Since 2020, the number one question I get asked most often is, “How can I work and homeschool at the same time?” Whether moms and dads are trying to work from home, work outside the home, own their own business, they need to be able to work and homeschool their kids.
How can I work and homeschool my child? Is it even possible to do this?
Jennifer McKinnon from Practical by Default has some excellent advice on working while homeschooling. Jen has been a home schooling her children for 14 years, and working too. Once she returned to work, Jen realized that she was going to have to figure out how to juggle all of the different balls. Now Jen helps working moms balance their careers and homeschool their kids by providing practical solutions.
I asked Jen if it’s even possible to homeschool while working full-time.
Yes it is, and you know, I have an online community, Inside that community, there are working moms from all walks of life. Some work part-time, some work full time, some work outside the home, some work at home, some run their own business and do all three, like I do. It’s totally possible. It’s not easy, but you can do it.
The reality is that working and homeschool is not easy, but it is completely possible. Just in the past 18 to 24 months, we’ve seen more parents trying to work with their kids at schooling at home.
Help For Homeschooling Moms Who Work Outside The Home
There are homeschooling moms who work outside the home. I think back to when my youngest was born. My labor and delivery nurse was actually a homeschooling mom. She worked at the hospital and then she also homeschooled her kids at home.
Here are seven helpful tips for helping you care for your homeschooled children while working outside the home.
7 Options For Childcare While Homeschooling
- Alternate work hours with your spouse.
- Swap with another mom in the homeschool community. (Lots of stay at home moms enjoy bringing in extra money!)
- If possible, rely on family for help.
- Find a trusted babysitter, perhaps one who is studying to be a teacher herself.
- Summer and winter camps are a great option.
- Daycare for children who are younger.
- Have a back-up plan for days when a caregiver is sick or can’t make it.
Listen to the Podcast:
What Hours Do You Homeschool If You Are Working?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have to wake up and get started in the morning home schooling at [8:00] AM and continue until [3:00] PM. This is, after all, what traditional schools do. But if you’re working all day, there other times you can homeschool.
The great thing about homeschooling is that it is flexible.
For starters, there are so many different ways that our kids learn without us. They’re learning through play. They’re learning through board games. They’re learning through nature walks and being outside. These can happen anytime and easily in nonworking hours.
But what about seat work – the core work that needs to be done with you so that you can instruct them and provide help?
Holidays are also a great time to really catch up as needed. You won’t need to take every single holiday and not have fun. Kids don’t need seven hours straight of schoolwork. You can do like an hour or two and then you’re off for the rest of the day.
The condensed homeschool day was one of the things that surprised me most of all coming out of my work as a public school teacher. Homeschooling is so much more efficient than a classroom. Obviously you have less children. You also have less outside distractions. Plus, you know your kids better than any teacher could. We’re going to get a lot of stuff done because we get a lot of stuff done in a much smaller amount of time.
It simply doesn’t take as many hours to homeschool.
Practical Strategies For Working And Homeschooling
1. You Need A Supportive Community
I think every homeschool mom needs a supportive community, but especially working moms. You need to have a community that will know what you’re going through. They know where you want to go. They’ll support you through the highs and the lows.
If you can find a supportive community, it makes homeschooling and working so much easier.
2. Establish Systems And Routines
Systems and routines don’t have to be complicated, but should be based on your family’s unique situation. Routines like meal plans, homeschool planning, chore charts, all the pieces that help your family run a little bit smoother.
3. Find The Right Tools
We need tools to make our life easier. Find a planner that works for you. Choose curriculum that supports your homeschooling and working goals.
Be proactive about how you plan your life, your work and your homeschool.
There’s always emergencies and things that throw you off track. Being prepared for the things that happen every day helps on even the toughest days. Your kids are always going to want breakfast, there’s always going to be laundry, etc. Getting the normal, everyday things ready and prepared eliminates stress and helps you stay on track, both with your job and your homeschooling.
Watch this Episode on YouTube:
Encouraging Independence In Our Children’s Learning
Even if you are working from home, you have to be present for phone calls or they have to be online during certain hours. Working and homeschooling is much easier if your kids are able to work a little more independently. How can we kind of nudge our children into that direction?
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not instantaneous. Moms come to me and say, “Okay, I tried your tips for a week and they didn’t work.” It needs a little bit longer. It is a work in progress goal for your child to build their confidence and be able to work on their own.
Start really, really slow. My kids were used to me sitting right beside them doing the schoolwork. So I started slow. I start with the program they already knew. I didn’t throw anything new at them. Start with something they’re familiar with, whether it’s a workbook, an online program, whatever they’re used to using.
I made sure they understand what was required, what the assignment was. If they had any questions, they had the opportunity to ask. Then I would say, “Do this one question while I go check on your brother or sister.” This got them accustomed to a small amount of independent work. They knew I was leaving physically, but that I was coming back if they got stuck.
Eventually over time, slowly. you can build more and more learning independence. If you are working, you need them to understand that you will not be there at all times. Give them a plan of action if they get stuck, because they’re going to get stuck. They’re going to forget what you said. They’re going to not know what to do.
Your plan of action can be things like:
- Read the question out loud
- Reread the paragraph
- Re-watch the video
- Ask your brother or sister for help
If all else fails, encourage your child to just set it aside until you can talk about it after work.
Take your time, go slow, and manage your own expectations.
Additional Resources For Working Homeschool Moms
Jen offers several different resources to support and assist working homeschool moms. The Working Homeschool Mom club by Jen McKinnon, is free on Facebook and currently has 24,000 members.
If you feel alone, I guarantee you, someone in there has gone through what you’ve gone through and at least have some tips and ideas for you.
Jen also offers a smaller membership called The Working Homeschool Mom Coffee Club. She also created a mastermind for working homeschool moms as well.