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Homeschooling for parents who work full-time or part-time is a challenge. Have you been struggling with picking the best curriculum for your homeschooling/working family? This may help you answer some of your questions.
Homeschooling for Parents Who Work
What’s the best homeschool curriculum for working parents?
None! You don’t need a special homeschool curriculum for a working parent. Choose a curriculum that you can use in a flexible, simplified way, and teach your children to be as independent as possible.
You can choose a virtual online public school, but you will still have to be present and teach your child to be independent, and you lose flexibility and simplicity. It is the answer for some parents, but homeschool parents have so many options today that there’s no reason to make a quick decision before exploring all your homeschool options.
Nothing’s perfect for all situations, but there are three key characteristics of homeschool curricula that make them better suited to working parents.
3 Key Characteristics of Homeschool Curriculum for Working Parents
1. Flexible Homeschool Curriculum
Choosing flexible homeschool curriculum lets you use the curriculum around your busy work schedule. Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason/literature-based, Relaxed/Eclectic, and Unschooling are all more flexible types of homeschool. Each of these types of homeschooling has many variations. Classical homeschool can also be done in a flexible style but it’s not as common to see that adaptation, although many people incorporate classical principles into an eclectic homeschool!
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2. Simple Homeschool Curriculum
Simpler homeschooling uses fewer tasks per day, fewer subjects per day, fewer sources per day. Just think less “stuff” per day. It’s the same amount of education, the same amount of time per day, but organized differently.
Unit Studies pairs very well with a simpler style of homeschooling because you are focusing on one theme. Literature-based curricula can also be used in a simpler way (the most commonly known is Charlotte Mason, but Sonlight and My Father’s World are also what I would consider literature-based curricula). Some literature-based curricula use many books per day, but if you’re working and you want to simplify the reading schedule, you can adapt the curricula to work with your own schedule better. Instead of reading snippets from five books per day for five days, just do the week’s reading from one book each day for five days. At the end of the week you’ll have covered the same amount of material, but without having to pull out and put back five different books each day. It’s just simpler to handle one book per day rather than five. This also helps a lot when you want your child to read independently. Do you think it’s easier to assign your child reading from one book each day, or five books each day?
Making a repetitive schedule, and fitting curriculum into that schedule, helps simplify your job as your children’s teacher.
A simple, repetitive schedule could be:
Read silently every day (or with a parent for young children)
One math lesson per day
One page of copywork or one essay written per day.
This simple schedule can cover so much more than just reading, math, and writing! You assign the reading, so the reading can cover science, history, music, art or whatever unit topic you want to cover. You assign the writing, and that writing can cover many different topics, too.
3. Independent Homeschool Curriculum
Do everything you can to teach your child how to learn independently. Having a simple system helps a lot with getting to that point. Even small children understand and can think about whether they read, wrote, and did some math that day. They don’t need to be concerned with the details of what subjects they covered, or whether they did page 167 – not yet – but keeping track of these three things helps them start to become invested in and independent about their education.
Learning independence in education is a skill that takes time. Set your child up for success in this area. Don’t expect much independence before age 8 or later if the child is not yet reading fluently by 8 (but start teaching it earlier). High school students should be almost completely independent, except for discussion and questions.
Also, you should expect to be in the room while your child works – almost always. If you are not helping another child or otherwise preparing for homeschool, you should be reading, writing, or working on your own work. Monkey-see-monkey-do…children will copy what adults do. How else can your children learn what real work looks like if you don’t show them? Make sure your child is doing their work well before you begin to slowly wean yourself away from their side. You can get busier and busier with your own work as your children learn to be more independent. Sometimes your work means you can’t be in the same room as your children while they work. It happens. Recognize that this is less than ideal, and deal with it.
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If you find that your child is not being independent the way you wanted, first ask yourself what you have done to teach your child how to be independent. What steps did you take to be clear in your expectations for what work should be done? What steps did you take to simplify the number of tasks that your child needed to complete per day? What steps did you take to inspect and verify along the way that your child was learning to be independent? What is less than ideal in the educational situation, and considering that, are you being realistic in your expectations?
Homeschooling and Working: What Works For You?
When you’re working and homeschooling, your schedule is not going to look like everyone else’s. Your children aren’t everyone else’s. What works for me might not work for you. If you try something and it’s not working, first ask yourself why. What can you do to change things? Then try something different! Set your child up for success by explaining expectations and consequences clearly, and also by being realistic about what a child of that age, ability, and maturity should be able to do.
Lisa Yankey is a regular contributing writer for HomeschoolSuperFreak.com and the author of the upcoming book, “The Homeschool Path to Foreign Language.” You can find her at www.highenergyhomeschool.com, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on YouTube.
Lisa is a happy homeschooling mom of three, but she certainly never expected to homeschool. Teaching runs in her blood – she is a former public-school teacher, and her mother, father, and brother are all former public school teachers. She began homeschooling shortly after her oldest child had a disastrous start to public school first grade, and she has never looked back.
She kept her career as a part-time attorney and works for herself as a sole practitioner, with a practice area in immigration law. She is known particularly for her representation of victims of domestic abuse. She continues teaching adults as a speaker on immigration law at continuing legal education events for fellow lawyers. Lisa resides in Indiana (Hamilton County), with her husband, three children, two dogs, and a cat.