A lot of parents contact us each year with the concern as to how they can homeschool while working full time. With the economy still declining, this is more of a challenge than ever before. But it is possible with a little creativity and planning and many parents have done so with huge success!
Veteran parents say that the key to success is planning, flexibility, and communication with friends and family. The most important of these concepts is the planning and scheduling. The parent is not available 24/7 as in most traditional homeschools, so children need to have someone who they can lean on for support when parents are working.
One of the beautiful freedoms about homeschooling in general is that learning does not have to take part at specific times of the day or on specific days of the week that correspond to public schools. This carries over very nicely with those who need to have more rigid schedules due to employment – whether they work at home or outside the home.
The most challenging issue with parents who homeschool while working full time is not the educational aspect, rather it's organizing care for their children while they work.
Telecommuting is particularly popular with homeschoolers as a viable employment source which resolves much of the childcare conflict. With all the technology tools available, it is a lot easier to communicate with employers from anywhere in the world. Some families have made great sacrifices to have their children home with them and be able to telecommute such as converting a bedroom into a quiet office and asking children to share a room, or revamping other spaces in the home.
Another viable option to avoid needing expensive or outside childcare is to have opposing work shifts – for example one parent might work early morning hours while the other parent works in the evenings, allowing for one parent to always be present.
One idea is to trade mentoring hours with other homeschoolers who face the same challenge, for example while you are working your children could be with your homeschool friend and while your friend is working you could take their children. Just remember that the legality of having someone other than yourself homeschooling your children varies from state to state, so be sure you are within your state laws. Sometimes just a change of wording such as "my children go to a mentor for 3 hours, 2 days a week" rather than saying "my friend homeschools my children while I work" could keep you out of trouble.
Lesson planning can be a challenge as well as implementing lessons. Parents with teens have a great resource and can use the opportunity to teach their teens about leadership, which is not about telling people what to do, it's about mentoring and being an example. Teens can easily help younger children with certain concepts and lessons. Using computer-based learning tools is a big help to many in this situation as the lesson planning is generally done for you. Some parents even record lessons on a laptop using their webcam, or a mobile device, and send them to their children from the office. Again, technology is making it easier and easier to overcome many of life's challenges!
Overall, most parents who take the steps to plan and schedule will tell you that all of the sacrifices are worth it to be able to keep your children at home and know what they are learning.
What about you? Do you work while you homeschool? What is your day like? What options have you found that help you?