How to homeschool your child while working full-time

homeschool Aug 2, 2022


There’s no way I can homeschool my children because I work a full-time job.

Unfortunately, that’s the sentiment for many hardworking parents. They want to homeschool their kids, but because of their busy work schedules, it seems impossible.

But it’s not. If working full-time has been holding your family back from taking the homeschooling plunge, this post is for you. Get tips and tricks from real homeschooling parents who work and homeschool their children.

Tip #1: Make any necessary work adjustments

If your children go to public or private school during the day, switching to homeschooling will be a big change. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work for your family.

It’s certainly worth taking a moment to consider if any of the following is feasible:

  • Working from home
  • Adopting a more flexible work schedule
  • Leveraging online homeschooling classes
  • Enlisting help from other family members or homeschooling parents
  • Getting involved in a co-op

There are a lot of resources out there for families who want to work and homeschool. The working-homeschool parents we surveyed agreed the key is determination and creativity.

Tip #2: Venture outside regular school hours

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your children must go to school between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm Monday through Friday. After all, that’s what you’re both used to, right?

But when you’re a homeschooling parent, all of those time constraints are gone. You’re in control of the schedule. As long as you meet your state’s homeschooling requirements, you can be creative. Freedom is one of the best parts of homeschooling.

You have the opportunity to educate your child when it suits your family best. That might mean before or after work, or even on the weekends. The choice is yours.

As a homeschool parent myself, I can tell you that the more you can do to plan in the “off” hours, the better. For instance, you may have to get up earlier (or stay up later if you’re more of a night owl) to get lesson plans in order.

The bottom line is to try and let go of what you’ve always thought of as “normal.” You get to create a new standard for your family, and as long as it meets requirements and works for you, it works.

Tip #3: Teach independent learning early on

Another myth many parents believe is that they must be 100% present with their children during homeschooling to succeed.

But that’s not true because one of the best gifts you can give your child is to teach them how to learn independently. Doing so allows them to build confidence in their ability to grasp new subjects without relying on their parents or teachers.

It's normal to worry that you're doing "enough" with your homeschooling, which is why being part of a homeschool community can be so helpful. It's reassuring to note that the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) states that homeschooled students often score as much as 30 percentile points above their public school counterparts on standardized academic achievement tests.

Of course, your presence is still very much needed with your kids as they homeschool. But encouraging them to learn on their own - at least part of the time - fosters essential life skills and pride in what they can achieve.

Here are a few ideas you might want to implement:

  • Leverage online homeschooling classes. Your kids get enthusiastic live-teaching without it all falling on your shoulders.
  • Join a local homeschool co-op. Some co-ops run Monday through Friday, while others may only operate a few days a week. Either way, joining one can take a lot off your plate.
  • Consider hiring an online tutor. All parents have at least one school subject that they’re not 100% confident in, and most have more than one. Check your state’s regulations to see what percentage of their teaching instruction needs to be done by you. A tutor is a great way to fill in the gaps.
  • You can also recruit help from your childcare provider or family members. Who says you have to bear the weight of homeschooling on your own?

Having your children master independent learning is a great way to build their confidence and prepare for higher education. Plus, it gives you time to focus on getting your work done.

Tip #4: Everything can be school

Many parents continue to homeschool their kids and work full-time because they get creative about implementing their children’s curriculum. While your state has specific criteria and requirements, there is often a lot of freedom regarding how you meet those criteria.

For example, Ashley, a homeschooling mom in Upstate New York, says, “Everything is school.” She recommends looking for teaching moments in your day-to-day life, whether it’s helping your child start their own business or simply watching Ken Burns films together.

Here are some  out-of-the-box ideas to help you get started:

Math

  • Need to teach a young kid about fractions? Make a meal or batch of trail mix together. Help them measure and slice things into sections. They get to make something and get a solid kinesthetic and visual math lesson. It’s a win-win.
  • Sign them up for a fun online math class, like understanding money and economics using games or how to save for their first car.
  • Have your teen research student loan interest rates and calculate them for various loans and colleges.
  • Enlist your kids to figure out the best ways to stretch the family’s grocery or vacation budget. Have them create a spreadsheet and calculate taxes and totals.

Social studies/history

  • Visit your local community’s historical sites on the weekends.
  • Find interesting documentaries here, on Netflix, or at your local library to bring their history lessons to life.
  • Try an online model UN club.
  • Take your kids on a virtual museum tour.
  • Discuss current events and politics around the family dinner table.

English

Science

  • Ask your kids to research fun science experiments you can do together in your kitchen, or try an online science experiment.
  • Take a hike and do nature studies focusing on trees, plants, and animals. Try a fun app that explains the different trees and plants.
  • Learn about gross science or check out a virtual space camp.
  • Try a monthly STEM kit like KiwiCo.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to just be reading textbooks. Mixing it up can take some of the load off your plate, and it makes learning more fun for you and your kids.

Tip #5: Choose an online homeschooling program

Before 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, only 3% of students in the United States were homeschooled. However, statistics show that during the 2020-2021 school year, that number increased by 63%. The following school year, it only fell by 17%.

Simply put, the data shows families like homeschooling. But when you work full-time, the key is finding the method that works best for your family. For example, finding a quality online homeschooling program can make all the difference.

Online homeschooling doesn't have to be like it was while schools were shut down during the pandemic. COVID forced the world to pivot overnight to a virtual schooling system that had to try to play by brick and mortar rules. It was a harrowing experience for everyone involved – teachers, kids, and parents. s alike.

But it’s possible to find an online homeschool program that captures your child’s attention with every class. Companies specializing in this type of instruction often have engaging teachers and lesson plans that make learning fun. Not only that, but kids can choose from a wide variety of classes and find ones that excite them.

Best of all, when you opt for online homeschooling, your kids can attend classes when you’re at work and still get lessons done each day.

Tip #6: Keep it simple for multiple children

Mel, a homeschooling dad who works outside the home, says that, in his opinion, it’s all about simplicity. “When I returned to homeschooling, I had 5 kids in grades 3-9. But we all did the same Earth Science, US History, and English. Planning is so much easier. Older kids helping the younger ones makes it easier too.”

In other words, a little creativity goes a long way when you're working full-time.

Start with what’s required, and then figure out how you can break it up or supplement. Try outsourcing your least favorite subjects to educators on Outschool who love teaching them. Find out what homeschooling style works for your family – maybe it’s unschooling.

When you inevitably have questions, dig into homeschooling resources and community to support your journey.

Supplementing with online homeschooling classes, having your kids work together, and joining a local homeschool co-opp are easy ways to keep things simple.

Bonus homeschooling tips for parents working full-time

Here are a few more bonus tips that may help you step into homeschooling.

  • It’s okay if you have a bad day or need to change things up. It’s the big picture that matters.
  • Connect with other homeschooling families, whether in-person or online, so you have people who can help you troubleshoot problems.
  • Be creative with the coursework you choose, and ask your kids for their input to find classes that will pique their interests. For example, maybe they would enjoy learning Sign Language or Computer Coding.

Are you ready to try homeschooling while working full-time?

Above all, remember that you may need to try a few different approaches before you find one that works well for you. Be flexible since you may discover things about your kids that you didn’t know – like maybe studying in the morning just doesn’t work for your night owls.

But bottom line, if you want to homeschool your kids, you can, even with a full-time job. At Outschool, we’re excited about your homeschooling journey. We offer online homeschool classes for ages 3-18 to support your homeschool program. Our goal is to empower your kids to learn on their terms and take their education to the next level.

Check out real homeschooling stories from parents who use Outschool, plus an in-depth Outschool review.

Welcome to homeschooling. We think you’re going to love it.

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Thank you to Nicole Colwell for your first-hand perspective. Nicole is a writer, homeschooling mom, and business owner.

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