Sunday, January 17, 2010

How do you effectively homeschool a child if both parents (or only parent) must work during the day?

If it's possible, would you recommend this education/work arrangement?

I asked this awhile ago but didn't get as many varying opinions as I had hoped for.How do you effectively homeschool a child if both parents (or only parent) must work during the day?
A lot would depend upon the age of the child. Younger children will need direct interaction with the teaching parent to learn. Since the child would be too young to stay home alone, you would need to be sure your caregiver is wiling to work with you. This does not mean they have to sit down and be the teacher. But they would need to be willing to instruct your child to do their school assignments while you are at work. Make a simple assignment chart listing what you expect done while you are gone. Have the child check off the work as they complete each assignment, of put a sticker on the chart as they complete the work. IN other words your child care giver would be reinforcing what you are instructing, the same way they would support you as you potty train a toddler. You would expect the baby sitter to take the toddler to the potty at regular intervals instead of putting a diaper on them and ignoring your training. Therefore the sitter should know exactly what the child is expected to do while you are away and be willing to reinforce this expectation instead of letting the child sit in front of the TV or play video games all day. However, they may not be willing to instruct new material to you child, You can instruct new concepts before you leave for work. Get your child up a half an hour earlier in the morning and either do reading or math with them. Then leave assignments for the child care giver to supervise. Example if you instructed addition with regrouping (carrying) before you leave for work, then have your child do their math page while they are with the baby sitter. You can also instruct new material/concepts when you come home from work. You can also use weekends for some instructional time.

If your student is older and can stay home alone, You can do the same thing. Leave an assignment chart listing what you expect completed while you are at work. Another option is using a cyber school. This could be a great option for all ages.

Switched-on Schoolhouse is a great curriculum that is less most cyber schools. It is available for grades 3-12 and is designed for the child to do their work independently with little teacher direction. The child completes their work on the computer but does not have to go not online. You purchase the subject on CD-ROM. Once you install the application disk and subject disk, you set up the school year, assign the subjects, and the programming does the rest for you. It creates the lesson plans, schedules the work for the entire school year, and grades 90% of the work as your child does it. They have immediate feedback and you have much less grading. You only have to grade essay questions and reports. If your child gets stuck they on a problem, they can skip it and send you a not through the school messaging system. You can answer their questions, assist when needed and grade the questions SOS does not grade when you come home. Most evening it takes me less than 10 minutest to grade and check up my two students progress. SOS even reports how long your student spent on each subject each day. So when my student failed a test and told me he studied for the test, I looked on the daily report only to find he did the entire daily subject in 5 minutes...Definitely not much study time!. When this happens, with a click of the mouse you can erase all the work and reassign it.

Although it's always optimal if a parent can be home during the school day, Homeschooling can be very flexible and you can work around your schedule.How do you effectively homeschool a child if both parents (or only parent) must work during the day?
There are lots of options. Yes, it can work. It has worked for lots of people. But it takes more organization and planning, more determination than the average homeschooling arrangement does.

Get a babysitter to watch the child during work and do ';school'; stuff in the evenings or on weekends--no one said that learning can only occur during working hours.

Get a babysitter to watch the child and oversee some of the ';lessons'; so that the parent might be teaching some material but not necessarily all of it. The lessons could involve ';homework'; on things taught to the child already by the parent, or educational videos to watch, or books to read, or trips to museums, or whatever the parent can think up.

Make arrangements with another homeschooling family to have them watch the child and include the child in their ';lessons.'; This requires a family with ideas and methods that the parent is comfortable with (and you have to make sure it works with local homeschooling laws--would work in some areas and not in others); I've known a few people to do this; it's a benefit for the homeschooling family as they can make some extra income and the child gets a homeschooling experience.

Get a job that allows the child to come along. I knew a woman who worked for a daycare center that allowed her to bring her child along. Some lessons would have to wait until later, when the child could get more personal attention, but some lessons could happen during the day.

Work from home. Again, some lessons would have to wait until the parent isn't working, but the parent may have a flexible schedule and can schedule ';lessons'; when it works for him.

Work different shifts, if there are 2 parents involved. I've known a few families where one parent works during regular business hours and the other works in the early evening or at night. The parents trade off teaching and child-watching duties so that one of them is always home with the children.

Work a shorter work week. I knew a woman who worked at a hospital and worked 3 twelve-hour days a week. She had a babysitter during that time for the kids, but that left 4 days a week--she used 3 for homeschooling and one as a day off. Since homeschooling doesn't require nearly as many hours a week as regular schooling does, she easily covered more in 3 days a week than the local schools did in five days.

I'm sure that there are other ways, too. Depends on how inventive the parent is. Figure out the aspects of the schedule that aren't flexible and those that are. Figure out what's affordable and what's not. Then see what will work for your particular circumstances.
I have done it. I haven't found the homeschooling while working to be that big of a challenge.

You assign the child independent work for when you're not there. You bring it with you the next day and go over it at lunch. You work together a couple of nights a week and on Saturdays or Sundays for a few hours. We also work through the summer year-round, taking a few short vacations here and there.

Basically, you don't have to try to follow a school's schedule; you create your own.

I think the most difficult part of it is child care or arranging rides for your kids to their activities. That was the tricky part of balancing the schedule for us because our kids are always involved with classes or volunteer work or some kind of group projects and field trips.
My husband and I both work. I am blessed enough to have a job in which I can work from home so I am in charge of education. I work out of the house one day a week in which my Mother-in-law watches the kids and does the school work with them. On that day I go out and do what I have to do. The rest of the week I am at home to do the work with them. For us this works.

Every family is different and what works in mine may not work in yours. I started working after we started home schooling and when I found a job I let them know during the initial interview that my children's education came before work. My current employer understood that and we made the agreement that as long as my work is turned in on time I have a job. It has never been late.

It took a little while to find some one who could watch the kids regularly because at the time my MIL was working. She has since injured herself and can no longer work so it gives her time with the grand-kids and something to do.
You can school in the early morning or in the evening. You can use tutors, cyberschool or unschool. You may have to rely on friends, family and at home babysitters during the day.

If I were a single mom I would do my best to continue homeschooling my daughter. But only you know what is right for your family.
My husband works full time and I work part time in the mornings. We homeschool in the afternoons. If I had to work full time there would be no way it could be done. Not with a 6 yr old anyway. Now if she were over the age of 12 then yes it wouldn't be so bad.

I could leave her at home while I work, and she could do her schoolwork. We could then go over it in the evenings.
The question shouldn't be ';how do you'; it should be ';can you';.

Unless your child is old enough to be at home alone all day and an extremely motivated individual learner, it's not going to be remotely effective. Homeschooling is not the right answer for everyone.
One parent has to be home to teach the kids. Or hire a home teacher.

Now if the parent is working from home then there would be balance between work and homeschooling the kids.
What about an Au Pair? They could at least help with homeschooling for part of the day...

1 comment:

  1. Hello, my name is Kristi Gesink and I work for the Homeschooling Company Alpha Omega Publications. I noticed after reading through your blog that you mention our Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum. We would appreciate it very much if you would turn that mention into a link to our site at, that way your readers can simply click on the link and find out more inforamtion.

    If you have any questions please email me at

    Thanks again,
    Kristi Gesink