Working and homeschooling: it IS still possible
It would seem like being gainfully employed and homeschooling would be an impossible combination. But, with a little creativity and flexibility many parents are experiencing work life balance at home.
The stay-at-home orders from the Covid-19 pandemic forced many non-essential employees to work from home. Add in children staying home from school, and parents across the country were at their wit’s end adapting to this paradigm shift. But, prior to this, there have been parents working while successfully homeschooling their children. While this delicate work-life balance isn’t always easy, it is possible. Each family has their own reasons to homeschool, and choosing to work in or outside of the home is an important part of that decision. Financial responsibilities, single parenting, or supporting aging parents is among some of the many reasons parents choose to work and homeschool.
Since the pandemic has forced many parents to work from home, families are choosing the flexibility of homeschool instead of virtual public school. Employers are navigating through the provincial restrictions and, in many cases, more supportive of working parents with children at home.
The challenges of the ongoing global crisis is actually providing a unique opportunity for working parents to embrace homeschooling.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with work and dealing with kids at home. That’s why Homeschool.Today connected with a couple of Homeschool Working Mothers to share their insights based on their experiences.
Cheryl’s Story: Paramedic
After schools were closed in March 2020, Cheryl started homeschooling her 6 and 4 year old boys. Her oldest son was enrolled in Junior Kindergarten, but she really wanted to homeschool him from the beginning. She remembers putting him on the bus everyday and something pulling at her heart. Although he initially loved going to school, it wasn’t long before he experienced significant struggles, “Covid gave the extra push we needed to finally do it. It wasn’t because we were scared of covid, but rather we knew our son would not thrive in what school was becoming.”
As a part time paramedic, Cheryl works the same shifts every week so her husband knows what days are “daddy days”. Her husband is self-employed and can manage his hours accordingly, “As the kids get older on daddy days he’ll teach them car maintenance, about his trade, how to fix things themselves etc.” For Cheryl, working part time still provides an opportunity to earn an income and enjoy a flexible homeschool schedule.
So far Cheryl says the best part of homeschooling and working is the time she gets to spend with her boys, “We have become even closer than I could have imagined.” Their flexible schedule has allowed them all to enjoy life more and provides greater opportunities for relaxation, “We get more done sitting at our table for 45 min one-on-one than they would in 7 hours in a classroom, and then the rest of the day is ours.”
Since beginning this journey, Cheryl admits to feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of comparison to other homeschool families. Although she is learning to overcome this challenge, Cheryl continues to embrace her children as unique individuals. She also accepts that every day doesn’t have to be perfect, “But the feeling you get when you see something come together in your child’s mind, when they understand something for the first time or read their first words, knowing that you helped them get there – that feeling is unbelievable.”
Despite the challenges of the provincial wide lockdown, Cheryl says connecting with your “village” is essential, “There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom out there from successful homeschooling families. You also lean on each other when you need to and offer encouragement.” Cheryl also recommends finding out how your children learn best and don’t be afraid to try different things if something doesn’t work, “Be patient! Amazing things will happen, but not overnight.
Tanya’s Story: Environmental Engineer
Prior to Covid, Tanya’s oldest son was in school, so she was looking forward to seeing physical copies of the curriculum sent home. Unfortunately, the school only included virtual learning during the first provincial lockdown and Tanya was concerned about the excessive screen time.
Although her son missed seeing his school friends, he was actually happy not to return in the fall, “With before and after school, I found he was irritable and he didn’t like that he couldn’t see his little brother most of the day”. Now Tanya’s boys are in Junior Kindergarten and Grade 1 and enjoy their flexible homeschool schedule.
Tanya says it has been much less stressful since she began homeschooling while working from home. She also enjoys not having to spend wasted hours on the stressful commute to work. Since homeschooling, she recognized that the public school work was actually too easy for her oldest son and now she can provide a greater challenge for him. Her schedule is flexible and she chooses to work in the evenings when the kids are in bed and on the weekends.
Tanys admits that working from home and homeschooling requires a certain sacrifice that can be difficult in the beginning, “it might be tough to give up some personal time, but if you’re organized it’s still possible to have some downtime.”
Tanya has discovered the importance of getting to know her children to determine what approach works best, “younger children may need a play approach [to learning] while the older ones can sit down and listen more.” She also recommends getting children more involved in a variety of activities at home to avoid the dreaded cry of boredom, “Get them involved in gardening, family/household projects, composting etc.” She also encourages parents to adjust the schedule to take advantage of the weather when needed, “If the forecast calls for rain in the afternoon, go out in the morning and homeschool in the afternoon!”
The delicate balance of working and homeschooling is possible, even during uncertain times. With a little patience and ingenuity, you can achieve a healthy life-work balance.
Take advantage of the variety of home education resources to keep you updated and motivated. With the right tools and determination, the possibilities are endless for your family.