Can You Homeschool When You Work Full Time? Yes!
Many parents consider homeschooling their child but are put off or concerned that they won’t be able to fit it in around a full time job. I’m always thrilled when I can reassure someone who has asked me, “Can I homeschool and work full time?” We recently launched our FREE homeschool timetable (with all activities included and explained!) and over 8000 people are already using it, so feel free to download it for fun ideas and a gentle daily rhythm with your children.
If you are looking for activity ideas without a timetable, check out these easy & brilliant homeschooling activities.
It is entirely possible to homeschool when you have a full time job, even if that job is outside the home, and this blog post will help you discover creative ways you can make it work. You may wish to take a look at my other homeschooling blog posts with articles on exams, socialisation, costs, homeschool styles and more as well as 100+ brilliant UK homeschool resources!
I personally work and homeschool my three children, and people often ask me how and why I do it. The answer?
The ‘why’ is that I love it, and that motivates me to make it work. The ‘how’ is that I built a business that I can run from home.
Is it easy?
Ha! Is anything worthwhile easy, really? Although I LOVE homeschooling and I LOVE my job (running the website you are reading from right now), and I wouldn’t change it for the world, it is a lot to take on.
How Is It Legally Possible To Homeschool With A Full Time Job?
There are four things that make it legally possible to homeschool while working full time. They are:
- There is no legal requirement to stick to school-style hours when homeschooling, as “full time education” is not specified in more detail. This means that learning can happen in the morning, afternoon, evening, the middle of the night… any time!
- You are not legally obliged to follow the national curriculum or indeed any curriculum. This means that you don’t have to stress about completing a certain number of workbooks or aim for a set volume of written work about any subject. The law states that homeschooled children should be provided with an age appropriate full time education- it does not dictate what age appropriate is, so anything from swimming to museums to websites to puzzles to art to meet-ups counts as education.
- There is no legal minimum age that you can leave your child at home during the day (but this must not put the child at risk- obviously). If you have a mature, sensible 12 year old for example who is well aware of how to look after themselves, contact you if they need to and contact emergency services, they may be able to be at home while you work.
- There is no legal maximum age limit for which you can use childcare- so you can arrange babysitters or childminders whenever you like.
These four factors mean that the foundational factors are in place for you to homeschool while working full time. It may not be entirely straightforward or easy but it is possible, especially if you are creative and flexible with your time and resources.
How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?
If you are considering a change in work in order to homeschool you may be concerned as to how much it costs to homeschool. I have written a full blog post on the costs of homeschooling, including the exact amount we spend each month.
Childcare Ideas For Homeschooling With A Full Time Job
Here are some ideas for childcare that may help you homeschool while working full time. Below this are ideas for learning opportunities that may be particular suitable for children who are learning independently while you work outside of the home, as well as some fun and educational ideas for homeschooling together “out of hours” (early mornings and evening/night time!)
- Do a childcare swap with another homeschool mum, or a mum with a preschool child. These mums may relish a day to either work or have some free time, so you can have their child one day and they have yours another.
- Pay a childminder. If your child is not old or mature enough to be at home on their own, a childminder may be a good bet. They are often reasonably priced and school-age children can benefit from a quiet environment throughout the day if the childminder’s other charges have already been dropped at school or nursery. It also means there is an adult there to help them if they are doing homeschool work during the day.
- Hire an au pair. If you have a spare room in your house, a live in au-pair may be a great and affordable option for someone to be around during the day to watch your child, especially if your child is a bit older and fairly independent. Many au-pairs are bilingual so this may be a great opportunity to introduce other languages to your child too!
- Book drop-off homeschool groups. Organised days like forest school groups or subject-focused groups are a great option to both give you time to work and provide a fun and educational activity for your child. If you need time either side of the group perhaps consider asking another homeschool mum to do the pick up or drop off, and either return the favour or gift them a regular voucher or other thank-you token.
- Ask friends or family to take it in turns to look after your child. This works especially well if you have family near, or friends who you can reciprocate with.
- If you work shifts, see if it is possible to arrange shifts that make it easier on your childcare schedule.
- If you have a partner, see if they are able to rearrange their work hours so that you have the opposite shifts occasionally. Of course you don’t want to do this too much as you will miss having time together as a couple and family, but it can be a shorter term solution for getting those childcare slots filled.
- Take your kids to work with you, if you can.
- Flexi-school. This means children attend school for a portion of the week and are at home for the rest. If you can’t make other childcare arrangements work this might be a way to compromise while you figure out alternative work options.
- If homeschooling with a full time job is proving too much to handle, consider a change in career. Working from home is how I both homeschool my three children and make an income at the same time (sometimes literally!)
Other Tips On How To Homeschool With A Full Time Job
- Homeschooling is hectic, and so is holding down a job. I personally find that there is very little (or no) mental energy left to come up with lesson plans or creative ideas. If you and your child wish to have some structure or follow a curriculum I would recommend getting one with the work done for you, ie grab and go lessons that are ready to simply read and do with no prep work. The best curriculum I have found for this is the Horizons curriculum, which can either be used traditionally or as a resource that you can dip in and out of. I have a post about the different homeschool styles and curriculums here and the top rated curriculums for younger children here.
- Plan and keep family time sacred. Ensure you get family movie nights with blankets and popcorn, or walks in the woods, or days to the beach, and date nights. Homeschooling can be intense and so is working full time, and doing both is only sustainable if you plan quality time for self care and relationship maintenance.
- Use mornings and evenings creatively! When you can, get up to watch a sunrise together or go to a local woods before dawn to hear the birds’ dawn chorus. Take photos of spiders’ webs or frost or dew on the grass during golden hour. In the evenings, go for a late-night trip to the park or a late-night swim, or a walk to see bats and local nocturnal wildlife, or a late cinema trip when you’d usually be in bed. There are lots of very special and unique memories to be made when you get out and about when everyone else is tucked up asleep, so look at homeschooling while working full time as an opportunity to grab these opportunities with both hands!
- Get a planner. My goodness, you need a planner. A calendar won’t cut it if you are trying to keep track of what your child or children are up to with regards to learning; a comprehensive homeschool planner has the space to enter all the info you need such as who needs to be where at what time, what subjects or learning adventures you are in the middle of, as well as grocery lists, meal plans and other essential household organisation!
- Outsource everything else you possibly can. Want a cleaner? Get one, if you afford it. Don’t want to shop and cook? Get one of those subscription boxes where all your meals are planned out for you and you just chuck it in a pan, or get some ready meals, or do some meal prep. Don’t want to shower? Hire someone to wash your hair. (Kidding.) Seriously though, however you do it, just outsource like your life depends on it.
6. Seek support from other home educators who understand what it is like to balance both a job and homeschooling. Take a look at my post on UK homeschooling support groups to find like-minded people to help you in your journey!
Practical Tips For Homeschooling & Working Full Time In The Current Climate (CV)
If you are reading this, you are probably at home and trying to work alongside caring for your children. This is an extremely unique and trying time for everyone and the usual guidelines of homeschooling and working don’t apply at the moment- nobody can really get childcare and most people are also doing this temporarily, until it is safe to reopen.
Laura McCartney (qualified teacher, homeschooling mum of 4 and creator of this excellent homeschool timetable) and I have put together the following tips to make it workable.
The absolute foundation to making this current situation work is to change your expectations. Many parents we have spoken to are anxious that they can’t give their child a full time education as well as working, supporting their family emotionally and completing the plethora of housework tasks that need doing each day.
It is 100% physically impossible to do this- imagine if we asked schoolteachers to do another full-time job as well as getting a ton of cooking, cleaning and other childcare done while they had their class. There’s no way anyone would think that was realistic so don’t expect this from yourself!
Your expectations at this time need to be reduced to the practical minimum- keeping your children safe and fed, and doing what work you can around looking after them. Is there really another way of doing this? Take it from two people who between us have over 2 decades of experience in the teaching & homeschooling world- there isn’t.
Get partners on board
If you have a partner, sit down and plan out your week together. Be extremely specific with regards to when each of you will work and even divide up the chores for the week- the more clear you are with your plan the less you will stress in the week as you’ll all know where you stand. If you have a partner who is also working from home, see if you can move your hours so that one person is with the children and one working and then switch.
Let Them Crack On (& STREW!)
If you have older children, home educators expect their kids to get on with things by themselves and it may be that you need to be very clear with your kids that you need X amount of time to do some work- let them know how long for, make sure they’re set up with some activities and then let them know what you will do together when you’ve finished work, so it feels safe for them.
To make this easier, there is a great homeschool hack called ‘strewing’ which requires about 3 minutes (and no extra resources) and I’ve written about how to do it in this post ‘How to use strewing for homeschooling & boredom busting’ (it really is life changing!)
Don’t Worry About Babies
If you have a baby, homeschooling parents essentially wing it and the baby just fits in with whatever we do with the older kids. Baby rolls around on the floor or sits in high chair, bouncer or is in a sling while we see to the older kids.
Accept The Reality
It is messy. You get interrupted a lot. That is fine, there would be constant distractions at school too.
Consider wearing a hat (literally) when you are working and take it off when you are not to physically signal your availability to your children.
Rethink Your Timings
We often work in the evenings, early in the morning or when the kids are doing their own thing (activities, playing or some kind of screen). Make sure that if you do this you give yourself down time and do what you need to do to feel ok- if you need to crash on the sofa for the afternoon with films then do it.
Forget Screen Shaming!
Screens are your friend. No one wants to use them loads but no one has ever had a worldwide virus and had to have their kids at home which they work either- screens are keeping us safe, by helping us stay home and helping us and our kids stay happy. If you need to get on with work and the only way that is going to happen is with an iPad or film, do it. This won’t be forever!
Don’t Be A Hero
If you are usually the primary carer for your child and you are also working from home, this is going to be tough and it’s essential that you communicate to your partner that you need them to do more than they usually do- it is a big adjustment for everyone and trying to do *everything* is unsustainable.
Finally- even if your child did absolutely no school work and played on loads of iPad for the whole of the quarantine, they would be fine, it is a very short period of time in the context of their lives. None of this is ideal but schools will make adjustments and allowances for everything the children are going through and the last thing you need to worry about is your children “falling behind”, all schoolchildren have stopped their schooling at the same time so nobody is ‘falling behind’ any more than anyone else. If this is a concern for you, you might find this post about why I ignored my kids’ milestones helpful.
I hope this post has been helpful in answering the question “Can I homeschool and work full time?” Please share this post and thank you for reading!