Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to work and homeschool too

I hope everyone had a great New Year!

I know from previous surveys that a high proportion (perhaps 50 percent) of families of profoundly gifted students wind up homeschooling at some point during their school years. These days there are a lot more options for online schooling and individualized instruction than in the past.

One thing that holds some families back is the assumption that one parent (likely Mom for a variety of reasons) will need to stop working in order to homeschool.

But it turns out that working and homeschooling aren't incompatible. I have a piece published over at Fast Company today on the ultimate second shift - "How These Parents Work and Homeschool Too."

To make it work, families need to embrace a few ideas.

First, work does not need to happen between 9 and 5, but even if it does, school does not need to happen between 9 and 3. Any of the 168 hours in a week can be in play! (well, probably not 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., but still).

Second, all working parents need childcare. For some parents, school serves this function, but the educational and custodial care functions of school can be unbundled. A number of homeschooling, working parents have nannies for some chunk of time. These caregivers might be able to supervise some aspects of schooling (e.g. trouble shooting for an elementary school student taking an online class).

Third, homeschooling parents can share the load. Two parents taking half the homeschooling means that the time load is cut in two. Many families belong to homeschooling co-ops or even district-run programs that offer electives or specialized instruction one day a week. This becomes time parents can work. Homeschooled kids might go to college classes, or do intense athletic or artistic endeavors, which fills some time too.

If the pieces of work can be moved around, then the math works. Someone could work 35-40 hours a week, and homeschool for 20, sleep 8 hours a night, and still have 52-57 waking hours per week left over. It would be a full life, but a doable one.

Do you or have you homeschooled? If so, did you maintain any professional involvements during this time?


Jo in OKC said...

We homeschooled when my daughter was in 7th and 8th grade. We handled it by tag teaming. My husband, a community college professor with a schedule that's definitely not a standard 8-5 job, was home some of the time.

I had a regular job and was home some of the time (working from home vs working at the office).

And she was home by herself some of the time.

She was doing some home-based classes, some online classes, and had a foreign language tutor come in.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

We tried many approaches to education: bilingual public school, private elementary school, private middle/high school, public high school, and home school. (We also looked at a charter school, but by the time we won the lottery to get it, it was no longer a good fit.)

Homeschooling did not take more parental time than public or private school, but the time was spent differently. Instead of time spent forcing the student to do the assigned homework (which was often busywork), it was spent in finding appropriate work to do—in being teachers rather than disciplinarians. For us, this was more fun, but it might not be for all parents.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at the idea that school is a childcare solution--180 days/year (in other words, less than half the year), for 6 hours a day (when the adult workday is 8+ hours)--unless of course the kids are going in late or leaving early or some other schedule-disrupting scheme.

We ended up homeschooling for high school, using a blend of online accredited high school and community college, plus taking advantage of our homeschool umbrella's teen clubs. It wasn't easy, but the child is now away in grad school.

Evan Adams said...

I homeschooled for 7th and 9th grade, and the way my (single, working) mom made it work was to just leave me home alone during the day. I was 13 and 14 those years, and it might not have worked otherwise (most 13 year olds are old enough to not play with matches or anything, but too young to be interested in most of the things you might worry about with older teens), but it worked for me. One big aspect of that was that I had a cell phone (mildly unusually for a 13 year old in the early 2000s, so I was able to e.g. walk to the library or the park on my own without being unreachable or apparently missing).