{Yes, I Work and Homeschool} Meet Melanie

I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to Melanie Mendez-Gonzales, a working homeschool mom and a fellow San Antonio resident. ~ Pamela

Tell us about the work you do. Is it paid or volunteer? Full-time, part-time, or seasonal? How many hours a week do you spend at work? 

I'm a full-time blogger on my own site QueMeansWhat.com. I'm also a freelance writer, social media consultant, and volunteer for my own college-prep non-profit organization as the program director. The amount of hours I work varies each week, but I do work from home. I work a minimum of 30 hours per week and up to 60 hours per week.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool.

When my oldest was old enough for kindergarten, something just tugged at me that it wasn't his time to go. So, we chose to give homeschooling a try for at least one year. That was five years ago. Today, we appreciate the individualized education I can give both my boys, and we cherish all of our family time together. Selfishly, I'm honored that I get to witness so many learning moments with my kids, who are elementary aged. When they read something, at times, I think to myself, "I taught them how to do that." It still blows my mind. 

{Yes, I Work And Homeschool!} Meet Care

For this week’s parent profile, we’re going to work with a different format.

Since finding convenient ways to earn extra money is an issue for many homeschool parents, I interviewed someone who has been through the process of finding—and securing—a contract gig with one particular company that’s been receiving a lot of press of late.

My friend Care, whom I've known for years through the online homeschool community, found herself looking for extra money earlier this year.

"We ran into a situation where some of our income stopped in-coming. Our expenses didn't, and there weren't many extras at the time to cut. So we cut what we could and started looking for something that I could do, either opposite hours to my husband or from home," said Care, who lives in Canada with her husband and elementary-aged son.

Like a lot of homeschoolers, she briefly considered multi-level marketing ("MLM") endeavors. 

"Naturally, the first thing that people recommend when you're a stay-at-home mom is MLMs,” she said. “But I don't like sales. I never have. And the idea of a huge buy-in to start working was well out of range even if I loved sales."

After a series of false starts, Care's husband emailed her about VIPKID, an international education firm that offers online, American-style classes to Chinese children. 

"So I looked at it. It was an opportunity for part-time teaching. You must have a bachelor's degree, and at least one year's experience working with kids. With a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, yeah, this is right in my wheelhouse, I thought," she said. "But, teaching 1:1 in a flipped classroom, based on US Common Core to China?"

Hesitant to apply—and skeptical that she could make the promised $14 - 22 per hour from her living room as an independent contractor, Care set aside the idea. 

But not for long.

"A friend sent me a link. Her friend had been doing this teaching thing for awhile now, was making pretty good money, and loving the [money]. Did I want to look at it? Sure enough, right back to VIPKID. I crossed my fingers and clicked the link."

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Caitlyn

Tell us about your work, Caitlyn.

I volunteer between 30 and 40 hours a week. For my paid work as a freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and transcriptionist, I average 10-20 hours a week.

Tell us why you homeschool.

We made the choice for a variety of reasons, but what it really boils down to is this: the public school system failed my husband and myself when we were children. Also, our children are gifted, and our local school system (like many others) comes up short serving that population.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?

Finding time for it all. Also, finances are an issue, especially since I spend more time per week at my unpaid volunteer position than I do at my actual paid employment.

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Cathy

Tell us about the work you do, Cathy. 

I work between 30-40 hours a week working as a Health Information Technology consultant.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool. 

I homeschool my 8th grade son. I chose to homeschool to put him in a more positive learning environment.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?

Most responsibilities fall on me: cooking, cleaning, homeschool, etcetera. The blessing is that despite the craziness we can follow our own schedule!

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Kathleen from Australia

Tell us about the work you do, Kathleen. 
I’m a part-time volunteer for three organizations. I'm on the board for one and answer emails. (It's a parent support group.) For the other two, I'm a first point of contact for gifted/twice-exceptional (a.k.a “gifted/2e”) families for that organization in my area. I also run a website, edit a magazine, and write.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool. 
We chose homeschooling as the only option for our 2e son. Our daughter is also 2e, and so we homeschool her too now. They are 10 and 6, respectively.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?
As for the challenges, the first is trying to fit all the work in in between other events. I often underestimate the amount of time it will take. Other challenges include making sure the kids have enough activities scheduled when I need to be working or thinking.
The delights? Having something I can sink my teeth into that is intellectually challenging while I educate my kids.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about homeschooling? What are your favorite homeschool resources?
Take it one year--or sometimes one day--at a time. Don't get upset at what doesn't get done. Instead, focus on what worked that day. My favorite resources include GHF: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum and the Home Education Network.

What's your best advice or tip for someone who wants to work and homeschool?
Have realistic expectations about what you personally can do. Be prepared to have some activities that can be done with low levels of supervision. Build in buffers and down time or you may find yourself getting run down and sick.
Thanks, Kathleen

Readers, you can follow Kathleen at YellowReadis.com as well as  Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Angie

Tell us about the work you do, Angie. 
I do both paid and volunteer work. For paid work, I do freelance writing for the educational market. Most recently I wrote a series of picture books in conjunction with educational researchers at a research university. I also write children's books, and I'm actively seeking publication and an agent. I have one board book published so far and another was just accepted for publication next spring. 
On the volunteer side, I have done quite a few things over the years: taught Sunday school classes, served on multiple committees, etcetera. Earlier this year I helped organize our local March for Science including all the website work and social media. 
Currently I am building a website for Kidlit Nation, a new national non-profit. Kidlit Nation’s goal is to address the lack of diversity in children’s literature by supporting diverse authors and illustrators. 

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool. 
My husband and I had several friends in college who were homeschooled. It appealed to us for many reasons: the ability to tailor instruction to the child, increased flexibility, not being tied down to a school schedule, and so forth. When our oldest was 3 we put her in part-time preschool. Even then it wasn't clear that she didn't fit well. That was when googling led to me to “giftedness,” and from there I began to see what would work best to teach her at home.
Today the kids are 7 and 4. The youngest will be doing part-time preschool this year, but she will be homeschooling the rest of the time with her sister.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?
Time and stress are the biggest challenges. There just does not seem to be enough time in the day to do everything. On the other hand, the flexibility is wonderful. When I'm up against a deadline, we can take a break from homeschooling. The reverse is also true. Work can take a backseat when homeschooling needs to be emphasized. Plus, since my husband also telecommutes part of the time, we have been able to take trips without worrying about school schedules and can work along the way.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about homeschooling? What are your favorite homeschool resources (books, blogs, websites, curriculum, etc.)?
The best advice is to follow the child. That can mean abandoning curriculum you labored over choosing when you realize it won't work for your child. Or it can mean modifying curriculum, skipping whole grades, or making your 2nd grader do kindergarten handwriting work because they need it. My favorite book is Creative Homeschooling: A Guide for Smart Families by Lisa Rivera. 
What's your best advice or tip for someone who wants to work and homeschool?
Be realistic about what you can achieve and let the rest go. Don't be afraid to outsource somethings or ask for help: create childcare swaps, hire a tutor to cover your least favorite subject, pay for a cleaning service (I wish!). These are all valid options that let you put your time and energy where you feel they matter most.
Thanks, Angie! You can follow Angie on Twitter ( @aisaacswrites ).

Related & Relevant:

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Kathryn

Today’s featured working homeschool parent is one of my favorite colleagues! I interviewed Kathryn for my second book. In it, she included some helpful tips to help parents address school bullying. This post is part of a series.

Tell us about the work you do.

I am the owner of Grogg Educational Consulting, LLC. I assist parents or guardians in making the best educational decisions for their children, by helping them understand their choices, processes for assisting struggling learners, and setting up record keeping. I also provide academic testing for homeschoolers (individual and group-administered). From time to time, I do some educator training for schools or associations. It's part time and somewhat seasonal, and as such my hours vary greatly week to week and month to month. But I try to spend 4 to 6 hours a week doing social media and other efforts to put my business out there and stay current with the literature in my field.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool.

I have identical twin girls, who are in middle grades now. We had planned on homeschooling for middle school, but found ourselves starting in second grade.

Our local elementary school was not a good fit for our family.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?

In the past it was challenging to find somewhere for my girls to be when I needed to be at a school for a day for work. Now my husband works from home, plus my girls can work from a list of assignments on their own, so I am looking forward to more weekday contracts. The delights have been the ability to set my own work hours for the most part and work around our family life. Additionally, I can take my girls with me to most conferences if I choose. Since I often work with families that homeschool, we have also added new folks to our circle of homeschool friends.

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Doresa

Doresa and I met through our involvement with GHF: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. In fact, I cited some of her work on the topic of gifted minority students in my second book, Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families. This post is part of a series.

Tell us about your work.

I work full time as a Senior Faculty member for a university. I’m also an adjunct for two other universities, and I teach exclusively online. I work a minimum of 40 hours per week, but it is not unusual for me to work 50 hours per week.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool.

We chose to homeschool for a number of reasons. The primary reason was because all three children are gifted as well as dyslexic. We started in 2010, and we live in a district where dyslexia was not considered a learning disability for accommodation until the 2015 school year.

Also, in our state, a child does not quality for services unless they work significantly below grade level. Due to our children being gifted, they rarely work below grade level, although their dyslexia is severe. They still needed both remediation and accommodation, but would not have been granted those things in our local school system. There were not private schools in our area that could accommodate their needs either, so--here we are!

I have a set of twins that are in the 5th grade this school year as well as a 7th grader. Yes, all three are homeschooled.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?

The biggest challenge is honestly getting other people to understand that working from home is still working.

When I am working, I am doing things like evaluating Master's level thesis for students pursuing a graduate degree in Education or reviewing presentations for Speech Communication courses. While it might 'look' like I am just at home in my office, I am fully engaged in the work I am doing.

Another challenge is feeling a little out of place. Some of my friends who work outside of the home lament or celebrate time away from their kids; I can't relate. Even though I work full time, I am also home with my kids and interacting with them for most of the day. Meanwhile, my friends that homeschool may talk about having to give up their career or talk about the joys of getting to sleep a bit later. My career is still moving forward and going strong, but my sleeping late? Absolutely not. I start my work day around 3:30 A.M. every morning, seven days a week.

The delights of working are that I am happy that I got to keep 'my' identity. Although I went into a different field full time when I started homeschooling, I still have a thriving career. I am contributing to my retirement account. I earn sick days and vacation days and make a fair salary. While I enjoy being a wife and mother, I also enjoy being "Dr. Jennings" and having that as a part of my identity as well.

How to Homeschool in a Hurry

As a Texan, I'm hearing reports of families planning to homeschool in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  This is an understandable reaction, especially with so many school closures in the area.

Because parents who opt to go down this path (even temporarily) are juggling disaster recovery with homeschooling, it's similar enough to "working while homeschooling" for me to feel comfortable making some suggestions rooted in my years of coaching parents.

Therefore, I've pulled together a quick, stepwise crash course on homeschooling. (Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if I've overlooked something you need to know.)

Here goes:

Step 1: Assess your schedule.

If you're reclaiming your life and belongings from wind or floods, then you're only going to have so much bandwidth to dedicate to teaching your kids. But here's the good news: most people vastly overestimate the amount of time it takes to teach a child at home. Yes, you can "school at home" and spend 8 hours doing academics, but most homeschoolers I know do not spend a full day, every weekday on teaching. Tips for creating a schedule that helps you, the parent, juggle needs can be found here.

Step 2: Keep the curriculum simple.

Frankly, since most of you likely plan to send your kids back to school--and your budget is likely tight, then I suggest taking a hard look at basic Brain Quest branded activity books to begin with for your elementary aged kiddoes. (These are usually available in Target and similar stores, but look for "Relevant and Recommended" at the bottom of this post for Amazon links.)

For tweens and teens, curriculum options get trickier because of the complexity of their academic load. Thus, I'd suggest, if you have more than one kid,  that you focus on sorting out the plan for the oldest kids first and then move down to the younger kids.

Great places to learn about specific curricula include: Cathy Duffy Reviews and the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op.  I also like Time 4 Learning if you want to go full-tilt digital with your curriculum--and you can be set up with them in a matter of ours. (They're affordably priced, too, and cover elementary through high school.)


Step 3: Ease into things.

Your family has been through a shock. There's no reason to expect that you need to be a full-fledged, pedal-to-the-floorboard homeschooling family by mid-September. Take it easy. Add a new book or a topic each week. Begin with schooling three days a week and expand to five. Carve out time daily to read aloud a classic book or, at a minimum, listen to an Audible book together. Give yourself some grace with this process and let it unfold. (And while you're at it, populate your Facebook feed with useful, encouraging pages.)

Step 4: Supplement learning with online options.

Seasoned homeschool families know that websites like PBS Kids! and apps like BrainPOP can help provide a fruitful, enriching home-learning environment. Use them alongside your local PBS station's kiddie programming freely. (A collection of parent-tested online resources can be found here.)

Step 5: Don't forget that life itself offers the greatest lessons of all.

Whether its helping you calculate how much wood to purchase to fix a rotten door frame or helping unload groceries, essential lessons of living are waiting for your children, yes, even in the wake of this disaster. In your understandable eagerness to get back to normal, try to remember that we parents can be ideal teachers for our kids.

Trust yourself.

Trust that you can teach your own.

And don't forget: we're all pulling for you!

Have questions? Need support? Reach out to the How to Work and Homeschool Facebook community.


Relevant & Recommended: 

I've included a link to Brain Quest Grade 1 in this Amazon ad, but there are other grade levels.

{Yes, I Work and Homeschool!} Meet Heather from Texas

This post is the first installment of a series about working homeschool parents. In truth, this project is something I've been wanting to do forever, so I'm excited to see where it leads.

Because the start of the traditional school year is a season in which many folks are just taking flight on their home education experiences, I thought it would be fun to start this multi-week series with a new homeschool parent.  So let's talk to my friend (and fellow Texan) Heather! ~ Pamela

Tell us about the work you do.

I work as a contract dietitian part-time. I'm on an as-needed basis with a couple of hospitals, covering vacation/family leave for other dietitians. I also do employee health training and facilitate support groups. My weekly work schedule varies from zero to forty hours, but on average it’s ten to fifteen hours. I also do a lot of volunteer things—attend public events for nutrition education, serve on a medial advisory board, and work for my chosen religious organization.

Luckily, some of that can be done at home.

Tell us about why you chose to homeschool.

My youngest child is five and will be in “Kinder" in the fall, but we are already doing homeschool-type things at home. Our son has severe allergies, and we keep a tight schedule of various therapies and specialist appointments. That's why we're homeschooling primarily, for medical reasons. I may also teach my teenager at home next year, but that’s still to be decided.

What are some of the challenges you face balancing working while homeschooling? What are some of the delights?

There is a lot of work on the front end here with preparation/planning, since I am a beginner. As I get older myself, I'm finding it a little harder to multi-task, but that may be because I have so many tasks to juggle: the ever-changing work schedule, school stuff, medical stuff, carving out time for family fun, and house maintenance.

Since I am an introvert, it has been challenging to seek out groups and play dates. At the same time, being an introvert helps me, since I’m focusing on one child right now. Honestly, it's a delight spending time with this hilarious kid, and I love that he's getting more science at home than he would in a traditional school.

Also, my mom watches him when I'm working, and as a retired teacher/children's librarian, she's fully capable of helping with homeschooling.

Dinnertime Hacks for Busy Homeschool Families

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Whether we work or volunteer outside the home or just spend a lot of time and energy keeping our households running smoothly, sooner or later we homeschool parents finding ourselves running out of steam.

More often than not, that problem seems to coincide with the dreaded “arsenic hour” which in turn coincides with the need to nourish everyone before bed time.

Phooey to all that hunger-charged chaos, right? Well, with the right tools and strategies in place recommended by veteran homeschoolers, you can say “L8R!” to supper hassles.

To get you started are these tips from the How to Work and Homeschool (HWHS) Facebook community.

All set to dig in?

Let’s go...

25+ Helpful, Awesome Facebook Pages for Homeschool Parents and Families

Maybe you're new to homeschooling and are just getting your bearings. Or perhaps you're a seasoned homeschool parent seeking some inspiration. Either way, the following compendium of quality Facebook pages will give you food for thought. 
Some pages are large; others, small. Some target homeschoolers, and others have a more general academic focus.
Still each of the following pages offers ideas, reliable links, information, and, in some cases, services to homeschool families.

Find and follow your favorites, and soon you may find that your Facebook feed feels a little smarter.

Before You Decide to Homeschool, Try This Technique!

A few years ago I used to host online webinars for prospective homeschool parents. It was a great way to build some community around the decision-making process and encourage grown ups to make custom education choices based on individual needs.

One of my favorite tools for this undertaking was one that I picked up back when I was a career adviser at UT Austin. It's called a "force field analysis," and it provides form and structure for making a decision. Kurt Lewin developed it in the 1940s. (A good overview and general how-to can be found here.)

For homeschool parents, I find that force field analyses help lay out visually where the obstacles and opportunities lie.

Here's a step-wise approach to get you started.

5 Essential Tips for Homeschool Moms Returning to the Workforce

At the very beginning of our homeschool journey I intentionally kept one foot in the working world, thinking that I'd ease my transition back into the workforce. That is until a couple of years ago, when my "job" became helping my elderly disabled mother through her last days. I let my work slip to be a caregiver.

Since Mom died last summer I've floundered a little professionally. It seems that the "world of work" is changing so rapidly that people move on, technology changes, and tried-and-true options vanish in the blink of eye.

And so, at 46 years of age and with a child still at home for a couple of more years, I became a "workforce reentry" gal.


In my mind that phrase conjures up images of 1980s women in professional dress toting briefcases. Fortunately, even though I struggled with my own mid-life reality, I had an extra set of tools in my tool kit.  

You see, once upon a time, I ran a university career center.

Granted, that was a long time ago, before I became a writer and stay-at-home mom and eldercare provider. Nevertheless, that old job gave me a framework for figuring out what I could do to get things moving in the present.

25 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Homeschool

Each homeschool family has a different journey, from start to finish.

If you're contemplating homeschooling, however, these questions will get you thinking sensibly about the road ahead.

Answers will vary, of course, and if you get to feeling "stuck" feel free to come ask the question via a message to the How to Work and Homeschool Facebook page.

  1. What are your motives for homeschooling?
  2. What are the state and local rules about homeschooling where you live?
  3. If partnered or co-parenting, are you both on-board with it?
  4. Do you see homeschooling as a short- or long-term endeavor?
  5. Will you homeschool by semester, academic or annual calendar?
  6. When will you take breaks (fall, winter holidays, spring, and/or summer)?
  7. Do you understand your child's strengths and weaknesses?
  8. Have you researched homeschool approaches?
  9. Do you know which approaches will work best for your child? For you?
  10. Are you willing to modify how you teach to fit your child's needs?
  11. Do you have a budget for homeschooling?
  12. Have you researched curriculum options with your budget in mind?
  13. What might a typical homeschool day look like for your family?
  14. If you have small children, how will you keep them occupied while teaching older kids?
  15. When might you need childcare to work or tend to another family member?
  16. If you plan to use a co-op, are you comfortable with their rules and regulations?
  17. How will you evaluate your homeschool progress?
  18. Are you prepared to teach your own with patience and compassion?
  19. What are your academic and emotional strengths and weaknesses?
  20. How will homeschooling affect your own personal goals and ambitions?
  21. Are you prepared to sequence home education to put your children's needs first and, if needed, delay some personal and professional gratification?
  22. Do you have emotional support from friends and family?
  23. If you don't have support, can you find it locally or online?
  24. How will you know that you've found your homeschool groove?
  25. What do you want to look back and say about your homeschooling years? 

A Few Helpful Resources for Homeschool Parents Trying to Find Work-from-Home Jobs

With the word "work" and the root word "home" (from "homeschool") in this website's name, I get a lot of spam from disreputable sources about "work from home" options. Similarly, I spend a great deal of time on the How to Work and Homeschool Facebook page banning spammers.

It's tiresome but necessary. Nothing rattles me quite as much as people preying upon stay-at-home moms and dads, especially when they're trying to figure out how to work and homeschool.

At the same time--whether they're just starting our with homeschooling, dealing with a temporary financial setback, or preparing for an empty nest--I know that some homeschool parents need good online resources for finding paid, flexible work.

If you're in one of those situations, here are some good places to help you get started--bearing in mind that this is not an outright endorsement by me of any of them.

The Work at Home Woman
With the goal of helping "women find remote jobs and businesses that they love" this site provides tips and tricks as well as a helpful newsletter. The related Facebook page is a useful read, too.

This site "curates" remote positions tech, marketing, customer support and so forth.

Purportedly "the world's number one job site," there's a wide array of job options here, but beware "sponsored" ads.

Popular for its commitment to transparency, Glassdoor does a good job of vetting companies. According to this story over on Pennyhoarder.com, you'll find work-from-home jobs by selecting "Remote (Work from Home)" in the search bar.

This option is best for people with college degrees and professional training. That said, I've been surprised lately at how much work I've captured through my own private LinkedIn page.

The Balance: Best Work from Home Jobs 
This last entry is actually a collection of pages from TheBalance.com has a great round up of work from home job options and website leads. (I will say regarding the entry for Craig's List, caveat emptor. Yes, some good local jobs may turn up there but so can a lot of scammers.) 

-- Pamela Price is a former academic and career adviser at The University of Texas at Austin. She's also the author of How to Work and Homeschool (GHF Press, 2013). You can find her here at HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com, on the HWHS Facebook page, or her main blog (RedWhiteandGrew.com).


Explore More: 

Below are some suggested reads on this topic via Amazon.com.
On a budget? Remember that that your local library may have these and similar titles.

Is Your Homeschool Group Friendly to Working Parents?

Pragmatic homeschool parents spend a lot of time thinking about "socialization." Concerns about ensuring children know how to "get along" with non-family members can motivate parents to sign up for co-ops as much as academic ambitions.

But here's the thing: some co-ops and traditional homeschool learning communities are challenging for some working parents.
Co-op and other learning group organizers usually expect a parent to always be in attendance, and some may turn away substitutes like grandparents or nannies.

This topic came up today in a conversation today and, to be honest, I'd never really thought about it much. I mean, I work from home but my work is also portable, for the most part. Yet some working homeschool parents find themselves needing to stay in an office or business and must rely upon someone else to do the shuttling and to help manage school work. (That's a common solution, in fact, as mentioned here.)

On the one hand, I understand organizers wanting to have a parent on hand to supervise kids and keep trouble-making behavior to a minimum during class time. On the other, I think there's a conflict at root here between old school homeschoolers (primarily faith-based folks who believe parents should be hands on with education) and new school homeschoolers (a mix of faith-based and secular parents who, for whatever reason, need to keep working).

In large metro areas with a vibrant, diverse array of options for homeschoolers, exclusion from one group is just an excuse to find (or start) another one. But for families out in rural and small-town America this could be tough to take because it feels a bit judgmental, even if it's not intended as such.

It's no big secret that some homeschool communities can be insular and prone to "icing out" questions and objections from newcomers. This makes it harder for dialogue and progress. And that's truly unfortunate because, as our child matures, I'm finding common ground--as a working homeschooler--with moms who are ready to go back to work.

Surely there's room for growth here?  A way to nurture strong communities, good academics, and learning spaces where parents with diverse needs can be included?

Some thoughts.

For working parents who find themselves in the situation of being excluded, you'll have to take a hard look at the motives for group participation in search of alternative options. Academics may be addressed via online curriculum or classes and social opportunities can be found in play groups, churches, and even eclectic choices like game nights at comic book stores. 

For existing groups who'd like to open up options for parents who must work, it might be worthwhile to revisit the "whys" of the rules that exclude participation. Rather than just keeping things the same, consider getting input from members on what might make for some middle-ground solutions. (SurveyMonkey.com is a handy tool for this, especially if you want to collect data from members anonymously.)

I'd really love to hear from more people with different perspectives on this topic.

Drop a note in comments if you'd like.

Pamela Price is the author of How to Work and Homeschool (GHF Press, 2013). Find and follow How to Work and Homeschool on Facebook.

Balancing Work with Homeschooling: The Quick and Dirty Guide

One of the most common critiques of my book is that it doesn't tell readers exactly how to work and homeschool down to which specific curriculum to buy for each child and which paying gig to line up.

Fair enough.

Having once been a new homeschooler, I understand that desire, as a parent, to have someone lay it all out for me hour by hour, year by year. Yet as a seasoned homeschool parent I know that cookie cutter approaches seldom work.

The best, most successful attempts to balance jobs and careers (and volunteerism and caregiving or whatever your "work" is) with home education involve trial and error. One year, one month, one season can vary a great deal from the next. That's a tricky concept for those of us who grew up with traditional education. But tinkering doesn't mean that you're failing or floundering.

Here are some tips to find your work and homeschool groove.

Take care of the childcare issue first. Hands down, this is the biggest problem parents face: what to do with kids when your hands are full with other tasks. Solutions include enlisting family members, hiring a nanny or babysitter, and staggering parent work schedules to get the job done. This isn't, however, a problem unique to working homeschool parents. Many moms of young children, for example, struggle to keep one child busy while attending to another. It's part of the work of parenting.

If you can't get it to work--and traditional education options remain on the table out of necessity but you still want to supplement what your kids are learning, then consider after-schooling your child on evenings and weekends using online services, apps, or curriculum targeting home educators.

Be realistic about how flexible your career is. Your job options vary by a lot of factors: your location, your skills set (and demand for it), and even the economy. A lot of working homeschoolers do work out of their homes as freelance or contract labor, but that can present challenges for income. Many homeschool families reevaluate their "needs" versus their "wants" and downsize homes and lifestyles to accommodate their efforts, but other people find that home education presents a financial hardship (or loss of healthcare coverage) they can't manage. (Note that while most homeschool families are two-parent households, there are a number of successful single moms and dads teaching their own--an important point made in my book.)

Work out the learning schedule. The biggest misconception, in my opinion, about homeschooling is that it must take place between the hours of 8 AM and 5 AM, Monday through Friday, September to June. Not true! Homeschoolers have all kinds of schedules! Here at home we go year 'round, more or less, which allows us to take regular breaks to travel. Others spend 4 to 6 weeks on, 1 to 2 weeks off. I've known people who homeschool every morning of the week and others who concentrate the action on evenings and/or weekends. If you can't wrap your head around what that might look like, then take a look at the appendix of the How to Work and Homeschool {Amazon Affiliate Link} for ideas.

Select a learning approach that fits for you. If you know other homeschoolers, they may try to "sell" you on their approach. Trouble is, what works for one family may not work at all for yours. Let me tell you a secret: when working with clients, my favorite resource for selecting an approach is the Homeschool Diner's Click-O-Matic guide coupled with a personality assessment (see this post). Using the tools laid out in those two links, you can discern better what curriculum (if any) will work optimally.

Introduce curricula or new classes gradually. There's no need to rush into things. In fact, if you've pulled a child from school due to poor educational fit, then some deschooling is in order. Work on your relationship, let them follow their bliss a bit. (Many parents end up staying in this vein of learning and resort to what's called "unschooling.") After a few days or weeks of deschooling, begin to add curricula or classes. Great places to learn about curricula include: Cathy Duffy Reviews and the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op. There are online resources, too, with popular ones among the How to Work and Homeschool Facebook community including Time 4 Learning and courses offered by Athena's Academy and GHF: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.

Find social support for the entire family. Most people worry primarily about finding socialization for their kids. In truth, parents need it, too. Look for Facebook pages and groups, play groups and classes in your community, and your neighborhood or community for places to connect with other people. That's right--people don't have to homeschool in order to make good friends for you or your kids, and online groups dedicated to homeschoolers can be a great source of support and information. In fact, I've just relaunched the How to Work and Homeschool parent discussion group on Facebook, a moderated community. We'd love to have you!

Have questions? Leave a comment or reach out to me on the Facebook page or via RedWhiteandGrew.com. (Note that I do take on a limited number of coaching clients every fall, but only if I feel that we'd be a good fit and that I can genuinely help you.)


Pamela Price is the author of  How to Work and Homeschool (GHF Press, 2013) and the founder of RedWhiteandGrew.com.


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