While the number of U.S. parents homeschooling their children continues to grow, many families depend on two-parent incomes and can’t envision managing to homeschool in addition to working full or part time jobs outside the home. Although combining homeschooling with a full time job is not an easy road to travel, many parents manage to arrange their schedules and family lives to permit both things to happen simultaneously. It’s a challenging task, but with perseverance and strong planning and organizational skills, many families have made it happen.
Many parents both continue to work at their career job while sharing the responsibility of homeschooling their children. The good news is, homeschooling does not have to happen on the same schedule as a normal public school day. In the majority of states, the school year is set at 180 days and most states set the length of a school day at just under 5.5 hours or 20-25 hours per week. Simple math tells you that you will be required to homeschool your child an average of just less than half the calendar year. The good news is that homeschool parents are free to schedule classroom time around their fulltime work commitment. Classes can be scheduled on any day, at any time of the day. If a parent works a normal 8 – 5 job, it is possible that they can create a year-round homeschool schedule that involves an average of only 10-12 hours a week – a schedule that can be “squeezed” when the family wants to spend time vacationing or travelling. In addition, school hours can be scheduled to occur during travel time. (NOTE: for a state-by-state listing of required number of attendance days in a school year, visit the website of the Education Commission of the States in Denver, CO: http://www.ecs.org/state-legislation-reports-on-attendance/ ).
Data Tracking and Record Keeping
Record keeping is generally a big issue with homeschool families. It’s a responsibility that’s added on to teaching time, and is often a source of frustration, impatience and anxiety. Some online K-12 curriculum sources provide data tracking tools that make record keeping direct, clear and simple. A state-of-the-art example of an excellent record keeping system is offered by Global Student Network (Goto: https://www.globalstudentnetwork.com/homeschool-students-online-homeschool/homeschool-records-made-simple.html.) The record keeping system (free to GSN customers) enables homeschool families to track classes and generate report cards and transcripts and allows parents to create a private account into which they can enter classes their students have taken along with the corresponding grades. The record-keeping service:
- Calculates GPA;
- Determines cumulative credits;
- Prints report cards; and
- Prints transcripts.
Based on the 180-day public school calendar, two working parents can design a schedule that allows sharing of subjects and instructional time. In addition, parents can supplement their own teaching time by hiring tutors for individual subjects. Many homeschooling families also belong to co-ops that schedule group learning or special instruction activities one or more days per week. Co-ops also provide the opportunity for homeschool students to go to classes and activities outside the home.
Online learning options are ideal for making homeschooling feasible for a two-career home. In addition to providing self-paced learning in an engaging and motivating format, online curriculum enables students to be independent learners. Students in middle school and high school can self-direct much of their learning using internet-based courseware. An excellent source for online curriculum is Global Student Network, where families can find a variety of courseware from one location.
With certified teachers facilitating learning, an online school adds a layer of support and structure many homeschool families find ideal. International Virtual Learning Academy (IVLA) is an accredited online school for students in grades K-12. With IVLA, families are able to choose the curriculum to best fit their student’s needs.
The Key to Making Your Schedule Work
The overall key to working fulltime while homeschooling your children is to assess the hours, days, months available for instruction time, educational and learning tasks, your work schedule and your ideal family schedule, online learning options, and, then, like a jigsaw puzzle, move all the pieces around until the homeschool picture is complete. It CAN be done!!