Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My plan to balance work/homeschool

in the office with kids

Several people have asked for hints about my plan to balance a full-time job with homeschooling the kids. It's a trick, that's for sure. My mother did it two ways: running a home daycare for 15 years and then running a tutoring center for the last 12 years.

I am very lucky, in that I have a full-time job with flex hours and a flexible workplace. My big work-day is Sunday, when my husband is available to watch the kids. If he's ever not, it also works fine for the kids to go with me now that they are old enough to not be hanging on my hip as I do the many parts of my Sunday role.

The rest of my work week is Office Hours, Meetings, Study, Lesson Planning, sometimes facilitating Classes, and a ever shifting assortment of prep tasks (shopping, cooking, crafting, photocopying, etc) for Sunday school. A lot of that is done in the evening, or on Saturday, because we are working around the schedules of other folks who have school and work.

I plan to shift my Office Hours to the afternoons, probably 1-4pm, and work four days a week. One of those days will be a full-day, 10am-4pm most likely. So that will be 15 hours a week of during the day time that we'll be in my office. As you can see in the photo above, the kids can just hang out in my office with me - like I said, I'm very lucky. There is also all the rest of the unused church building for them to hang out in: nursery, Montessori-style classroom, youth room with sofas and tv, empty classrooms, outdoor space, pianos, etc.

I plan to mostly let them do whatever they want during my office hours. We will buy them a simple laptop so that they can be on the computer if they want. I'm also a big fan of borrowing DVD's from the library and letting them watch those at work. If the mood moves them, they have tons of art supplies at their finger-tips there. They hang out there now, and I'm confident they'll be able to keep themselves busy for those 15 hours a week.

So that settles where the kids will go during my work hours. Now - how will we find time for the homeschooling?

We will do "Breakfast School" and do our small quantity of daily work in Reading, Writing, and Math first thing in the morning.

We will do one family unit-study at a time, which the kids will choose the topic for and then we'll let unfold rather organically. Lots of library books to read, documentaries to watch, a field-trip if appropriate, etc. We'll work that all in around our schedule.

I'm going to arrange for a Spanish class for the kids, and for a few other homeschooling friends. That will be one hour a week, scheduled on a morning. We'll do home-learning tucked in here and there as well.

Other mornings will be assigned for a once-a-week nature study and keeping a nature journal, and then a once-a-week science lab time and keeping a lab journal.

A music lesson once a week, some kind of physical activity or class, and one class per week at the Homeschool Connect program that is provided by our school district - yes, there is going to be running around for me to do. Some of it may have to be after 4pm, when I leave work.

There is also a park day with the local homeschool group, and playdates to schedule. I know I'm going to be keeping a big family calendar to keep it sorted out.

Will I be tired? Yes. But I'm going to give myself one afternoon a week off, by hiring a babysitter for four hours a week. Then I can get out and do something for myself, with no kids for those four hours.

That's my plan!


  1. Sounds like a great plan! I love the family unit-study idea. We seem to be moving towards more and more of those, as I learn what works best for my kids. They love getting to pick a topic and then studying it in depth.

    I know you have TONS of free time, but if you do get a breather this summer, you might put together a few "emergency" workboxes with special activities inside. These have saved me on days when I didn't feel well or something came up and I needed the kids to work independently.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about the new schedule in action!

  2. I love the family unit study idea too and I think my kids would get a kick out of it as well. I also like your idea of taking an evening out each week for yourself. I've been running up against a wall lately and this might be the exact sort of thing I need. Good idea!

  3. I homeschooled two teens through high school, and a younger child until 5th grade. Have a weekly field trip - we went somewhere every Wednesday - it breaks up the week, and gives you a curriculum focus. And you should also try to have a "Mom Hour" every day, where the kids are doing something safe that they enjoy, and you are in your room or office or studio with the door closed.
    And don't sweat the small stuff, like dusting. LOL!!