Can You Homeschool If You Work Full-time?

I have received several emails and comments from parents that work full-time but still want to homeschool their children. They have asked for some tips on how they can effectively homeschool while still working full-time. So… here you go 101 Homeschool listeners:

Smiling kids


The following suggestions come from several sources, but also my own personal experience of trying to help my wife with the teaching load while I keep a full-time job and do eleventy-nine other things on the side. (eleventy-nine is my way of saying TONS of other things).

Warning before you begin:

Don’t become the bitter parent that is frustrated because you don’t have enough time for other things in your life. If you do this, you will eventually take it out (either consciously or sub-consciously) on homeschool and your child’s educational experience will suffer.


Tip #1: Get some system to organize your time

This is absolutely critical. Even for someone like me—totally disorganized, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, impulsive, and easily distracted—some system of organization is necessary.


My Suggestion:

I love the little index card system. Write down the five most important things that you need to get down after you are done working and put them in order of the most important. When you get home, get started on the most important item and move down the list. If you only get two of them finished… well, at least they were the two most important things.

You should consider reading the book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy. Click on the link below and get it for under $10. If you only use one of the 21 tips, the book will pay for itself in no time.


Here are some other quick reads that have great suggestions for getting more done in less time.


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and James Fallows

How to Have a 48-Hour Day by Don Aslett

Is There Life After Housework: A Revolutionary Approach to Cutting Your Cleaning Time 75% by Don Aslett


Tip #2: Be Flexible

Remember that you will accomplish more in homeschool that you are used to your children accomplishing in a large class setting. One on one time will always out-pace large groups.

Look for opportunities to teach in the every day experiences. Cleaning and cooking are powerful opportunities to teach your children life-lessons as well as academic principles.

Make sure that you use the weekends wisely. These are awesome times to go on field trips or do those school things that take time to set up like a science experiment.


My Suggestions & Great Resources:

For you next weekend homeschool field trip, take a photography trip. With digital cameras on our phones now and the free apps out there to edit our photos, this is an excellent way (and inexpensive) to let your children demonstrate their artistic side and it will help you see the world through their eyes. Send them out for a photography scavenger hunt. Click here for a suggested list of things for your children to photograph.

BetterPhoto Basics
by Jim Miotke is an excellent manual to get children started in the right direction.


Tip #3: Do Not Let Homeschool Take Over Your Life

You have to keep things in balance. That means there will be times when you need put homeschool on the shelf and go do something fun with your spouse or some friends. Go to a movie or out to dinner. Make sure that you are still getting “grown-up” time outside of work.

If you don’t, you will end up resenting the obligations associated with homeschool and your children will pick up on your feelings and they will start to resent it as well. They will dislike learning and see it as a chore instead of an AWESOME OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND WITH THEIR PARENTS.


Tip #4: Play to Your Children’s Strengths

I have one daughter that gets extremely moody when she is tired. We have learned with her that we should not attempt any kind of “thinking” project with her if it is getting late. On the other hand, we have two children that actually wake up as the night grows a little longer (I think they get that from their father).

If you have a child that does not do well late at night, don’t try to teach him algebra after 8:30. You are preparing for a family war! Instead, try doing a light snack right after work; then jump into a challenging subject and then eat dinner after you are done. Dinner can be the proverbial carrot that you dangle in front of your child as the reward for finishing her work. Unless you really are having carrots; in that case there is nothing “proverbial” about it. You really are dangling a carrot in front of your child.

Playing to your child’s strengths will be extremely important when you are trying to take advantage of every minute you get to spend with them. That will help you spend more time learning and less time butting heads.

Not Talking


Tip #5: Get Engaged in the Learning Process Yourself

I think the most critical thing you can do for your child and their own educational growth spurts is to get involved in your own learning pursuits. As a working parent, you exhaust so many resources during the day (mostly time and energy) that when you get home sitting in front of the TV seems very tempting. When you plop in front of a TV, however, and spend your “free” time watching the glowing screens of fantasies, it sends a message to your child that learning is something they will do only until they graduate and then they can just sit and watch TV all day.

On the other hand, if your children see you come home and jump into a great book or wrestle with a math problem (that has nothing to do with work), they will learn by example that education is a process we engage in for the rest of our lives. So grab a great book about the history of World War I or a biography on a great mathematician and enjoy the learning process along with your children.

Mother reading to daughters

Warning #2:

Please do not try to do all of these things every night. You will burn out and give up. Be wise. Do a couple of things here and there and find your “groove” so to speak and the homeschool journey that you thought was impossible will open up before your very eyes!


Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and reading the post. I appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from the 101 Homeschool Ideas Listeners.

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