This has been quite the challenging year for me. We made the choice to homeschool my oldest, as the neighborhood school was doing poorly. I knew at the time that it would be difficult to add in the time it takes to properly homeschool a child to the time I need for working, but sometimes that’s what you have to do.
Despite the quite reasonable concerns of many, it went pretty well. The school year is nearly over and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make working at home and homeschooling work.
Be Realistic About Time Commitments
Homeschooling takes a lot of time out of the day. How much depends on the curriculum you choose, the rules you have to follow in your area for the program you choose, and how fast your child works on assignments.
Many homeschoolers manage to get it all done in much less time than their kids would be in school. That’s not always the case and you should be prepared for the fact that sometimes days run long.
Sometimes kids try to goof off rather than work on assignments. They may need a lot of help on some assignments, and less help on others.
You’ll have your own obligations to have things ready for your student each day. Some assignments will need advance preparation on your part, which may take away from time in the evenings that you had hoped to work.
With all that the homeschool requires, you still have to keep up with whatever time commitments you have for your work. This is especially important if your family relies on the income to get by financially.
Heavy Duty Time Management
If you’ve worked at home or homeschooled, you know how important time management is. Put them together and you have some serious time to manage.
As with working at home, adding in homeschooling means talking to your spouse and the other members of your family about where you’re going to need extra help. You still have all the rest of your daily routine to manage around the house, and you shouldn’t expect to be doing it all alone. Look at chores the kids can help with as well as places you need more help from your spouse.
Many homeschool families have a schedule. They’re often pretty flexible, so that you can change things around at need. Nonetheless, they’re necessary for most families, at the very least to help ensure that everything gets done that is needed.
You will quickly become aware of your child’s best working time. My daughter often does well in the mornings, getting her going again after lunch is often difficult, taking a day from one that had looked like an early finish to a late one.
Your schedule will also help you to remember when you need to work. You should still try to take at least one day a week off to enjoy time with your family, but that means you need to be absolutely certain you’re getting everything else you need to accomplish done on the other days of the week.
Be Sure Your Work Is Flexible Enough
You aren’t going to be able to cope with both homeschooling and working at home if your work schedule doesn’t cooperate. I work for me, so it’s pretty easy to make things flexible enough that I can deal with both schedules. Tiring, but possible.
Most times, you’re looking at the ability to mostly work evenings and/or weekends. If your child is self directed enough, you may be able to work as he or she goes through the schoolwork, so long as your work may be interrupted as questions and problems arise.
My work computer and my daughter’s school computer are side by side, which has been a great advantage since I can be interrupted when she needs me. It’s not like she wants me hovering as she writes a report or works a math problem, but if she has a question it’s nice having me available to her. Because I don’t usually need to talk to people on the phone for my work, this isn’t a problem.
Are we homeschooling next year? No, the situation at the neighborhood school has changed, as they’re becoming an International Baccalaureate charter school in the fall, so we’re giving that a try. The district decided to close the old school at the end of this school year due to poor performance, pretty much justifying my homeschool decision, I’d say.
I did enjoy the homeschooling, and if it weren’t for the change in the neighborhood school, would have continued with it. California Virtual Academy was a great choice for us, and now I know what to do if we ever have such problems with a poor quality school in the future. Their program is really challenging but fun to work with.