Wednesday, March 10

Homeschooling While Working: Possible with Planning {GIVEAWAY!}

If you have ever wondered whether you can manage working while homeschooling, the answer is yes.

But, it isn't an easy task!

Then again, nothing around parenting a child is either.

My hope with this article is that you will find inspiration and tips to make homeschooling while working a reality.

My Backstory: Working While Homeschooling

When I read an article for tips or other guidance, I often look at the author's background to see why they have expertise in the area.

Consider this my "resume" showcasing the variety of work I have done while homeschooling multiple children. Along with the paid work listed, I have typically had volunteer positions in the community or at our church.

  • August 2006: Began homeschooling (pre-K, 1st and 4th grades)
    • I was already a per diem instructor with the American Red Cross, which continued until October 2010 when our 4th son was born.
  • January 2010: Moved to Alaska & was busy with settling and a new baby
  • Summer 2012: Began earning some money from Day by Day in Our World
    • (beyond in-kind earnings from reviews.)
  • June - November 2013: Marketing and Development Coordinator, Temporary at a nonprofit in Anchorage, AK (covered 2 ladies on maternity leave)
  • June 2013 - December 2014: Per Diem Instructor for American Red Cross in Alaska.
  • 2015 - 2018 School Years: Taught science classes/labs in my home for other homeschoolers. Also had a piano student.
  • August 2017 - February 2018: Volunteer Coordinator for ShiftCon conference
  • November 2017 - April 2018: Sales Representative
  • June 2018 - July 2019: Night Auditor & Gallery Host at a Hyatt Place (full time from October of 2018)
  • December 2018 - February 2019: Part-time temp job in an office
  • July 2019: moved out of Colorado to Mississippi (lower cost of living)
  • August 2020: final move out of Alaska & began part-time contract work in marketing for a magazine

I am almost exhausted just looking at that. Earning a small income from my sites has continued since it began in 2012.

Things Learned Homeschooling While Working

By no means is this an exhaustive list of things I've learned. However, it is a list that should provide tips for the weary working parent who is trying to homeschool a child.
Planning is Paramount

I can not stress this enough. If you do not have a plan, then it is quite likely you'll get nowhere quick.

I have had at least 1 high school student in the house since 2012. And, younger siblings at the same time. If I don't plan up front, the year can become a real mess.

Create Their High School Roadmap

For a high school student, you need a roadmap of coursework for their time in high school. I highly recommend looking at what colleges expect for coursework as well as your state's requirements.

24 credit hours is standard for most college prep although some states will accept 21 credit hours for a high school diploma.

Some subject areas are considered musts (e.g. English, Math, Science and Social Sciences) while some credit hours are used for electives. Within each of those subject areas, there are commonly accepted courses (e.g. Algebra I or World History.)

I highly recommend talking with your high school student to create this road map. Each year, they may want to adjust based on changing interests or post-high school plans.

If you are curious about my approach to what they take, I share some of that in this post on How to Homeschool High School (and Keep Your Sanity!)
Layout A Schedule for Each Term

Take time each summer to map out their work for the upcoming year. This begins with what subjects they'll study and then what materials will be used.

Then, plan a schedule of work for each term. Some curriculum items may have a lesson guide included while others need you to set the pace.

I've used a variety of tools (digital and print) to do this. The digital ones can be great for recordkeeping and calculating final grades each term.

Get a FREE Homeschool Planner.

Establish "Controls" to Keep Everyone On Task

There are different things that can be considered "controls" when wanting to ensure things are being done.

First off, there is a control of devices and internet access.

By the time a student reaches high school, they are most likely doing at least part of their schoolwork with a computer or tablet. The temptation to 'play' when they should be working can be great even for a high school student.

There are router settings that can prohibit usage at a certain time of the day (e.g. when they should be sleeping) and there are subscription programs that block designated sites or types of sites when internet access is granted.

Secondly, there is the use of your plan and regular checkpoints on work that also serve as controls for keeping everyone on task.

Giving a schedule to the child for their work for the day or week is the first step.

The next step (and sometimes harder to do for the working parent!) is to collect it by a set time each day or for the week, grade, and record.

For a more intrinsically motivated student, collecting work for the week may work. For a student who is prone to distractions when you are not home, a daily accounting of work may be needed for a while.

Enlist Help From Other Family Members

This help could be directly related to home education or be tasks that help the house run.

When I was working full-time out of the home in Colorado, I tasked son #2 with guiding his younger brother through math and spelling. Both were easy to follow and would be waiting for me to grade when I got home. I then did history and science with my son on days I wasn't working during the day.

When the US government furloughed everyone for a few months starting in December 2018, I enlisted some help from my husband. During those months, I had both my full-time hotel job AND a temporary office manager position. 60 hours per week not including commuting time meant less time to do one on one learning with my son. Meanwhile, my husband was home and able to take on homeschooling tasks.

Now, my help comes in the form of a rotation of dinner responsibilities. With four boys at home, I am cooking dinner every 5th night instead of daily.

Establish Work Hours & Zones

This one is crucial when working out of your home.

Some people are able to create a private workspace in their homes. That makes creating a work zone easier.

However, it is possible to work from your kitchen table, too. Setting work hours and finding a way to ensure the family knows it is work time is the challenge.

Suggestions for cues that it is work time for you:

Make a small 'sign' that says working so kids know to not interrupt.

Wear headphones as a visual cue.

Designate specific hours of the day & guard them for working only!

Having set school hours and a spot to do their school work may also help your child with their own work.

I know several "work at home" parents who sit at the table alongside a student as they both do their work.

This is how my youngest (5th grade) does most of his schoolwork now. Brief interruptions (to clarify something) are okay so long as I am not on a call. Once he is done for the day, he is free to do just about anything he wants.

You can read more of my thoughts on this and scheduling in How to Guide Your Child Learning at Home.

Find Your Support Network

One of the blessings of the internet is that you are not limited to homeschool support groups in your local area. Although, I do highly recommend finding one if you are able.

As much as I enjoy the benefits of a homeschool group, there are times when you may need a bit more support. This is where a mentor can come in to play.

The mentor won't tell you everything you need to do. Rather, they can be a guide as you work out the path to take.

This could be anything from establishing a plan, setting a schedule, or selecting materials for teaching subjects.

Most importantly, they are the cheerleader in your corner encouraging you along the way.

FREEBIE!  Download the Homeschool Planner with calendar pages for Spring 2021

GIVEAWAY!  Enter to win a 45-minute coaching / mentor call ($69 value) on the Homeschooling Upper Grades landing page!

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Laura is a lifelong learner with degrees in Chemistry, Neuroscience, and business/marketing, who enjoys helping others.

She is the mother of 4 boys, two of which are homeschooled high school graduates. One is in community college and the other has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. A third son is graduating high school in May 2021.

You can find family-friendly posts (including 12+ years of homeschool reviews) on Day by Day in Our World and women-oriented ones on Life Beyond Kids.

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