Dear parents: we get it—you're locked down, homeschooling while still trying to feed a family and pay the bills, and you feel like your head is going to explode.
Homeschooling for working parents can be a challenge at best and, at worst, an exercise in daily anxiety control and flat-out survival. It can be especially tricky during a situation like the one we find ourselves in with the COVID-19. Many families find that with school closures everywhere, they are suddenly forced to homeschool. Even more of those still-working couples are wondering, "How am I possibly going to do this?"
It's cold comfort, but the fact is you aren't alone. This same question is being asked all over the world. However, parents are being way harder on themselves than they need to be. Help and wisdom are out there if you look and ask, and we're here to provide you with some. In other words, we did some digging for you.
Homeschooling for working parents can be a challenge at best and, at worst, an exercise in daily anxiety control and flat-out survival.
Here at Wabisabi, we both understand and adore homeschooling parents. The teaching platform we've provided with the Wabisabi Academy is both flexible and affordable for all homeschooling parents, whether you're working or not.
As you explore these tips about homeschooling for working parents, remember that it's going to be hard. Once you embrace the challenge and commit to it, though, you'll find yourself—and your learners— getting better at it every day. So settle in, grab your favourite hot beverage, and let's look at what you need to know.
Remember to be flexible.
You don't have to devote 7 to 8 hours a day to schooling. The truth is, learning can happen at any time of the day, but some days will be far more productive than others. In this article from Fast Company, working parents who also homeschool share the secret of time management as the willingness to provide flexibility in the day.
Consider swapping shifts with a co-worker, or asking your boss for a more flexible schedule. If you can do so, you may also be able to hire a sitter or tutor to take up the slack while you and your spouse are away. You can even think about online programs that kids can take on their own while you are away working.
Give of yourself when you can.
At those times when you can be present, give kids your full and undivided attention. If you take a break, check on them and see if they have any questions. At Oak Meadow, a homeschool custom curriculum provider, they state the importance of giving full attention to promoting a sense of inclusion for learners who may be going it alone while you work. "Let them know that they are the priority during your non-work times, and make the most of it for everyone involved."
The truth is, learning can happen at any time of the day, but some days will be far more productive than others.
Create a routine, but not necessarily a schedule.
Scheduling homeschooling can be a gamble, especially for working parents. In truth, imposing a rigid schedule does two things to the homeschooling experience. First, it places an expectation on you that you MUST teach this thing at that time and for this long, which can be counterintuitive to the process of forging the natural pathways that lead to genuinely authentic learning experiences. The second thing it does is cause you undue stress and makes you feel like a failure when real life prevents you from doing so. Neither one of these things makes for a healthy and productive homeschool environment.
For working parents, especially ones who work from home, teaching kids about what you do can be an excellent learning experience.
On the other hand, having a routine can be extremely beneficial. For example, perhaps the day begins with beds being made and bathing, followed by breakfast and clean-up. After that, homeschooling begins and lasts for however long it needs to. Next, maybe there is some time for play and relaxation or reading before or after lunch. This is just one example of how a routine can still welcome plenty of wiggle room.
Mary Sauer makes an essential distinction between schedules and routines. It's this awareness that's allowed here to succeed as a homeschooling and working parent. "A schedule is rigid, but a routine orders your days with flexibility, "she claims. "Once I created a routine and truly committed to it, our days changed completely."
Involve your kids in what you do.
For working parents, and especially ones who work from home, teaching your kids about what you do can be an excellent learning experience for them. It can depend on what ages your kids are and what your business is, but recruiting them on different levels can teach them valuable skills around responsibility, organisation, and work ethic.
The Canadian Homeschooler makes the following suggestions:
"Some ways they can be involved could include labelling catalogues, packing orders, writing reviews, video editing, sorting shelves, setting up and taking down displays, helping to come up with product ideas, and more. You can also just sit them beside you if you have to work on a computer – having them feel like they are important enough to be there is good too. You can even set up a special workstation so they can copy what you are doing."
Step away from curriculum.
It's true that plenty of parents who homeschool use a structured curriculum to instruct their children in the subjects they'd normally learn in school. However, just as many parents are unschooling their children, which means no mandated curriculum is used at all.
In the article What Can Unschooling Teach Our Children? we talk about every day being a different adventure in learning when you unschool learners. Unschooling is a curriculum based on real-life experience and situations, which means it will vary significantly from day to day by default. It's also a way of teaching that mainly lets students take the lead in deciding what they learn and how they learn it.
How Homeschooling Can Work While You Work
Wabisabi Academy is a global network of micro-schools built on the world's first flexible education platform and aligned to national curriculum standards. It's a higher quality learning experience at a lower cost and is available anywhere.
There are no online courses and multiple-choice tests. Instead, we have master teacher advisors that work with you directly to create individualised learning plans for every learner. For families, this is a solution to meaningful learning for today and the future. We fit into the life of the family, facilitate and manage the learning to co-create a transferable portfolio of evidence aligned to national education standards.
You can find out more by visiting the Wabisabi Academy's official website.
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