One of the biggest challenges for working parents aiming to homeschool their children is time management and effective communication. It is critical for parents and students to communicate their needs and schedules with each other in order to develop a structured system for education. We have compiled a collection of tips and tools for effectively balancing work-life demands and homeschooling responsibilities in the two prior installments of this article series. In this section, we will expand to cover additional resources and recommendations for successful homeschooling and working simultaneously.
Benefits of Homeschooling
While homeschooling has been rising heavily in recent years, with more families than ever before leaving the public school system in favor of alternative learning options, working parents can be skeptical of the potential for homeschooling their kids. However, despite the demands of regular workplace hours, homeschooling can be an incredibly viable solution for many families. Often, homeschoolers see better educational results than their counterparts educated within the traditional public school system. The National Home Education Research Institute reported that 78% of peer-reviewed studies on academic achievement show that homeschooled students perform statistically significantly better than those in institutional schools. There are countless benefits to homeschooling your children including educational advantages and the ability to choose a curriculum which caters to your students’ needs and your values. Ultimately, the success of your homeschooling journey can be bolstered by implementing some of our effective tips and tricks for managing your homeschooling and working simultaneously.
- Aim to Create Independent Learners
It is incredibly important when homeschooling your students and working simultaneously to create an environment which fosters independent learning. When your students are active in their own educational development, they are able to maintain a greater amount of their own assignments and educational responsibilities. It is crucial to have your students complete as much as possible on their own so that parents can focus on other tasks during the day. Therefore, students and parents need to know which subjects are able to be completed independently and which assignments may require some additional assistance. With structured and scheduled review time, students can complete their work largely independently, and they can then bring their challenging problems for help during this period.
Independent learners can look like different things for various ages and families. This can include math practice on their own, which might include using online math programs, and then bringing questions on the material later in the day. Further, having a detailed planner is crucial for independent learners to keep track of their assignments. Moreover, another useful method is simple multitasking between students, if you have multiple students, such as reading aloud to each other while one person works on something else – like cleaning up around the house or doing the laundry. This is a time-blocked weekly planner that can be printed and filled out for the applicable assignments and responsibilities.
The ultimate goal is for the student to make the schedule and to own it with minimal supervision on the part of the parent. This teaches organization and planning skills, something sorely lacking in the public school system, which flips the model and requires the teacher to dole out the knowledge and assignments over time daily rather than chunking the material weekly or monthly and asking the student to manage the schedule. When students have a say in the choosing of their curriculum and school day schedule, it can boost their desire to learn independently. Students in middle school should begin to create the schedule, maybe in one or two subjects, while the parent does the other subjects and supervises. In high school, the student should do all of it with just daily “what do you need help with” and weekly review check ins.
- Consider pod school options.
Pod schools, homeschooling pods, are groups of roughly three to ten students who learn together in homes under the tutelage of the children’s parents or a hired teacher. These ‘pod schools’ have been rising in recent years due to pandemic-related skepticism on the part of parents in the traditional public school system. The New York Times noted that these pod school options provide families with a schooling option that feels safe — yet also allows kids to have fun and build social skills (Moyer 2020). Many parents utilizing the pod schools are sharing the load between families in which parents rotate having the group of students at their homes and teach whatever they are good at ideally. Parents working in sciences or coding may teach math, science, or engineering. Parents with experience editing or as an author would teach reading and writing. The goal in this method is to expose students to a variety of subjects and cater to each parents’ individual strengths in teaching what they are good at. The key difference between co-ops and pod schools is that pod schools tend to be smaller, with each parent focusing on a specific subject whilst homeschool co-ops are groups of families who arrange educational and social opportunities for their students; often, co-ops can offer classes, field trips, and other activities that are difficult to arrange singularly. Working parents will likely find more benefit in a pod school or tutoring center.
There are countless strategies for working full-time employment and homeschooling your kids. The overarching recommendations covered throughout this series are to adhere to a consistent and structured schedule, to build a strong support system, to plan your students’ academics in advance, to outsource where possible, to beware of all-computer solutions, to prioritize play and creative pursuits for all, to aim to create independent learners, and to consider potential pod school options. There is no singularly correct method for homeschooling successfully; the right way is whichever collection of tips and methods works best for your family.
- McPhee, C., Jackson, M., Bielick, S., Masterton, M., Battle, D., McQuiggan, M., Payri, M.,Cox, C., and Medway, R. (forthcoming). National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016: Data File User’s Manual (NCES 2017-100). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
- Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Pods, Microschools and Tutors: Can Parents Solve the Education Crisis on Their Own?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 July 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/parenting/school-pods-coronavirus.html.