Tag Archives: blessings

Can I Homeschool & Work Too?

Guest Blogger

Texas Home School Coalition Association REVIEW © February 2008

by: Holly Williams Urbach

When I started teaching my children at home in 1993, it was rare for me to meet a home schooling mother who worked outside the home. We home educators met at our local park and commiserated on the challenges of tackling lesson plans and getting dinner on the table each night. Our husbands worked full-time, or more, to support the school lunch program, and we wives worked hard to stretch the income as far as possible. We swapped curriculum and clothes with each other, along with recipes designed to make the most use of the available items in our pantries.

Contrast the above scenario with 2007, when quite a few of my home educating friends and acquaintances work either from home or outside the home. While there are many families living on one income, increasing numbers of households are finding it more and more difficult to do so for a variety of reasons. When I counsel new home schoolers these days, many ask me if it is possible to work and homeschool.

My family and I are part of the growing trend of home educating families in which both parents are working. When we realized that I would have to begin working, my husband and I determined to continue home educating our children. We did not want to shortchange our children as a result of the difficulties we were having financially.

I am extremely fortunate to work part-time for a company that allows me flexible hours. I know of families with home-based businesses who face the same time crunch that I have working outside my home. I believe it is likely that we will find home schooling families where both parents work more common in the coming years. Whether working outside the home or from home, combining work and school is a task that requires creativity, energy, and determination.

Even with all the perks of my situation, I find it challenging to combine work and schooling.  Following are some ideas and strategies I use to manage home, school, and extra-curricular activities while holding a job.

One of the first things to do is develop a workable schedule. Obviously, a lot depends on the age and activities of your children. My four children still at home range in age from thirteen to nineteen. Since they are teenagers who require and desire a lot of sleep, I work mornings while they are still sleeping. When I arrive home around 1 p.m., they have gotten out of bed, eaten and dressed, and they are already working on independent assignments. We then have between 1:30 and 6 p.m. to complete their studies for the day. I have students who are well-rested and ready to learn.

When I worked two afternoons a week, I struggled to accomplish schoolwork in the mornings prior to leaving for work. The children were sleepy and sluggish. I was frustrated and felt that everything was rushed and seldom accomplished to my satisfaction. Our new schedule works much better for all of us. Determining your most productive work and school hours is the first step in making school and work successful.

The next thing to consider is what curriculum to use. A teacher who is also working may not have the preparation time available that she would like to have. Many employed home schooling parents find that computer or video curricula fill the need nicely for their students. I would caution parents not to use such curricula for all subjects, because students need variety and adult feedback to help them learn effectively. Others hire tutors or send their children to outside classes for some of their instruction.

At times, I have utilized outside classes and co-ops to help meet the needs of my students in science and math, freeing me to delve more deeply into history, literature, Bible, and foreign languages. These classes make my available time with my students more productive. The point is, take a deep look into your family’s needs and develop a plan that helps you not only to survive but also to thrive in your situation. Any frustration you encounter in your schedule is a natural alarm, telling you that something still needs adjusting. Pray about it and seek God’s direction on how to resolve the situation.

With the work/school schedule planned and the curriculum squared, the next big consideration is how to deal with housework, meals, and outside commitments such as Boy Scouts, 4-H, kids work, etc. My family and I take time to discuss housework issues, and the children and I divide the responsibilities between us. The great thing about this plan is that my sons are learning to launder clothes, cook, and keep house just as well as my daughter. We all pitch in to get the work done so no one has to spend a lot of time doing housework.

Meal preparation is time consuming enough for parents at home full-time, so having less time due to working outside the home can cause a lot of stress. I try to make things ahead of time over the weekend, so getting a meal on the table during the school week is easier. I use my crock pot as much as I can. I have many cookbooks that contain recipes for cooking in quantity and freezing meals ahead of time, to best utilize the time I have available.(Once a Month Cooking by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson and Jill Bond’s Dinner’s in the Freezer are two favorites.) I also solicit my children’s help in preparing meals. I reap the benefits of more time with my children and reduced time in the kitchen. Planning and executing a menu is essential to streamlining meal preparation as well as keeping expenses down by avoiding the fast-food trap.

My daughter has a part-time job, and she and my youngest son are active in 4-H. Such additional activities are worthwhile enough to our family to factor into our schedule the time they take. We have found 4-H to be a great program for our family, because each child can participate in an area of their own interest as we take monthly trips together to the meetings.  Another great thing about 4-H is that it helps our home schooling so that we work smarter rather than harder. Finding an activity that the whole family enjoys together is a great way to manage the time spent out of the home. Each family can find activities that add enough to the family that they also justify the time taken to participate in them.

Do I long for the days when I was home all day with my children? I certainly do. I have actually started a home-based business for just that reason. Once my business replaces the income from my part-time job, I will once again be at home all day with my children. I will still face that juggling act that comes with working and homeschooling, but I think that my children and I will all have gained a greater understanding of what it means to work together as a team and of how to adapt to changing situations. In the world we face today, those will be valuable and useful abilities for all of us.

Meet Holly Urbach


Blessed Again

My last entry was about how we have learned to homeschool with out buying much curriculum if any at all.  some of you sent me some great links.  Thanks so much!!!

I wanted to share with you how God has blessed our school this year.  I sat one morning for my morning devotions.  I asked the Lord to show me how to utilize the materials I already had for school.  I knew that we would not be able to buy books again so I wanted to make sure I was well planned out.  I was a bit nervous though because my daughters are in high school & I really needed some good math & science for them.  I was hoping to piece together something from the internet, but wasn’t sure if I could do an adequate job.

Well, I was invited to dinner by a sweet friend from church.  She is one of my mentors & I looked forward to our dinner together.  She didn’t know any of our past financial struggles specifically.  She knew we had occasional times of hardship though.  At the end of our dinner she told me that she & her husband felt hte Holy Spirit prompting them to give us some money to buy our school books.  I was totally thrown back.  I couldn’t believe it.  A few weeks later I hel in my hand a check for an amount that was another shock.  I didn’t expect this much money.  I knew though that as much as it was it still wouldn’t cover the books that I had researched & chosen.  But still we were so thankful for it. 

I prayed once again and asked the Lord to help me to use this money wisely.  Show me what they really needed for this eyar & what we could do without.  I began marking things off of my list and I still needed about $300 more dollars.  I began shopping on ebay & amazon and found a few things.  Small victories, but still a victory.  Then we went to a store with used & new homschool supplies & I thought I had hit the jackpot.  I found most of what we were looking for, but still needed the HS math & Science.  I didn’t know how, but I knew we would get it somehow.  My daughter Sarah really wanted to do Biology this year & after looking many curriculum over we decided to stick with Apologia.  She said that she didn’t have to do biology she could do Physical Science instead. 

Here comes the fun part.  I was “catching up” with a friend and telling her about the money we were given & how cool I thought it was.  She asked if we had all we needed.  I told her no, & told her what we still needed.  She replied with “Oh, we have the math you need & we won’t need to use it for about 10 years so you can borrow it until then.”  WOOHOO!!

Then, the next day I stopped by a past homeschool moms house for something & she hands me 2 big boxes with biology & chemistry equipment in it, microscope & all!  WOOOHOOO  again!  So, I was sharing my good news with another email friend.  I told her that I guess God wants Sarah to do Biology, now I can’t wait to see how he provides the books.  She replies with, “I have them, don’t need them, send me your address, I’ll ship them to you.”  WOOOHOOO!!

So, we had just enough money left over to order the lab kits for the science.

All of this reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  So little food & so many to share it. 

“I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. 

Psalm 9:1-2