How to Make Homeschooling or Unschooling Work for You and Your Child
Why Parents are Choosing Unschooling/Homeschooling?
Homeschooling and unschooling are becoming more popular in today’s society. A study, by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), showed that 3.3% of student’s in the United States are being homeschooled. From this study two of the most popular reasons for homeschooling were first, a concern about the environment and influences at the school, and second, a dissatisfaction with academic instruction.
Students have many challenges when it comes to school. They face influences such as drugs, bullying and peer pressure. This can harm a student’s ability to learn and their self-esteem. These can all have a lifelong negative effect on the student. Parents see news reports and read about the negative affects and will decide homeschooling is the best alternative for their children.
Schools also use standardized curriculum and tests to measure a student’s progress. But students do not all learn and progress at the same rate. They are forced to measure up or face the consequences. Consequences can lead to a student being left behind or being unchallenged. This adds unnecessary stress on a student.
Whatever the reason, parents are finding more desire to teach their children from home. As much as they may want to pull their children out of conventional school, there are barriers that they will encounter. These barriers can range from state requirements to their own personal barriers.
Barriers for Parents
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has their own requirements. Some require parents to have a diploma and for a form to be submitted with the intent to homeschool. What subjects you plan to teach and what hours you will be teaching are some of the questions on the forms. This is probably one of the easiest barriers to deal with.
A second barrier parents will face, and the one I am addressing, is the logistics of homeschooling. If you have a two-parent household in which both parents’ have careers, finding the time to fit in homeschooling your child can be seen as troublesome. But in reality, it can be really simple.
What is Homeschooling/Unschooling
Traditional homeschooling and unschooling are two subsets of the homeschooling ideology. Traditional homeschooling will be done with someone teaching a set of core subjects either through the use of books, experience or an online curriculum outside a school environment. These can be taught or supervised by the parent, online, other parents, or someone hired to teach the student.
Unschooling is taught more as a learn based on your own interests’ path. The student has a direct influence on what they are being taught and how they will learn. This gives them freedom to flourish in areas that they have a strong interest in. The parents can provide the avenues for the student to find the information and be there for support, but it is a more laid-back approach and hands-off for the parents. Students will learn when they want and what they want in their own time, without a set curriculum.
When Two Parents Work, Is It Possible?
In today’s society, a lot of families include two working parents. According to a 2018 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percent of families that had both parents working was about 63%. Surviving in today’s economy almost requires both parents to contribute to the household finances. But there are also families in which both parents desire to work. Either way, having two parents who work, can present challenges to a child’s schooling.
It can make it feel like parents are forced to choose between homeschooling their children or working. Many families believe that they cannot have both. But if homeschooling is what they really desire, it can be done.
Whatever the reasoning for homeschooling, whether it is based on environmental factors, academic standards, or some other reason, a parent should not feel so much pressure to choose. Providing for family is important, but so is the well-being and education of the children.
If both parents are working, how can they handle the schooling of their children? There are so many resources available today that allow parents to homeschool their children. Some possible solutions include parents working different shifts, students accompanying the parents to their jobs, or having someone else supervise the student while they are working.
When both parents work, homeschooling has to be something they really want for their children to make it work. They don’t have the luxury of one parent staying home to take care of all the schooling. Both parents need to work together to come up with a plan. If the parents are not totally dedicated to the idea of making it work, the student’s education will start to suffer.
What if You and Your Spouse Work Different Shifts
When parents work different shifts, homeschooling can be done by one parent or can be divided between the parents. Bringing someone from outside the home, like another homeschooling parent, a friend or family member to supervise can also help. Whatever works best for your family. Having outside help can really help when you have overlapping shifts to account for the time neither parent will be home.
If one parent excels at teaching and wants to do all the teaching, they can do it all at once or split it up before and after their shift. When both parents want to contribute, you can have one parent work with the student a few hours and then have the other parent work with them for a few hours. Splitting up the work can also give the student a break and allow them time to refocus.
Working different shifts and planning time to homeschool the student can put a strain on your family. Even though your plate can seem full, don’t forget to schedule family time and time for you and your spouse. This time is important to your family dynamic and should not be overlooked.
What if You’re Both Working the Same Shift
Parents that work the same shift can be a different story. Unless one parent works from home, you will definitely have to have some outside help. The help can come from someone overseeing the curriculum they have planned, another homeschooling parent or someone to just supervise their child in general.
If you are wanting to be in charge of the curriculum of your child, you will need to set aside time to develop lesson plans. If you are going to have someone else taking care of your child while you work, you need to make sure they have your plans and know your expectations.
There is another option for traditional homeschooling. If you do not want to be the one in charge of creating the curriculum, there are many online schools and businesses that provide and sell curriculums. You can choose to have your entire curriculum taken care of for you or you can pick and choose the courses you want your child to learn from them.
What Are My Curriculum Options?
Design Your Own Curriculum
Choosing to start from scratch with your curriculum will give you complete control over what your student will learn. There are books, workbooks and other online resources to help you create a curriculum and write out lesson plans. This way of doing a curriculum can be a way of schooling your child without having to pay reoccurring fees each month, semester, or year. You may save money going the route, but you will spend more time developing your curriculum, teaching it, grading, etc. The trade off is having complete control.
For parents that both work, this can be a little time-consuming. You will need to block off time to do your curriculum and teach the student. If this is the path you want to take, find resources online to help you develop a plan and implement your curriculum. There are both paid and free resources out there. You may need to spend some time digging to find resources that fit your style.
Even though this may be a little more time-consuming than other options, it can be done with two working parents. If everyone does their part, it can be a fantastic experience. Keep in mind that you will need to still fit in family time to keep a healthy family dynamic.
There are 120 hours from Monday to Friday. If you work 40 hours and sleep 40 hours, you still have 40 hours to devote to family time, household upkeep, and homeschooling. You also have 48 hours for the weekend. Saying that you both work and don’t have time is just an excuse we use to help us deal with the overwhelming thoughts in our head.
Online Homeschool Classes
Choosing an online school or curriculum that is already set up will save you time, but will require tuition or fees. These courses allow your student to learn on the computer. The work can be done at any point during the day. It can be done after the parents get home or during the day wherever they are staying. The parent should still stay active in the process by looking over the student’s progress and grades. Parents can also follow up by teaching, or explaining in more depth, topics that the student did not fully understand.
Having the curriculum already planned out for you, can be a real time-saver. If you work alternate shifts than your partner, this can come in real handy when it comes to planning family time and upkeeping your home.
Different from teaching the child directly from books or online courses is the topic of unschooling. A parent can let the student lead their education by letting them choose what subjects or topics interest them. If the student is really into a certain area, they can learn more information by going to the library, looking online, or finding in person activities to learn all they want about a particular subject.
This particular way of teaching can be a good option for a family with two working parents. Every experience or trip to the library can be a way for the student to learn. When you go to the supermarket, they will look at items that interest them and can figure out the cost and think about how long they would need to save up allowance to buy it. They just had math class. Going to the library and they pick out a book that interest them, you have literature and language arts covered. The book they choose could be about how things work. Now you have science covered.
The possibilities are endless when you choose unschooling. When both parents work, a trip around town to run errands, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, etc. can all be used as teachable moments. Things that need to be done before and after work will be done and the student will learn by just living life. There will be no need to plan a specific time if you both are working. Just use the time when you are not working allowing your student’s knowledge to expand without having to set up a specific time, place, or subject. They will learn what they want, when they want, and at their own pace.
Homeschooling when both parents work is possible. My story is a little different than most for my reasoning. It was not really a thing my husband and I had really discussed in detail. We have four children and only one was on the list of possibilities. We both worked full time and the same shift. Coordination was always how we made it work.
Our oldest had some mental health issues that made schooling difficult. I was having to leave my job repeatedly to go to school and tend to him. Luckily, I had a pretty understanding boss. Being open with your boss about things like this actually made her sympathize with me and all I was dealing with.
It started out as an occasional talk with my husband about how traditional school was not going to work for him. I was lost and didn’t know what we were going to do. His grades were slipping, he was miserable, and he was missing a lot of days from being picked up early constantly. It was not really my choice to pick him up early. I tried to get him to stay, but they began telling me to come get him.
Things got worse and he eventually had to be pulled out of school. Pulling him out was actually one of the best things we could have done for him. He was able to attend a mental health facility schooling for a few months to get his mental health in check. Then we progressed into homeschooling.
Even though we had occasionally talked about it, we had never made an actual plan. The few months that he did the alternative schooling, I was able to spend my spare time making a plan for homeschool. We did it all while both working full time, raising four kids, one kid in travel ball, multiple weekly therapy appointments and still had family time.
At first, I thought that since I had a Bachelor degree that I could do it making my own curriculum. My husband never really liked school and since I did, he let me be the ring leader. I bought books, a lesson planner, workbooks, you name it. I was excited and ready to go. My mother and mother-in-law had agreed to help me keep him during our work time.
I would give him assignments at the beginning of the week and told him to take his time, take some breaks and work at his own pace. He had about nine hours to work at the sitters, while my husband and I worked. Our sitters were also given a lesson plan so that they could check up on him throughout the day.
This worked for a little while until he found a way to dupe them. They would think he had done all his work, but he would do little tricks to make it look like it was done. We then moved it to him working in the evenings after I got home. This caused a lot of frustration amongst the whole family due to the extra time I was having to devote to him.
Next, I decided maybe computer work would be easier for him and I could get updates throughout the day while I was at work. This became our savior. When I saw him not working very much or getting behind, I could call his sitter up and have them adjust different things to get him back on track. His grades began to go up and he was happy with his schooling. We added some fun activities to the mix so that it didn’t get so boring for him. A trip somewhere, watching documentaries, having the family join in on some of the learning, and activities that aligned with any special interest he had at the moment.
Things were great. We had a homeschooler, middle schooler, elementary schooler, and a three-year-old. We were able to juggle all the demands of school, the travel baseball, the crazy toddler, and family time. It isn’t a piece of cake, but if you stay diligent and find the right type of schooling that fits your student, it will work. It’s a type of trial and error.
The key is persistence. Do what is best for your family and your child. If you keep at it and adjust accordingly, your child and family will thrive.