commitment and planning, for sure. But many parents are doing it, and you can, too.