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My top 10 tips to successfully homeschool while working a job.
Are you wondering how you can work a job and homeschool at the same time? Is this question keeping you up at nights wondering how you can make it work? I have good news for you, YES you can homeschool and work a job. You want to homeschool your children right? Yet you have to work a job? Don’t fret! I have 10 awesome tips to share with you so you can have a successful homeschool adventure with your kids while you are working a job.
These tips are from my personal experience of homeschooling and working a job for 19 years. I have worked part-time and full-time at home and outside the home.
Tip #1: Both mom and dad have to be on the same page.
It is so important for both of you to be on the same page in regards to every area of your lives. This is more than homeschooling and working a job.
Being on the same page with:
- Housework- It needs to be shared instead of mom doing all the housework. Split up housework among all members of the family. Your two year can carry laundry from bedrooms to the laundry room and sort them by color. The teenager can be in charge of cleaning the kitchen daily. Another example is dividing the house into zones for each member of the family depending on their ages.
- Chores-Everybody should have chores. Have a family meeting about chores and decide who gets what chore to help keep things picked up and cleaned. Remember my story of coming home to a mess on the table and kitchen? This is why everybody should have chores!!
- Responsibilities- Who will be responsible for cooking, mowing, trash, clean up after meals, grading, bill paying, grocery shopping and so on? You can’t do it all as a working homeschool mom. Its time to divide and conquer. You and your husband need to make this decision together as to who gets what.
- Outsource subjects-What subjects will you outsource? Will you do online classes or local co-op? Who will take the kids to classes and pick them up? How much can you budget for classes? Discuss how many classes the kids will take.
- Teaching- Who will teach each subject? Will you be the primary teacher or will you split the subjects with your husband? What is the budget for homeschooling (including outsourced subjects/classes)? The budget for your homeschool should be agreed upon between you and your husband.
Always have meetings with your spouse each week about each of these important items to keep your home, homeschool, and life running in a positive direction.
Tip #2: Find a local Homeschool co-op.
Local Homeschool groups are great for either supplementing or for your core classes that you may not have time to teach at home. It’s also great for your kids to make friends and socialize.
Make sure both you and your spouse are on the same page about what groups you will join. Are you joining for classes or field trips or just community support of homeschoolers? There are groups that just focus on classes and others focus on activities and field trips. We did join a group that offered classes, field trips, activities and mom support group.
If you desire more classes in the groups aim for the groups that have classes that cover a wide variety of ages and the subjects you want your kids to take. Find several in your area and do a visit while they have classes so you can see how they run the classes and look at their handbook.
Pick one that suits your family’s needs the best. A caution: Don’t fall into the trap of signing up for every class they offer. Select the co-op that will help you accomplish your goals for your kids.
Tip #3: Find family members and friends who can help you.
Family and friends are huge assets for homeschool families. I have been very fortunate that my parents helped me on this journey of homeschooling my kids.
I had friends who were homeschoolers that helped me. They helped me by swapping materials or taking my kids to co-ops with them. If you do not have friends that homeschool then make friends with the moms in the co-op. Sometimes you may need them to take them on field trips or to classes if you are working outside the home.
Also, you can barter teaching classes with your friends or members of the co-op. For example, You love math but your friends hate math so you can teach math while she can teach something else.
Possibly help teach something they are passionate about? Ask around, you will be surprised at how many of your friends and family would help you out. Another example, a family I know whose husband’s mother is an artist. She taught art to her grandchildren. What a wonderful way to include your parents in teaching your kids something they are passionate about.
Tip #4: Outsource your most difficult subject to teach
We live in an era of technology that will help us accomplish our goals in homeschooling our children especially in middle school and high school. This tip is geared towards middle school and high school students.
There are many ways to outsource your difficult subjects.
- local community college/university-“dual enrollment”
- Online schools/classes-there are live classes and self-paced courses
- Retired teachers who can tutor or hold smaller classes
I outsourced Math as I didn’t have time to sit down with the kids and teach them math. I hired a math tutor who has an online math class for homeschoolers across the nation. She was a huge blessing for me.
We also used the local university during the last two years of high school. My boys took math, speech, Astronomy, Psychology, and English. My 2nd son started a business course while he was in high school. I highly recommend this for high school because your high school students would be able to earn high school AND college credits at the same time. This is called dual enrollment.
If you have younger kids and you need to outsource a subject or several subjects, I recommend a homeschool group for this or find a small group of homeschool moms who barter teach each other’s kids. I find a small group or homeschool group work best for younger kids.
My younger kids enjoyed going to their co-op classes. I asked them what their favorite class was at the elementary level. My last two kids told me the Human Body class using the Young Explorer series by Apologia which was written by Jeannie Fulbright.
Another favorite class all three went to was the Butterfly class where they studied the monarchs. We had a blast doing that class. Yep, I had a lot of fun. We had several Monarch butterflies we watch hatch and then we released them.
Tip #5: Have a set schedule for your kids.
This is very important to have. Set a schedule that works for you. Do not copy other people’s schedule. Your life and situation are different than everybody else. You can use a pen and paper method to do this or Google Doc calender. There is a wonderful app called Trello which I use to keep track and schedule my kid’s school. Use a scheduling method that works best for you and your family. Having a set schedule helps your kids know when you will be home and what you will be doing with them while you are home.
Your kids need to know what they will be doing while you are home with them. It is good to have a specific time for each subject you will be teaching them while you are home. You determine how much time will be spent on a subject. The kids will also need to know what you expect them to work on while you are working at home or away from home. At first, there will be a lot of tweaking of the schedule. Will your spouse teach some subjects while you are gone? Are you the primary lesson planner for your spouse’s responsibility of teaching certain subjects? If you are the primary lesson planner, there needs to be a discussion between the two of you how much time your spouse will spend teaching and how much you need to plan for them.
Once you have a schedule set, it’s very important to stick with the schedule so your kids will be prepared for the day. Schedule their wake up times to bedtimes. I scheduled 30 min intervals when my kids were younger. I made sure we stick to the schedule. In the beginning of each semester, there is always tweaking of the schedule until it fits our daily life activities. Within a few weeks of each semester, we have a set schedule.
Finally, have a “Sick Schedule”. There will always be a sick kid or dr appts day. Determine what is the most important subject to get done no matter what. Ours were Reading and Math. If I can do those to things on a bad day, it’s a very good day!!!
Tip #6: Be open to other homeschool methods that might work better for you.
This tip is a big tip and another post topic. I won’t go into details on methods here. I will with another post in the future. The main thing is always to keep an open mind about other homeschool methods that may work better for you. Let me give you an example: In the beginning of my homeschool journey, I was more of textbook homeschool mom. I was doing public school at home which I thought was best for us.
However, I was so wrong to do this because none of us were happy with the program. I found classical education via Well Trained Mind. It truly worked for us and we had fun. However, as the kids got older, it got harder for me to plan their lessons so even though I stayed with Classical Ed I turned to Tapestry of Grace for about four years. I turned to more of an eclectic homeschool mom where I gathered the best of each method to school my kids and fit my schedule of working away from home.
One method may be best one year but the following year you may have an issue with that method. You have to keep an open mind each year you homeschool. It may change year to year so keep an open mind about this. It was a lifesaver for me when I started having an open mind about different methods. Don’t fall into the trap of being loyal to one method over the others. There is nothing wrong with changing methods or become an eclectic homeschool that follows more than one method.
Here are some materials I used to find out what methods would work for our homeschool. The Homeschool Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles combines the methods and learning styles together. It was an eye-opener for me and helped me make high school go a lot smoother.
Lastly but not the least, it’s my favorite book on choosing methods and curriculum for homeschool. Joyce Herzog’s Choosing and Using Curriculum: Your Guide to Home Education. She talks about different types of curriculum and homeschool styles. I highly recommend this book.
Tip #7: Do not copy public school into your homeschool.
This was my mistake in the beginning. Copying public school drove me up the wall. I did the whole schoolroom with desks as well as wall coverings of maps and charts. My thought was, I had to duplicate public school to be a very successful homeschool mom. After two years, I realized it was not true. It caused stress for the kids as well as for myself. We were not relaxed at learning.
Once I stopped this and starting doing school the Well Trained Mind way, we enjoyed it so much. My whole house became the school. We combined subjects and did block scheduling of History and Science. I got rid of desks and schoolroom. We kept the room for a library which all of us loved. The kids and I had fun doing school all over the house and outside. As parents, we want to make school fun for our kids esp if we are working a job. It will reduce the stress of schooling your kids when you are enjoying it and having fun. Most of all, we took our kids out of school right?? Why copy it?
Tip #8: Consider utilizing online tools to help you.
I have several online tools that I used for helping my kids and I stay in touch or on track. I used OneNote to put all of my plans and schedule in it. This is through Microsoft so your kids will have to have their own account with Microsoft in order to be able to access your OneNote. I love OneNote.
Another tool that is similar to OneNote is Evernote. I never used Evernote but I have heard many homeschool mom uses it and love it. It is similar to OneNote and there are several things that each does that the other doesn’t do.
Another tool I used was Google Drive Docs. Each kid will have to have their own Gmail in order to access your Google Docs.
The most recent tool I use is Trello. I love Trello!!!! My kids can chat with me through Trello. They can leave me notes on the cards in Trello. It is more visible for me to see what they have done and haven’t done. If they need help with something that I had them do, they can mark it and I get the notifications about it. Those are the top four online tools I recommend to all homeschoolers needing a way to keep track of their kid’s schoolwork.
Tip #9: Make friends with your neighbors and let them know.
Always do this no matter what. Let them know you are homeschooling the kids. You do not want them to call authorities for truancy. Introduce your kids to them once you have met them and can trust them. Always be nice to them. Have your kids address them with Mr. and Mrs. This is so important to do this. We all have heard stories about neighbors calling authorities because they didn’t know they were homeschooling. A plus side to this is they may have a passion for a subject such as Art or music or history which they can share with your kids.
Tip #10: Make time for Professional Development.
Yes, we need professional Development. The way I do this is through Homeschool Convention. I go to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio every year. The convention offers a variety of classes for us to learn about a method, a subject, how to use a particular curriculum that a speaker sells, and general homeschool life.
Bonus part of the convention is the exhibit hall where you can talk directly with curricula writers/owners or store owners that actually can help you select materials one on one. Most conventions have a teen track and kids track for the kids in your life. My kids always enjoyed the teen track conference when I go to the Great Homeschool Convention. I highly recommend both parents go to the convention together. Most states have a state homeschool association that host convention in their own state. Check into it and book a ticket plus a possible hotel stay.
I hope these tips help you on your journey in homeschooling while working a job. Tell me what your favorite tip is. I would love to hear from you.