Tips for a Working Homeschool Parent
For some families, foregoing two incomes is not an option, but their child’s education is a priority. In these cases, both parents are working full or part time, and one or both parents are acting as a learning coach for their student. One minute you’re practicing multiplication, the next, you’re answering emails, and the day can seem pretty overwhelming.
Luckily, with some planning, patience, and flexibility, it is completely possible to work while schooling at home, whether as a homeschooler, or in an online school. We reached out to families who have “been there, done that,” and they shared their years of collective wisdom, advice and experience to help you get off to a strong start.
Work from home
Corinne C. is a freelance writer, and works from home. “For me, it’s all about preparation and organization,” she says. Her parents were both teachers, so she grew up watching them prepare lesson plans every week, and now she does the same thing on Sundays for her 11th grader who is enrolled in an online school. She sets up an Excel spreadsheet with a different sheet for each day. For each class, there is a column for work time, online class sessions, the current unit, the day’s activities, and what graded assignments are due. On Sunday evening, she goes through each class agenda for the coming week and fills in her spreadsheet, then prints out worksheets and downloads files as needed. Each day’s agenda and associated paperwork goes into a file folder on the desk labeled for that day.
“Each morning, my son pulls out the day’s agenda and gets to work. If I’m not working on an assignment of my own, I can keep tabs on his progress in real time. If I have my own work to focus on, or have meetings with clients or interviews that take me out of the house, I have a handy reference of what he’s supposed to have accomplished. He has ADHD and an anxiety disorder, so whether everything gets done is another story!”
Take Your Child to Work
Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) mom, Pamela G., and her husband are self-employed, and have an office building that they go to every day. Their son goes with them at 8:00 a.m. every morning, and has his own “office/classroom” in which he has all of his school books, etc. She says “it works great for him to maintain focus and be on a daily schedule.”
Channele W. has been an OHVA mom for three years, and both she and her husband have full-time careers outside of schooling their kids from home. They’re fortunate enough to be in a position that allows them to adjust their schedules, so her husband works during the day while she teaches the kids, and she works evenings and weekends. She admits that “at times it gets pretty hectic trying to juggle everything, but sticking to a schedule has helped me tremendously. I do have to wake up a little earlier to get a jump start on the day, but that’s nothing a cup of coffee can’t handle.” She adds that “working with my eldest who is a little more self reliant with his own coursework, has worked out very well.”
Another online school parent, Katie S., works weekend shifts so she is able to be home all week with her kids.
Trisha S. was with OHVA for four years, and worked part-time outside of the home the whole time. She said “the beauty of doing school at home was that we didn’t have to do the traditional 8-3 hours. We adjusted schooling, so the kids learned best. For my older one that was later in the evening, and my younger one was early afternoon, and I worked in the mornings.” She admits she was tired, and online class sessions (called Class Connects) were usually in the form of a recording, not live, but it worked for them.
Ask someone else to step in as the Learning Coach
Sometimes a family member or neighbor is able to act as the “Learning Coach” while the parents go into work. Another OHVA mom, Joyce S., says she was able to get her mom’s help with some of her child’s courses. There were days when it all didn’t get done, but they just kept working when she got home.
Ashley S. works full-time as a registered nurse, and works three 12 hour shifts each week. The family has a babysitter who acts as the “assistant Learning Coach,” for her daughter and Ashley writes out what pages in her workbooks need to be done that day, any reading that needs to be done, and if she needs to attend any Class Connect sessions. All of that information goes on a white board, and they check the items as they’re completed. She says that they do more on her days off, for the sanity of the babysitter. She loves that the OHVA program allows you to choose to catch up over the weekend, or get ahead if you know it’s going to be a busy week.
Working homeschool or online school parents, share your experience and tips in the comments!
Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.