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I recently took a full-time job outside of the home. Our family decided to continue home schooling, although neither my husband nor I would be home during the day.
Our previous arrangement was ideal for home schooling. I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband worked third shift making it possible for us to be with our children all day. When we realized that our life was less than ideal in other ways, we made the changes necessary to improve our quality of life overall. Those changes included my return to the workforce and my husband’s switch from a 3rd-shift-seven-days-per-week indentured servitude job to a healthier 8-6, M-F gig.
Going in to this new normal, we assured ourselves and our children that we could both work full-time and still home school. Frankly, though, I simply wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out. It’s been nearly three months since we created our new lifestyle and working full-time and home schooling are well-married in our home.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that we have some help. Our youngest son, who is seven and working at a first grade level, has a wonderful care provider who, herself, was home schooled. She has four sons that are his age and younger (I know! She is supermom!), and the older two are in school. She understands our desire to continue home schooling and is willing to help us by working with my son every day on his school work.
My older two sons are eleven and nine and are able to work more independently. They stay home while we work. (We are fortunate to live between a stay-at-home-mom and a retired lady who are there if an emergency should arise and we are considering hiring an older home schooled student to take them to various activities throughout the week.)
In addition to the people in our lives who make it possible for us to work full-time and home school, we have a few tools that help. For language arts and math we are using Time4Learning, which is an internet-based curriculum. Time4Learning both teaches and provides learning activities, quizzes and tests. It allows me to see which areas they sail through and which need a little more work. I don’t usually test my children, and my state doesn’t require it, but I use the Time4Learning tests to gauge their understanding of various subjects.
Another wonderful tool we use to make home schooling and working full-time possible is technology such as Netflix and podcasts. We unschool science and it is one of the most important subjects my children learn. We have a strong science-focus in our home. This year we are learning about astronomy (a child-led interest that we all happen to share) and we’ve found several good documentaries on Netflix to back up the reading that we do on the weekends. My husband found a few podcasts that teach various sciences, as well. When we are at work the boys hook their iPod to a speaker and listen to the lectures while doodling or taking notes.
I’ve already mentioned the fact that we unschool some subjects, but I want to stress that our approach to home schooling is more about learning at home and not really at all about schooling at home. Because our focus is giving our children the freedom to learn and fostering a life-long love of learning, we realize that it is more important that they be exposed to new information and less important to recreate a traditional school environment in our home. This open-mindedness concerning our children’s education has allowed us to be more relaxed about some things that might worry other home schooling parents. For instance, we know that it is not necessary for an authority figure to be present in order for a child to learn. In addition, people often better retain information they find out for themselves rather than information that is forced upon them.
Overall, our experience of working full-time and home schooling has been a positive one. Before we began this journey, I wasn’t sure that it was even an option. I’ve never met any home schooling families where the mother worked full-time outside of the home. I haven’t found any stories on the internet either. I don’t imagine that we are the only family who lives this lifestyle, however.