I suspect there are a lot of people who would love to homeschool their children but decide against it because both parents have to work. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Some situations make it easier than others. On the Well-Trained Mind forum, which is a tremendous place for good information of all sorts on excellent homeschooling, there are quite a few college professors who homeschool their children. That seems like the perfect combination to me since the number of hours actually spent in class is fairly small. Other situations where it is possible to combine homeschooling and work are jobs where one can work from home like I have. I work as a medical transcriptionist, and since I am an independent contractor, I can set my own hours just so long as all the work is done within 24 hours.

Whatever the situation, the trick to making it work is to help the children take responsibility for their own education to as large a degree as possible. Here are a few things that help with that:

  1. Give them lists for the week or day. This is probably the most important thing. They need to know what they have to get done in the day and when the are done.
  2. Give them the freedom to choose the order of their work. The older they are, the more freedom they should have in figuring out what to do when.
  3. Help them figure out how they work best. Do they do better with shorter subjects with breaks in between? Do they do better with fewer longer subjects each day? Right now, my 7th grader and I are experimenting with a block schedule because she tends to get distracted in between subjects but does well when she’s focused on one thing for a long time.
  4. Take homeschooling time VERY seriously. If you have young children, this may be just the time between 9 and 11 or 9 and 12, and the rest of the time is free for play dates, grocery shopping, and time in the park. If you have teenagers, the block of time is likely to be much longer, but if homeschooling is frequently interrupted for other parts of life, the children are less likely to take it seriously, and the same may be true for your in-laws. 🙂
  5. Find the best time for your work. If you have the option to work in the early morning or in the evening, that might be best, especially if you have small children who need constant supervision. I often get up quite early to get some work done before the rest of the household is awake, and then I save the rest of it for afternoons. That means I devote mornings to subjects that the children need me for, and I’m just available for help with homeschooling as needed in the afternoons, but I focus mostly on work during that time. That’s especially true with the baby. His afternoon nap time is precious work time for me.
  6. Another big part of making work and homeschooling function together has to do with chores. If you are considering this, it may be necessary for the children to do more chores than they would otherwise. Ultimately, I think that’s good for them, and the bigger your family is, the more important this is. There’s lots of information on chore charts and such around the internet, but I’ll try to post something on this soon.
  7. Last but not least is to try to make learning something positive and joyful to the extent that it can be done. Much of that will have to do with your attitude, and your attitude toward your own work will also rub off on theirs as well.

Meanwhile, happy juggling!