- Flexible hours. As an author, my career may be the one with the most flexible hours possible. I can write before school, after school, during lunch, after the kids are in bed – I can write at 3 A.M. if I want! Flexible hours make it possible to work around your homeschooling schedule, rather than homeschool around your working schedule. Alternatively…
- Strictly scheduled working hours. Yes, I know – it looks like a total contradiction. I admit, it kind of is. But, it’s true. If you can’t have flexible hours that let you work around your homeschooling schedule, then the next best thing is a very strict working schedule. As long as you have very specific working hours that never (or at least, very, very rarely) change, you can organize a schedule to homeschool around that. The main thing, whether you have flexible hours or strict ones, is to make sure that you can easily determine when and how many hours you can spend homeschooling, so that you can get the most out of it.
- Organization. Organization is crucial to homeschool, whether you work or not. But if you’ve got limited time because you work, the last thing you want to do is waste any of that valuable time searching for the things you need. Keep all your supplies together. Spend a few hours on your day off planning your lessons for the following week (or two!) and getting together all the materials you’ll need: print out worksheets, find books, create a comprehensive list of the sites you’ll need, get together any papers, pencils, craft supplies, etc. that you’ll need. If there are things you’ll need but don’t have on hand, make a shopping list and hit the store. Go over things at least twice, and maybe even more, to ensure that you won’t find yourself making a last minute trip to the store or tearing your house apart looking for an item that you need.
- Simplicity is key. Simplify anything you can. Purchase Kindles for books – not only does a Kindle take up much less space than physical books, you can get the classics for free, which is great when it comes to reading. Use the Internet to download and print worksheets, rather than buying a bunch of workbooks that you might not have space for or use completely. Don’t spend days or weeks going over the same material if you’ve determined that your child understands it and is ready to move on.
- Support, support, support! Support is important even if you don’t work. But if you work, and particularly if you work outside the home full-time, support is absolutely crucial. You’ll need support from the babysitter/daycare center that will be watching your child while you’re working. You’ll need support from family and friends when you are feeling frazzled and at the end of your rope. You’ll need people who will remind you why you’re doing this when you feel like you want to give up. You don’t want people who will jump at the chance to tell you why you should put your child in public school, or who will tell you that you aren’t capable or qualified to homeschool, or who will try to convince you that you’re not being successful when you’re having a bad day.
- Prioritize. Prioritizing is also crucial. The hours you work will determine how much time you have for things besides homeschooling and work. The less time you have, the fewer things you’ll be able to do besides work, plan for homeschooling and actually homeschool. So all your hobbies and interests will have to be prioritized. But that’s not all. When you have limited time for schooling, you may have to prioritize what gets taught and when. You’ll have to play with different schedules: teaching every subject every day, teaching X subjects one day and Y subjects the next, focusing a week at a time on each subject, whatever schedule works for you. It’ll take trial and error to find what works for you and your family.
This is not necessarily a complete list, but it does cover the main things that I found when I began homeschooling. You can also check out my page on Single Parent Homeschooling for more tips on making work and homeschooling work.