Can I homeschool if I work full-time?
Yes! but it takes planning and a certain amount of flexibility in your work schedule. Sorting through some questions can help.
- What set time do you have for work and school? (fixed hours for your job/commute, staff meetings, school co-ops, children’s lessons, and online courses)
- What are the most important learning areas that you want to make sure are covered? (This is a good place to start your academic planning. Remember, no student anywhere receives picture perfect education every year in every subject. Set your expectations accordingly. If, for example, geography is not a priority for this season, you could get your child to learn province names and capitals playing a game or using an app such as Seterra.)
- What learning/subject does your child need you present and fully engaged in and what can be completed independently? (Reading out loud is important and requires you to be fully engaged, but if your young child finds comfort with you in the room while he works on math, you can ask them to do math while you’re preparing a meal. There will be subjects, games, apps, and reading that your child can choose to do on their own. For example, if you use a pre-recorded curriculum or an app for spelling dictation, then your child may be able to work on spelling completely independently. Yes, this includes the marking!)
- How should you set up your home? (Does your job or your child’s school require internet connection or a device? What type of space do you both need: a desk, workbench, lab, floor space, etc.? Should you be in different rooms if one of you will be talking with others or listening to an audiobook or an MP3 textbook?)
- Do you have social time and rest built in for both you and your child? (Time to connect with others, creativity, reading, exploring, volunteering, and pursuing interests are all valuable parts of your child’s education. Plus, every person needs human connection and rest. Home education, by design, should not be stressful/pressured. Be wise with your schedule. No person is immune to burnout.)
- What is your plan for your child’s supervision if you are required to leave in order to work? While there are guidelines around appropriate ages and times to leave children alone in general, leaving homeschooled children alone for long periods of time during the day throughout the school year, especially during school hours, is not a good homeschooling practice.
- Tip: you’ll want to have times when you are just “Mom” or “Dad.” Although we learn all day long, not every moment you’re together should be seen, from your child’s perspective, as “school.” It is more than okay to play catch, share a fun video, do chores together, and just be a parent sometimes when you’re not working.
As you do your planning, be sure to think outside the box. If you are travelling twice a week to a sports game out of town, you could listen to your history course during the commute. If one child is waiting during the other’s dance lesson, try doing math or spelling then. Homeschooling is all about flexibility and thinking outside the box. Finally, try to connect with other working homeschoolers – in person or in online support groups for working homeschoolers. It can be very helpful to compare notes and share what’s worked and hasn’t worked with other parents who have been in your situation and understand these challenges.