Working Homeschoolers: Setting a Schedule that Works

working homeschoolers scheduleWorking homeschoolers

By now you've decided that you can indeed homeschool even though you still have to (or want to) work. Now it's time to figure out the "how" of making it all work. No matter what you do for a living, homeschooling while you work really is a case of deciding upon priorities. I have found that when I do the right thing for myself and my family (which is not to say that's always easy), doors seem to open and opportunities appear. I just need to be awake enough to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

That said, juggling work and homeschool sometimes leaves me feeling like a failed circus clown. 

How do you set a schedule that works?

Start with figuring out how many hours per day or week you work and spend on schooling. It might look something like this:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri  Sat/Sun
Work 5 hrs  5 hrs  4 hrs  15 hrs
School 3 hrs  6 hrs  3 hrs  4 hrs  6 hrs

Spreadsheets will be your friend. They don't have to be complicated, and simple is probably better, but having something like this that is visual so that you can see where you spend your time is valuable.

After you have a rough idea of what sort of time you spend on which activity, adding things like time spent on housework, meal planning, etc. Keep in mind that any of items on your list that revolve around keeping things moving at home can and should be used as part of your child's schooling! If you think about the number of young adults who have little or no life skills, the reason behind this is obvious.

How much are your children willing or able to do independently?

Can they do their math review mostly on their own or do you need to be there for every moment? Will they finish their Latin if you're not looking?

If they are able to do some independent work, that's great! It really makes working easier. If they're not, then scheduling appropriately is even more important.

Set up school assignments a week or two ahead

Yes, I know how difficult this one is. I am a "Wing-it" type of person myself, but when I started scheduling a week or two ahead, giving them permission to go ahead in their work if they'd like a day off, they took off!

I explained that I would give them assignments at a pace that would have them graduating from high school at about age 17, just like everyone in school. If they choose to go ahead, they have a chance of completing all that work early. I also explained that each week's work needed to be completed by the end of the week, and if it wasn't finished, they would have homework over the weekend. They were in full control. I am there for any help they need on these assignments, and am more than happy to help! But they are capable of doing most of it themselves.

Be flexible!

I know, we hear this one all the time. But flexibility is key in thriving (or even just surviving) when you have to work and homeschool. When life happens, sometimes you have to put things on hold. Sometimes, like recently for us, you have to skip a day or two to help an ill family member (my 88-year-old grandmother just had open heart surgery); sometimes, you just need a break.

There you have it.

Ideas on setting a schedule from what has worked for us - what about you? What helped you become more able to balance homeschooling and work?

Gail Nelson

Gail is a mom to four kids, two of whom are at home being homeschooled. She teaches violin and viola, and wrote Teach Your Kids Music in 12 Weeks, and blogs sporadically at As Editor in Chief of Learning Tangent, she oversees the daily operations of the magazine.

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