We started homeschooling seven years ago. For a portion of that time, I was homeschooling and working full time. Is it possible? Can you homeschool and work full time?
Was it easy?
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Homeschooling and Working Full Time. Is it Possible?
My kids were 10 and 7 when I first started to homeschool them and looking back it was super easy.
Those same children are now teenagers and I am happy to say, that with the help of online education programs, are thriving and loving learning at home, in reality, I feel as though we are only part-time homeschooling as they do it all by themselves.
But, like all families who decide to take their kids out of public school to homeschool, we have had our share of problems; one of those was when I tried working full time while home-educating.
Is it possible to work while homeschooling?
Yes, it’s possible (depending on the childs age and your type of work you do).
I will tell you about successful homeschooling friends of mine who still manage to work full time later in the post, but first, let me fill you in on what our homeschool journey looked like and why working full time and homeschooling didn’t work for us.
Our Homeschooling Background:
Before we emigrated to New Zealand and were living in England, homeschooling or home education whatever you wish to call it, was something that had always interested me. But a few things stopped me from giving it a go.
Having a huge mortgage meant that we couldn’t survive on one wage alone. I owned and ran a café at the time, and I certainly wasn’t going to take two kids under 7 with me to work.
Can you imagine? Sonny (my boy) would have eaten all of the profits for a start. If I’m honest, I dreaded the thought of starting something new – and taking the leap.
And I won’t lie, I was under the impression that homeschoolers were a bit weird – another reason I didn’t try harder to make homeschooling an option.
Homeschooling remained a distant fantasy. And off to school, they went.
Education In A Different Country – New Zealand
In 2009 we emigrated to New Zealand. House prices there were lower than the UK, and so financially we were slightly better off. I still thought about homeschooling, it had never left my mind, and now it seemed like a more attainable goal.
Unfortunately, I still had my fears and worried that taking your children out of school was something that only hippies or religious people did, so our first two years of living in New Zealand saw both of my children enrolled at the local primary school.
New Zealand’s attitude to primary school is a lot more relaxed than in the UK. I know people say that the system isn’t as advanced, but I never saw any evidence of this.
What School Looked Like For My kids.
School is school. No matter where you are in the world. There are still twenty-odd children to one teacher, peer pressure is prevalent, and if you don’t know a, b and c, by the time you are nine years old you will be labelled as ‘struggling’.
All the things that annoyed me about school in the UK were still present in New Zealand.
I got involved in my children’s school day as much as I could by volunteering in their classrooms as a helper, but this made me want to bring them home even more.
Sometimes you’re best off not knowing what goes on at school.
On the mornings that I wasn’t staying to help, I’d drop them off at school and wave goodbye. I’d go home feeling empty and sad.
There was so much that I knew I could teach them my own way and at their own pace. Everywhere I looked, places were just screaming out to learned about and explored.
While it was true we could go and do these things together as a family, having two days at the weekend just wasn’t enough, and anyway, the children were always far too tired to do anything by the end of the week.
Everyone has different reasons for wanting to homeschool and yours may be the complete opposite to me.
The most common reasons people decide to homeschool are:
- Bullying at school, leading to the child be totally miserable
- The child is not learning at their own pace. Either feels as though he is being left behind or she is too quick
- Religious beliefs
- Family want to spend as much time together, maybe wants to travel
My reason for homeschooling was a bit of number one and number four.
I became friendly with a lady who was giving my daughter horseriding lessons. She lived down the road from me, on a farm. She unschooled her two boys. I knew nothing about unschooling and so proceeded to ask all of the typical questions about University and socialising. I told her about my daughter’s misery at school and she asked why I didn’t just take her out of school and try ‘unschooling’.
Homeschool Or Unschool?
Unschooling, for those not familiar with the term, is freestyle learning that is very much child led.
The children decide what they want to learn and then dive headlong into learning about it – in whichever way takes their fancy. That might mean spending two weeks curled up in front of the fire reading about the world’s highest structures or collecting driftwood from the beach and taking a week to build their own Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I’m not going to go on about my thoughts on unschooling right now, but just know that if I had my seven years again, this is the way I would go.
I admired the lady down the road for homeschooling and unschooling. She seemed so happy and relaxed. The kids were free and always outdoors.
She started telling me about the local homeschooling community that she was part of, about how there were over 200 kids and that they did all this fantastic stuff together as a group.
I did all the research that I could on homeschooling vs public school and began to plan an escape from school.
In 2011 we decided that we would pull in our belts. Cut back on a few things- no more meals out or buying fancy clothes- in fact, no more clothes unless they were second hand.
We would be buying cheaper wine, and swapped our petrol car with an old but affordable diesel Mitsubishi. All of these things would enable us to survive on one wage for a while. And one wage meant that I could homeschool.
Was Everyone Keen to Make Homeschooling Work?
- Brian, my husband, was ever supportive. He’s a science man so was excited at the thought of being able to teach the kids something I knew absolutely nothing about. He also had his own heating business, so the possibility that both kids could go to work with him and learn how businesses run was a very exciting prospect.
- Sonny and Tessa, as you can imagine, were over the moon. Their mum had just told them they could quit school. Why wouldn’t they be excited? Especially Tessa. She was at that beautiful age where the only person she loved more than her Mum was her Mummy.
- I was excited but scared too. I am a real worry wort I knew it was a massive undertaking and was aware of what the consensus of homeschoolers was. Having been one of those people that thought homeschoolers were weird.
Ten years on and we have lived a life very differently to others.
Now, I would be annoyed if people thought I was normal.
Homeschooling has taught us all that to be different is to be unique. And to be unique is exciting. Back then, I wasn’t aware of this and so was just a tiny bit terrified and worried of what people might think of me.
How Old Were The Children When You Started Homeschooling?
Sonny and Tess were ten and seven respectively when we started to homeschool.
Initially, we told everyone that we were just going to try it for a term. After the first term came to an end, I kept hold of my safety blanket by saying that we would just homeschool until the end of the year.
That year turned into six without me noticing.
I am in no way an expert on homeschooling, but I know what has worked for us and what hasn’t.
In the six years that we have been at home, we have had lots and lots of fantastic times. But we have also had many tears. Mostly always mine. It’s hard being the Mum, especially when that same mum has to tell her daughter that she needs to learn how to spell.
Know that if you are going to undertake to homeschool your kids, then you will need to be gentle with yourself. I suggest practising some self-love exercises – the one person that has to believe that you can do this is YOU!
The First Six Years of Our Homeschooling Journey.
Your homeschooling journey will look completely different to mine. But in the first six years, before I tried to homeschool and work full time, our homeschooling journey was very special.
Like I said, not always easy, but then nothing is. That’s fine. This is how our homeschooling journey looked for the first six years.
Where We Learned
My children have learned mainly on the beach and at our kitchen table. They have learned by living. If they’ve wanted to do a project on pollination we have spent hours laying in a field watching a bee going from flower to flower.
If they ever showed an interest in British history, we would spend a week watching BBC documentaries.
What we Learned.
Before I turned to online maths tuition, Maths was always done through the Singapore Maths Programme. It’s apparently the best in the world, and we used it for five years. It is a fabulous, thorough programme and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you are looking for a teacher-led maths programme, remember though, it does require that you teach it!
If you want to do maths online and be a bit more hands-off then I can recommend the What Kids Learn in Math Class that You Never Learned: Basics course for Udemy. It was one of the most valuable courses in math that my kids did.
Click here for more details on the Udemy maths courses
I’m rubbish at science. I try, I really do, but ask the kids…every single experiment that I’ve ever done has failed. Stupendously I might add, but still, a fail.
I’d spend days researching how to get the yolk of an egg to the outside by spinning it really fast in a pair of tights. I’m not joking; it was a bloody disaster. The kids would almost wet themselves with laughter at my attempts.
It not only cost me a small fortune in eggs and tights but in the end, I forgot why I was even doing the experiment.
Thankfully I found lots of free science course online and used this science experiment book which was brilliant and wonderful.
General English, History, Geography.
We LOVE to travel so right from the beginning of our homeschool journey these subjects were never going to be hard!
Little Passports Homeschooling Subscription
If I can recommend one product to you for all of these subjects it is the monthly subscription to Little Passports.
I came across this wonderful homeschool resource when my kids were still young.
Every month you are sent a package through the post (which my kids used to be bursting with excitement at!) and it is filled with different resources and activities based on somewhere in the world. They adored it.
Honestly, Little Passports is the best ever Geography and English resource for kids that you will find when homeschooling if your kids are curious about the world.
Click here to see how your child can enjoy being a little explorer.
We did lots and lots of reading in those first six years.
Reading covers everything. Don’t forget that. If all you do for five years is read a range of books with your kids, they will learn a MASSIVE amount.
We would spend hours reading on the beach or in the garden. Every time we went in the car, we would listen to a talking book. I could fill pages and pages of the books that we have read, but I just want to recommend the ones that taught my kids (and me) the most.
Books That I Would Recommend For Kids Under 12 Who Homeschool
Red Sails To Capri
Another fabulous book for any child under the age of 12 (and Mothers who are 48). Red Sails To Capri Teaches about Europe, integrity, adventure and business.
The Little Riders
The No Cell-Phone Policy When Homeschooling (older kids)
Homeschooling was easier when the children were younger. Although it demanded more of my time, it was more straightforward. No phones or gadgets vying for their attention.
For the past three years, we have had a no phone policy while they are doing school work.
It’s quite hard to police it though. Short of putting the phones down my pants, so they can’t find it, both of them always seem to find a way to get hold of their phones.
Of course, when confronted about this, the answer is always the same… “I’m just checking the time.”
We don’t have clocks in our house you know.
Homeschooling Your Child and Working Full Time. What it Looked Like For Us.
- Homeschooling while working full time. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible, especially not if your kids are teenagers and are capable of sitting with the work that has been assigned to them.
- As your kids become older, your homeschool routine will change and adapt. By using more online tutors your time will be freed up. As mine was.
- This was probably the insane reason I decided to start my own business again and believed that I could manage both homeschooling and working full time.
- I am addicted to starting new ventures; I get a real buzz from it. I was ready for a new challenge and so decided to build a touring theatre in education company.
- This I did, and it was a huge success. But what was supposed to be a part-time venture took over nearly 40 hours a week of my time for a year. I was homeschooling and working full time, and it wasn’t easy.
- The trouble was not being able to give 100% commitment to either one or the other. I tried to balance both, but in the end, it was too much.
- Educating at home while working full time. It’s not easy. Yes, it helped that the kids were both involved in my business, but at the same time, It was a massive juggling act.
- Sonny was 15 at the time, and he coped fine. He is doing exams through a correspondence course. He’s very independent. I’m only there to advise him on assignments, nag him to get on with his work and tell him to get off Facebook.
- But Tessa? She was only 12 and had to take a bit of a back seat.
- Although I don’t think it did her any harm, in fact, it was probably good for her to see her mum create a business from scratch and then make it all work, I also know it wasn’t easy for her.
- She has been used to having me there to help her and to arrange science experiments that would fail. Yes, it’s made her a lot more independent, but I don’t think either one of us was ready for it, or particularly enjoyed what it did to our homeschool routine.
Would I Recommend Homeschooling And Working Full Time?
Only if you promise not to try and be everything to everyone.
For me? Homeschooling and working full time wasn’t an option. It was just too much of a struggle.
But can you homeschool and work time if you have a plan?
Certainly. You can do anything if you really want to.
How To Homeschool And Work
I totally understand that not everyone is in the financial position to quit their job and homeschool their kids full time. If you are desperate to homeschool but you wish to keep working then let’s look at your options:
Nothing is impossible. If you set things in place beforehand there is no reason you couldn’t homeschool and work. It will depend on your job and the age of your kids.
Invest In Some Excellent Online Homeschool Courses
If you are going to work and homeschool at the same time then you should be in a position to be able to invest some money on excellent online courses to keep your kids busy.
If your kids are anything like my two you will find that they love having the independence of working through a course online.
And it’s great for you because you know that your kids are being taught by professionals and they are learning at their own pace.
Remember, you can’t do everything so don’t even try.
I can personally recommend the following courses that both of my kids did and loved.
Udemy Online Courses For Kids
Udemy is an online learning platform that is perfect for homeschooling families. It has thousands of courses, all at very reasonable prices.
Just to be able to set your kids up with one of these courses online (which are all interactive and engaging) is a huge relief when you are trying to get on with some work.
My daughter learned to play the Ukulele using this Kids Beginner Ukulele Course and at eight years of age, my son became a whizz at coding after taking the Kids Coding – Beginner HTML Course which was excellent.
Click here to see what other online courses your kids will love!
Do A Job Where You Can Work From Home
If you have a work from home job then you are pretty much good to go.
You will have to have a very good weakly planner. It sounds boring I know, but if you try and rely on spontanaity then you will quickly spread yourself too thin and end up with burn out. That doesn’t help anyone.
You will have to adjust your hours accordingly but there is no reason why older kids (aged ten and upwards) cannot be given a project or some set work and work independently.
Again, I don’t know your kids, but mine would have been able to do about 40 minutes at a time. Work it around your own kids.
Remember, homeschool kids, don’t have to be ‘working’ from 9 until 3. You will find that your children will have all of their formal ‘learning’ completed in a couple of hours. After that, they can work on projects, build lego, read books, watch documentaries etc.
No different than if it was the summer holidays.
The other option is to join a homeschool family conglomerate. I know lots of other families who did this.
This agreement meant that they would share the days that each parent had the group of kids at their house and worked with them.
If you have enough families that you like and trust, then you can potentially be the ‘homeschool teacher’ for one day a week – making this the perfect solution for families who wish to work and don’t want their children being sent to school.
This is becoming a very popular option and schools seem to be agreeing to the child being allowed to go home for part of the week or day.
Speak to your local school and ask them how this could work for you. It is kind of a perfect solution and I am sure that you could work something out between you. Talk about taking your child home for the afternoons, or for two full days a week.
And promise me you won’t get caught up in the trap of thinking ‘their friends will exclude them’. They won’t. Not if they are real friends. And anyway, your child’s happiness is more important.
Take Your Children With You To Work
Again, this is another way to keep working and homeschool. If you have your own office or place of work (maybe you have a cafe or hairdressers) there is no reason whatsoever that your child cannot come to work with you and set up a space where they can be with you but are working.
I have to say, this would depend on your child. Some would be more than happy with this arrangement. (It would have been my son’s idea of bliss to be at a cafe all day!).
Do I Know of Anybody Who’s Made a Success From Homeschooling and Working Full Time?
Yes, I do. I know lots of people.
- The lady on the farm that I told you about earlier was a full-time vet who practised from a clinic at home. She made it work for her family, and her boys were both under ten years of age. They would spend all day playing games and writing out projects.
- I have a friend who works full time while her son – who surfs for New Zealand, is left to fit his work in around his own schedule. He is a successful teenager, and the family make it work for them.
- Another friend who is a full-time midwife juggles three children under 12 and still manages to smile when she sees me. Some days she takes the children with her to the clinic, and other days her husband is at home for a few hours.
I could go on and on. My point is, it’s not impossible, it just didn’t work for us.
Related Posts That You May Enjoy
I take my hat off to any parents who are homeschooling and working full time, I really do. If you can make it work for you then go for it.
But please remember this.
Homeschooling is a job in itself, granted it might be an unpaid job, but it’s still a job. Don’t spread yourself too thin. The years that you do homeschool may be poor ones but make sure they are happy ones.
You can always be supermum when they’ve left home.
Are you a homeschooler/unschooler/home-educator?
Or are you thinking about homeschooling but don’t know if you can homeschool and work full time? Drop me a comment below and let me know what you are thinking. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Or, sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll be able to stay up to date with our worldschooling journey and how it panned out.