At the time of writing this, we are currently under quarantine with a stay-at-home order due to COVID-19. Scrolling through Facebook, I’m seeing a lot of people discussing the challenges of the work from home and homeschool life. Not just from those with public school children at home, but from true homeschooling families with a parent deciding to permanently work out of the house.
I won’t lie and say that working from home while also homeschooling your children is easy. Oh, my-it’s far from that. I think it’s one of the most difficult tasks I have ever taken on. However, I want to encourage those who are looking to work at home and homeschool, and let you know that it isn’t as far fetched as it may seem!
I know you may think you don’t have the time, the kids won’t learn anything, or the house will stay a mess-but this just doesn’t have to be the case, my friend! It’ll be tough in the beginning-what new venture isn’t-but once you get in the groove you’ll be amazed at how beautiful this life can be. Let me share my 7 tips on how to work at home and homeschool.
Recognize the Freedom in Homeschooling
This is something that gets overlooked with new and veteran homeschoolers. We forget that we have so much freedom when we choose to homeschool. Yes, each state has its particular guidelines, but outside of that, WE are the ones in control. Your homeschool doesn’t have to look or function like anyone else’s.
Want to homeschool in the evenings? Go for it. Want to use a box curriculum so dad can do the school while you work? Yay! Need to do school on a Saturday? Have at it! NO one can tell you the best way to homeschool for YOUR family. So even with these tips on how to work at home and homeschool-take them with a grain of salt. You have so many options. Don’t stick to one methodology just because someone on a homeschool blog told you to.
Examine Your Curriculum
Your curriculum choices will play a huge part in making working from home while homeschooling work. If doing a full day’s worth of school takes a full day-it might be time to reevaluate, especially if you’re teaching children that aren’t in high school yet. Most homeschoolers will tell you their days do not consist of 8 hours of teaching.
How much independent work do your children have? Even preschoolers can be assigned tasks they can do on their own, which opens up opportunities for you to get in some work. Online curriculum is great for this.
In our home, all of my school-aged kids (5-11 years old) use an online math & vocabulary program. I can pop it on my phone, tablet, or computer. This is an easy way for me to assign some work that doesn’t require my own teaching. But let me tell you a secret-even if I wasn’t working from home, I’d still do this! I am not a math whiz at all, so having someone else teach the course is the BEST course of action for our family.
Stick to a Routine, Not a Schedule
When we start the journey from bringing our outside work in, we have the same mindset that some new homeschoolers do-we want to keep the exact same timeline as we had in the office or the classroom. Wake up at 6, breakfast at 630, kids up at 7, work until noon, etc. It’s easy to become a slave to the clock. However, this doesn’t always translate well to home life. Sometimes it can be what makes everything unravel.
Try to have more of a routine-an order you do things-rather than a strict schedule that relies on the clock. I would stress this even more to families with babies and toddlers in the mix. Their unpredictability lends itself better to a routine lifestyle. Practice this for a few weeks and see what happens. When everyone in the family knows what’s coming, things can progress a little smoother.
Involve Others in Your Work From Home and Homeschool Life
If you need a strict block of time to get work done, maybe a conference call or web meeting, this might be your number one tip.
- Have an older child needing practice with their reading? How about have them read out loud to the younger kids?
- Is your dad excellent at Science? Maybe have him stop by a few times a week to do their science lessons.
- Your best friend is fluent in Spanish? Try setting up a Zoom or Google Hangouts meeting once or twice a week.
- Dad working swing shift? Maybe switch off a few days of the week and have him take lead on school for that day. (This actually is what we do a few times a month in our house!)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If people already love your family, why wouldn’t they want an opportunity to spend more time with you all?! This helps with all of that “socializing” people say we don’t have either!
Know Your Priorities
What happens when the time comes (and it will) when work must take precedence that day/week, sickness hits, travel, etc.? Well, you must know what is okay to put on the back burner for a time and what’s non-negotiable. For us, reading and math are the things we’ll stick to no matter what’s going on in life. Why? Because like I mentioned in #2, my curriculum choices make it easy to stay on track. Our reading curriculum is actually a reading/history combo and our math is online. Keeping these as our core while in any sort of “all hands on deck” mode, is pretty simple.
Now that’s having homeschooling covered. What about work? I’ve learned there are things with work that I must put on the back burner when things are strained too. My non-negotiables as a homeschool blogger are contracts and social media. I might not be able to create a bunch of new content, graphics, or create new resources for my shop-but I MUST stay on top of my contracts and maintain at least a minimal presence on social media.
My priorities won’t be the same as yours but this is still an important step in working from home and homeschooling. Figure out what things you can’t budge on. When things get out of whack stay focused on these and do the others when you can.
Don’t Forget Quiet Time
This is something I implemented a long time ago. It’s another non-negotiable! Every day, after lunch has been cleaned away, we have quiet time. This actually came about after being super sick while pregnant with my 5th baby. I needed a time I could sit down and rest, but having kids running around like banshees wasn’t cutting it!
Our quiet time looks different every day. Most of the time the toddler gets put down for a nap and the older kids either read or watch a movie together. Sometimes they’ll color and listen to an audiobook. I use this time to work or (more often than not) I take a nap after working late. It sounds crazy, but I work better at night. But also have kids to take care of in the morning. Instead of burning the candles at both ends-I take a nap. And it works. It’s eliminated that “burnout” feeling. No shame in that game.
Get a Change of Scenery
You don’t actually have to homeschool or work from home. Take time to get out of the house with or without the kids. Dad doing some school with the kids? Go do some work at the coffee shop. Wanna do a nature study before your webinar? Go to the park. Is everyone grumpy this morning? Go outside in the sun and play, even if you have to take your laptop with you.
Don’t be afraid to change your environment on the fly. You might find that typing up that contract goes a lot smoother and quicker sitting at the park with the kids than sitting in your home office. You guys are home together-a lot. Even as homeschoolers and working from home prior to this quarantine-the staying home is rough on us too!
Take advantage of good weather. Plan educational outings. Plan playdates. Plan work time outside of the home. We all need opportunities to stretch our legs-kids included!
Learning how to work from home and homeschool is challenging and will at times be tough. You will constantly find new and better ways to do things and routines that fit your family best. As your kids grow you will face and adapt to new challenges. But you’re all in this together-and that’s certainly worth it all.