Tag Archives: schedules

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


From My Head into my Heart

HOTM Magazine

Heart of the Matter has a great article this morning written by Rachel from Keep the Way . 

Don’t we  all want to experience at least one easy school day every once in a while?  I would.  It seems that we never can start on time, the house is a disaster, there is nothing easy to fix for lunch, the 3 yr old is  trying to kill her baby brother…and anything else that you can think of to keep us from having a good productive day of school. 

 Rachel knows my pain!  Here is what she wrote.

Almost every homeschool blogger I know has one. You know, the posts about “A Real Day.” Apparently we all feel led at one point or another to make sure other moms know that life isn’t perfect, school doesn’t always get done, the laundry is usually piled on the sofa, and we occasionally sleep a little late. But then it is back to regular programming, that post gets buried with all the others, and moms are left reading about joyful, peaceful homeschool days reminiscent of The Waltons.

While we all know we shouldn’t compare ourselves and our homeschools to others, getting that head knowledge into our hearts can be the hard part. We end up always wondering if we are doing it right, if there is a better curriculum out there, if so-and-so’s children are better behaved or are reading better. The constant comparison, wondering, worrying and guilt we carry around with us can prevent us from experiencing the true JOY of this journey.

“We are all unique and bring something different to the homeschool table” . . . blah blah blah. It sounds great, but unless we truly believe it, it’s just a bunch of pretty words. I have written about this several times and have told it to myself even more, but really believing it is hard for me. Most recently I have been struggling with a daily schedule. Trying to find enough hours in the day to exercise and read devotionals, spend quality time with the girls learning and reading books, having the house not look like a tornado hit it for once, attempting to look somewhat decent when my husband comes home, and trying to get enough sleep so that I can wake up and do it all again has been very difficult. It seems as though I have two stages – the first is where everything is going like clockwork and getting done but I am constantly exhausted and feeling like I am playing beat the clock, or the second stage where none of it gets done, and I gain 15 pounds!

This second stage is where I have been stuck for the last six months. Even while finding my own groove in how we school, I have been trapped feeling like I had to have the same schedule everyone else does. I constantly beat myself up for not being able to get as much done each day as the others I read about. I would make a new schedule every week, trying different variations of the same “perfect” schedule – wake up early (way before everyone else in the house), exercise, start the dishes and laundry, fix my husband’s lunch, have my quiet time, fix a wonderful wholesome breakfast for the family, start school by 9:00am, make lunch, clean the house and have dinner ready when my husband comes home. This might be what your schedule looks like, and it might work for you, but this has not worked for me. For whatever reason, I am wired differently I guess.
But a new hope has been birthed in me, thanks to a post on the Five in a Row Message Boards!! When I shared about my struggles, someone mentioned that in her home, the morning was when the children had free play and she did housework, emails and blogging (I will add exercise here as well). After lunch is when they did school for 2-3 hours and then it was time for errands, more free play with the kids, dinner and bed. A REVELATION!!
  • I can start school AFTER lunch?!?
  • I can do what seems to come naturally to me — catch up on computer time while waking up, use the burst of energy I get after to do what I dislike the most (cleaning the house) and save the highlight of my day (school time with the girls) for later?
  • We can start school after lunch and when we are done, already have the house clean, exercise done and have the rest of the day for real free play?
  • Can I really break the classic rule of school first in the morning?
  • Is there really such a rule after all???

I have no idea if this new schedule will work for us or not, or if this will help anyone else out there, but I wanted to share one more myth that I have dispelled for myself. I hope this gives you the freedom to break some of the rules you have created in your own minds and propels you to a schedule that can truly bring JOY to your day and family!!!

Heart of the Matter is giving away a book called, “See I Told You So!”  It is 18 stories written by veteran HS moms.  If you would be interested in entering their giveaway then go to their website & post a comment.

This was NOT on my schedule!

O’k, today was our first day of school with almost all of our books.  We have been doing school for over a month already, but we were just getting back into the schedule and reviewing basic facts & waiting for the books to come. 

So, I planned out what all we would do.  I had looked over all of the new stuff & figured out how to do it.  I had planned out how much time we should do journaling, math, and our other subjects.  I had it all worked out so that we should be all done by 1:00.  You would have thought this was my first year to do this!!!

Then we actually started our day.  I forgot to plan in two important people.  My 2 yr old Gracie & 11 m old Sam.  You know what happenes when you try to ignore a crying baby to explain a mth lesson?  He only cries louder.  Do you know what a 2 year old can do if you don’t answer her call of “Mommy”?  She can take 50 crayon and break them into pieces & then color all over the wall with them UGHH!! 

One time I had Gracie screaming and chunking crayons at Zachary(5yr) and Sam crying and pulling at my shirt(wanting to nurse), Austin asking me about his math, Collin asking me about his Handwriting & Ben telling me that I was maing him do hard stuff too early in the morning.

THIS WAS NOT ON MY SCHEDULE!

The sad part is I think I do this every year.  It just takes me a few days to get back into the groove.  I think I have a post on here somewhere about what to do with your toddlers.  I think I need to go & read it again!