Saturday, August 9, 2014

Working and homeschooling, our journey

We began our new year just last week.  The kids did really well, and I think we are off to a great start.  I'm excited to try the new year round schedule, where we school for 6 weeks then take 1 week off.  Yes it is going to take us all into the summer; but summer is hot here and it's hard to plan activities when it's miserably steamy outside.  So I'm excited to give this new arrangement a try.

Most people ask me "how can you work full time, and homeschool?"  No, I'm not a superwoman, I have no special powers.  I don't have a maid, or a laundry person. There are no babysitters ready to step in when we need a break.   It's just my husband, myself, and the kids here.

Once we decided to homeschool, I searched all over cyberspace for blogs from moms who were in the same situation as I, and didn't find many.  There are tons of posts out there about working from home and homeschooling; and I've learned a bit from them.  But our situation is still very different.  

I'm working full time outside of my house, in an office; while the schooling is taking place at my house.  My husband works part time; and although it is from home, it isn't a desk job.  He has to be outside to do his job, and we are thankful he has the flexibility to do most of the schooling.

So what is a mom who works full time away from home to do if she wants to homeschool?  In my personal experience, you need a partner who is committed to making homeschool work.  That person can be your husband, or your mom, or the babysitter who is going to watch the kids while you are at work.  It takes more than one person, at least when the kids are small.

I've found I need to be super organized. I have to keep track of what all three of the kids are doing in school, since I do all the planning and recordkeeping.  I have a planner solely for my homeschool lessons; another one solely for work.  And I keep any appointments that need reminders on my phone.  Would it be easier to keep one with everything?  For someone it may be the case, but for me, I need to keep work and home separately.

The next one seems like a no brainer but supportive friends are one of the top 3 things I've needed.  My friends have cheered me on from day one.  Never questioned my ability to educate my children.  They know me well enough to know I will do the best for my kids.  There will be plenty of so called friends who will withdraw their friendship once the decision to homeschool is made public.  But the good ones? Those will cheer you on and keep you sane.  I'm blessed to have a group of women who, although none of them homeschools, they have been there, ready to hear me out and cheer me on.  

I've also been lucky enough to find a great homeschool group.  Families who are walking in this path, and who can offer support and tips on how to deal with situations unique to homeschool families.  I have gotten some great insight from them, lots of tried and true tips on how to do this; and I'm just glad I found them early enough in this journey.  

Aside from the people in your life, you are going to need great curricula.  Do you need a college degree to homeschool?  Not really.  But you do need great material to make the whole process easier.
I have researched tons of different curricula, to find the ones that not only teach the kids what they will need but it is also easy to use for all of us.  
That doesn't necessarily mean a "box" curriculum; or online one, or an accredited one.  It means the one that works for you, and your kids.  We use a mix of software, textbooks, and even e-books.  I didn't chose a box set; I pieced mine together from different manufacturers to better suit the learning style of my kids.  

Opinions in regards to homeschooling are like belly buttons.  Everyone has one and everyone thinks they need to share theirs with you.  You are going to need a thick skin if you choose to do this and still work full time.  People have openly doubted my husband's ability to carry on his part of the schooling while I'm at work.  To say I wasn't pleased would be an understatement.  There will be others who will question your ability to do your job because you homeschool.  Does anyone question the professionalism of homeschooling dads?  

Then there is the whole socialization stigma.  You know the one.  People want to know how will the kids be socialized now that they don't attend school.  I never sent my kids to  school so they could have a social life.  I did it to give them a good education, that was my priority.  The same is true for my decision to homeschool. And in case anyone wonders, they get plenty of social time.

Can you homeschool and still work full time?  Gosh I hope so because that's exactly what I'm doing.  During the day I'm an engineer and a manager; but the minute I get home; I'm a homeschooling mom.  We review lessons while I' m cooking, we sit at the table and talk about our days.  We get our planners ready for the next day; work on any science experiments that go with the daily lesson; and we go to bed knowing the next day will be filled with still more adventures.  

We make it work because we are committed to be successful.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  So we will take it one week at a time. 


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