Do you feel that homeschooling will be the best choice for your family, but you don’t want to, or aren’t able to, give up your career? I’m here to tell you that you can do both! How do I know? Because I have done it myself. Let me tell you my story and be encouraged that you can homeschool and work at the same time!
Last year, when we decided we were going to homeschool our Kindergartner, I also happened to be working part-time as a Medical Lab Tech at our local hospital. I worked a lot of irregular hours, early mornings, late nights, weekends, on-call overnight, holidays. I also worked part time as the Worship Director at my church. On top of that, I also carried the health insurance for myself and our kids, and still had student loans to pay off. Quitting my job wasn’t an option at the time, but I also couldn’t get over the fact that in my heart I knew homeschooling would be the best choice for our family.
My husband and I had talked about it. We were convinced. Homeschooling would give our family something that many families sacrifice the moment they start sending their kids to public school; freedom and flexibility. My husband’s work is unique in that he can work from anywhere that has an internet connection. Which means we’ve always had the possibility of our family being able to take “working vacations” with him. We are also a family that loves road-tripping, and we saw public school would interfere with our flexibility to do the things we enjoy. Ultimately, homeschooling would allow us to “do school” around our family’s lives, and work, instead of our lives revolving around the public school system.
However, even though we were believers in homeschooling, I was afraid that not staying home full-time with my kids was going to short-change their education. Being I’m a first generation homeschooler, I have a lot of pre-conceived notions that I have about what school “looks like”, being I spent thirteen years in the public school system. In my mind, school has always been eight-to-three, Monday through Friday, butt-in-a-chair at the mercy of a poor teacher trying to keep all thirty kids on the same track. Even though I now know that a true education doesn’t happen that way, it was still very much ingrained in me that “real school” is patterned after the public school system.
Needless to say, I’ve had to do some extreme mindset changes about how I think about education. I’ve confronted questions such as:
- Can my kids really learn what they need to know from me? Don’t I have to be a teacher?
- How am I going to put in seven hours a day of school when I’m working?
- Are my kids going to learn if every day has a completely different schedule?
- Am I going to burn myself out working and teaching?
Let me address each of these questions:
- Can my kids really learn what they need to know from me? Don’t I have to be a teacher? The short answer is yes, you really can teach your kids, and do it well. And no, you don’t have to be a teacher. Please read this blog entry I made addressing this very thing!
- How am I going to put in seven hours a day of school when I’m working? Well, you don’t! I’m learning that homeschooling, especially in those early elementary years, takes a mere hour, or even less! When kids are young, they need play more than anything. They need time outside, exploring. They need to ask questions and be curious, and you need to be paying attention to these opportunities to learn together about what they’re interested in. I’ve heard it said that as a homeschooler, you should be more of a facilitator than a teacher. So no, kids don’t need seven daily hours of straight education to learn. Your kids will be learning in the mornings, evenings, weekends, and whenever you are home. You just have to be willing to set time aside with them, and to listen. If you are proactive, your kids will be learning around your work schedule, and it doesn’t matter if you work full-time or part-time.
- Are my kids going to learn if every day has a completely different schedule? This is one of those notions that I had bought into hardcore being I was public schooled. Everything was a set schedule; the start and end time of school, recesses, lunch, mornings of reading and writing, afternoons of math and history. Every day was just like the one before. Please believe me when I say that your child will learn, even if your homeschooling is a different schedule every day! Even if you don’t do every subject every-single-day! Even if you skip a day! I didn’t follow a consistent schedule with my kids when I was working. We simple would learn together they days, evenings, mornings I was home. And it absolutely works! If you aren’t convinced that kids need a definite schedule, I cannot recommend the following books enough. These books changed my mindset about education more than anything else:
“Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsary Schooling.” John Taylor Gatto. (One of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read, and I am not exaggerating.)
“The Unschooling Unmanual”. Nanda Van Gestel, et al. (short, essay styled, quick-reads from a variety of writers that will make you a believer!)“Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World.” Ben Hewitt. (A fun read with good perspective to show you can school any way that works for your family!)
4. Am I going to burn myself out working and teaching? This can be a tricky question, but I think I will answer, “only if you let it!” My advice is that above all, allow your homeschool to be flexible! Being flexible means you don’t choose a curriculum that you feel you have to follow to the tee day-in and day-out. Being flexible means saying “not today” after an especially hard day at work. Being flexible means that on days your energy is up and your kids are especially interested in what you’re doing, you run with it for as long as you can, even if it’s late into the night, or on a weekend. Also, think about this: What would the burnout be like if your kids were in the public school system? Not only would you be working, but you’d be getting them up and out the door early, Monday through Friday. They would be coming home with homework that you would still have to take the time helping them with, even on the days when you’re exhausted, and they are exhausted too! So what I’m trying to say is, homeschooling won’t cause you to burnout any more than public schooling ever would! Just be flexible!
I will address one more thing here. Finances. Most working parents send their children to a daycare while they are at work. And yes, daycare is not cheap. This is one area you may have to sacrifice in order to homeschool your child. If you don’t have “Grandma” to take your kids while you are at work, you are still going to have to fork over some dough to have your school-aged kids in daycare. I was fortunate that my mom took my kids while I was working, and never had to have them in daycare. You have to know for yourself and your own situation what you are willing to do, and pay, in order homeschool. I will tell you that for me personally, any sacrifice we have made in order to educate our kids at home, has been more than worth it! If there’s a will, there’s a way.
I encourage you to take that big step of faith and start homeschooling, even though you are working! If you make it your priority, it will succeed!
If you have any more questions you’d like me to address about how to work and homeschool, please leave a comment! I would love to talk with you!
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