How to work AND home school your child

People are always telling me that they would LIKE to home school their children but they work, so they can’t.  To me, that’s one of the laziest excuses out there.  If that is you, take a moment to really examine what you are saying.  Do you REALLY want to home school your children?  Why?  Is it just because home schooling is becoming fashionable and you THINK it will make you look like a better parent if you say you wanted to?  If yes, then STOP RIGHT HERE! You need to do what you think is best for your children AND you.  It may be best for your kids, but if it isn’t best for you as well then you’ll suck at it and it will be the worst thing for your family.  However, if you REALLY and TRULY want to home school your child – for WHATEVER reason – but you are under the impression that you can’t because of a job, then read on!  I can help you do this! So let’s examine some myths around working and home schooling.

MYTH #1 – You can’t home school your children and work

Right off the bat, I’m living proof that if you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way.  For the first 6 “educational” years of my older sons, I was a single mom.  In addition to home schooling them, I also had a job as a director of a library, I was going to college myself full-time AND I started this business!  I also dated, found a fantastic man, got married and had another child.  Yes, things were stressful but I LOVED it because it was exactly what I wanted to do.  You may wonder how my kids faired during this time.  My oldest son is in 10th grade and started college-level courses last year. He has taken, and aced, Trig and Calculus classes already.  My 2nd oldest, who is in 8th grade, is studying for the National Latin Exam, writing reports daily for History as well as starting Trig himself this year.  On top of these educational achievements, they are also very into baseball.  Most of the time, they play on at least 2 different teams each and have the ability, according to their coaches, to play baseball in college.  My 3-year-old loves to do math and read, along with tons of science experiments.  Now, I know that sounds daunting, but remember, home schooling is important to me so I make sure I make the time.  If you want something bad enough, there isn’t anything you can’t do!

Here are some tips to create a successful work life as well as a home school life:

  • Really think about what you WANT to do and WHY
  • Create a mission statement for your home school, make it and hang it up where you can see it everyday
  • Find a to-do app on the computer/phone/paper that you can actually stick to using. Personally, I use Chaos-Control because they can very easily set reoccurring tasks and it works on all my devices.
  • Get routines. Once a routine is set, then it because second nature.  Don’t do too much at once – only 1 or 2 habits at a time until they are set are recommended.  The best thing I did was to start to follow net and that REALLY helped me.
  • Embrace that learning can happen ALL. THE. TIME. Not just 8-2! (see Myth #2)

MYTH #2 – I need to work during the school day so I can’t home school

First of all, as I said just up above learning happens all the time, not just doing “school hours”!  Especially when my kids were younger, we did a lot on the days I had off, we did it over the summer, on holidays, at night.  Every state has different laws, but in Pennsylvania, you have to provide school for 180 days between July 1 and June 30.  That leaves over 180 days to do other things – like work.  Once you realize that you only have to ‘teach’ your children for ½ of the days during the year, the stress decreases immensely.

Do you have older kids that can be left at home during the day?  Then you can either use a Cyber-School or you can do what I do and set up a written schedule of what they need to do.  My kids do what they can on their own, then I check it and help them with the parts they didn’t understand.

The big problem comes if you have younger children.  You will need to, obviously, find a safe place for them to be – many times this is with a relative.  However, you may want to seriously consider Myth #3.

MYTH #3 – I have to work so I can’t home school

I hear this all the time.  However, before you discount being a stay-at-home parent, really think about what is important to you.  If you stay-at-home, you will have far less bills, including transportation and clothing costs.  If you work, how many meals do you actually eat out during the month?  If you are like most people, not eating out and preparing all your meals at home is a significant cost.  How much do you spend on school supplies, fundraisers, and all the other ‘extra’ expenses for your child’s education?  Home schooling is very inexpensive.  I budget a total of $400 per year for the ENTIRE YEAR for my children and I spend, what I consider, an enormous amount on their education.  It can easily be done for well-under $100 per child.  In addition, is your child’s education important to you?  I know of several families that sold their houses and the 2nd car to downsize their expenses.  DO NOT DO THIS, or even consider these cost-saving measures if you like your ‘stuff’ too much.  You will resent everything about home schooling if you do and no one will benefit.  Another option is working part-time or different shifts.  This works well for my family where I work when my husband doesn’t.  One of us is home most of the time.  When one of us can’t be at home, I take our toddler to work. This does require a lot of extra cleaning at the office, but it is worth it to do everything I want to do.

MYTH #4 –I WANT to work so I can’t home school

On the other hand, if your career is important to you, you can easily home school if you wanted.  One option is to hire a tutor to work with your children.  Another is to find local co-ops to enroll them in.  If you live in an urban area, you may find ones that meet every day – or, more likely, several that meet once a week but on different days.  You can do what I do, and that is to split my day.  I work from home in the morning for a little bit, then I head to the office around 2:30/3:00 when my husband comes home.  My office is just minutes from my son’s baseball fields so I can drive them or pick them up between clients.  I also do a lot of office work on the weekends when I’m home anyway.

Whatever you decide – the most important thing to truly know is what you FEEL is the best for your family and what will make you fulfilled doing.  Once you know is important to you and why – everything else will fall into place.

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