A Mom & Dad Homeschool Team

Written by contributor Heather Bruggeman of beauty that moves

The last few months have been wild and crazy for our family. We’re selling one house and moved to another during the height of the holiday season, my work has picked up almost overnight to a beyond full time pace, my father is in the fight of his life health-wise and he happens to be (sort of stuck) more than 1,800 miles from his home. Oh yeah, and we homeschool.

I nodded all the way through Hillary’s post last week about collaborative homeschooling, as this is the very topic I was hoping to write about this month too. It’s really all I could share with you because without it, I don’t think we’d have a homeschool right now!

Feeling the shock and stress of my father’s illness combined with a wonderful but high volume of work, homeschool, and domestic responsibilities, I wanted to throw in all towels. Things seemed to blow up overnight! Life was nothing like this just a few months ago, but that’s how it goes and we need to roll with it.

On all fronts it was clear that these new time constraints weren’t going away anytime soon, be it the worried heart or the very full work calendar. I  looked at my husband one day about six weeks ago and basically said “I can’t do it anymore!” Without taking a single breath he replied, “Okay, I’m in. I’ll take over everything you don’t want or have time to do. Give me a list.”

And just like that, our mom and dad homeschool team was born.

This is what we do for our kids, right? For our spouses too? We pitch in, pick each other up when needed.  Life hands us hectic seasons and heartache and sometimes more questions than answers. Often these trials and busy moments can be used as life-learning tools (always happy to blur the line between “school” and “life learning”).

But ultimately, a commitment was made by us to take on the responsibility of educating our daughter, which means we always have to be ready with a Plan B when life unexpectedly changes course.

My husband and I are both self-employed so our schedules are ultimately in our own hands. That may sound nice and easy on the surface but it takes incredible discipline to be self-employed and the work can sometimes feel never ending.

Splitting the homeschool responsibilities helps involve the entire family and plays to the strengths of each member of the team. When implemented correctly, everyone benefits. Easily said, but what is the best way to do it?

The solution is planning and teamwork.

1. Communicate schedule needs well in advance.

We both agree the one constant is our daughter’s routine. We commit to this because it best suits her which is one of our reasons for homeschooling in the first place.  She needs to know when the school day begins and ends so she can plan accordingly. We also like to start later so the school day is extended into the afternoon, eliminating the midday boredom we found when starting very early in the day.

Some adult work responsibilities cannot be moved or delegated, and they may fall during the math lesson. If you can, let your partner know in advance and both prepare so the day is seamless for the kid(s). You want to avoid disruption to the school day and maintain that schedule.

There will be moments of no flexibility for either parent and as a last resort our daughter needs to be self-sufficient. This happens about twice a month, ideal it is not, but we make it work.

2. Defined duties and responsibilities.

This means knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Decide who works best with the student.  Don’t be upset if it is not you, and understand this does not exclude you from the process. On the contrary, you have other things to do.

Who is better organized? They should handle the details of record keeping, curriculum ordering, supplies, schedules, etc.  They will also keep the main educator from coming up with too many  “creative” assignments and generally keeps plans on track, if that is how you like it.

3. Effort from all to pick up the slack as necessary.

We each have our strengths, but neither parent can have tunnel vision. One may teach math better than the other, but be prepared to pick up on Shakespeare once in a while. Or track the day’s progress, update the record keeping, etc. Both parents should know how to do everything with some capability, just in case.

Having a system in place that each person can use improves the chances of this working out. Central location of books and supplies reduces confusion and search time for materials.

One thing we do is maintain a private blog that serves as our homeschool journal. I record my thoughts by keystroke more quickly than by pen so this works for me. It’s also a great way to add a daily photo or two, a short video of Emily giving a powerpoint presentation or speech. We can each log in to the journal whenever, and from wherever (via phone) to add to the days log.

Currently we follow a routine where my husband takes the homeschool lead three days a week and I pick up the remaining two. This is so helpful to my work day, and his work follows a somewhat seasonal rhythm in which he can find more down time and flexibility right now. In the summer he will be much busier and I will be more available.

Though if things need to change one way or the other before then, we will make that work too. We’re all in this together and have one common family goal in mind – keeping everyone as happy, supported, thriving, and together as possible.

Do you homeschool with a partner? How do you share the tasks of the day? What are some tools you use to stay in communication with one another?

About Heather

Heather follows the mantra “a life that is led simply and deliberately is a life fulfilled.” She is a dedicated yoga teacher, artist, holistic health coach, mother and wife. Heather’s blog Beauty That Moves is enjoyed by readers for its kind honesty, shared beauty, and simple guidance.

Comments

  1. I was so happy to read this this morning! Yes! To the challenges, to the solutions, and to the commitment to figuring out whatever comes next.

    Incidentally, it was me who had to realize I wasn’t the best with kids. It was a tough pill to swallow when so many of my sons frustrations disappeared with my husband working with him.

    I absolutely love the journal idea. We’d like to be better at that and I’d never thought of setting up a private blog.

    Thanks so much for sharing Heather! It’s nice to hear from families in similar situations.

    • i had to realize it too hillary… my guy is an outstanding educator. just yesterday he was constructively helping her through something and i realized if i had attempted the same, feelings would have been hurt and she would have felt deflated. my relationship with my daughter is all about emotion and sentiment… his with her is all about FUN and sentiment…

      the private blog is super easy, i just use blogger (free) and a clean white page. i really love that aside from ‘logging’ the days assignments, i can pop up pictures of current projects, outings, etc. at the end of the year it can get turned into blurb book for permanent records.
      heather’s latest post: 29 :: February

  2. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never thought of this aspect of homeschooling. My husband is very busy and it all falls on me, but I’m thankful that I can be here. It’s great to hear that other families can partner together to get the job done.
    Heidi’s latest post: Abeka High School

  3. Such great advice. We aren’t officially homeschooling yet as my oldest is only four, but I am still gathering all the ideas. I was homeschooled and my parents did collaborate quite a bit and it helped as a child to have some variety!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Finding New Friends

  4. Sorry about your dad, Heather. These past two weeks have felt like a whirlwind that I didn’t see coming – but I’m sure it’ll all ease up. My Dad had surgery and things didn’t go so well so we went to the city to see him before a second surgery, took my son to orthodontist (also in city), I had to have another cortisone shot (yup, also in the city), began a detox which I wanted but also had some little “side-issues” and have been in great pain. We also happen to be in probably the two busiest weeks of basketball season, leading into zones, so my husband is gone alot. Not a sob story, though. I have friends I called on at my breaking point and my husband does what he can to help. And finally, I have realized that I need to do a better job, at this time, of helping my kids be more aware of how they can help and of holding them more accountable (as in not just doing certain things for them b/c it is easier, which I didn’t realize before that I did often).

    I am excited for you, though, for the explosion of work and how that is all taking off.

    Finally, your point about communication is critical in our home. We have a central calendar for my husband to write down any of his away-dates/commitments on and we stay in touch each day through email. We like to get groceries together on the weekend and use that time for catch-up and discussion of events coming up. My son facebooks or texts me (he goes to school this year) most days with any questions/updates/schedule changes and I love staying in touch with him too.
    Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: Gratitude

  5. Thanks for sharing! As we plan (long-term) for me to be home and partner with my wife in homeschooling, this gives us some great points to consider. I really like the private blog idea. Right now my wife is using Goggle Docs to journal activities for our four boys. That is okay, but does not provide the chronology breakdown that we both would like.
    Hank Osborne’s latest post: God’s Design Science Series – Review

  6. Great post! My husband works nights as a deputy and his schedule is ridiculous, but when he’s able to be home, he’s completely hands on with our schooling. How awesome to have a spouse like that, isn’t it? It’s a “family decision” when you homeschool, and it is never more apparent than when one family member is struggling with something and the other(s) picks up the slack. Thanks for all the suggestions, as well. :)
    Amy’s latest post: go-go-go-cart

  7. This is a great topic! I’m a WAH mama at the moment with two little ones (2.5 and 5) but the longer-term plan is for my husband and I to split both the income and the homeschooling responsibilities. I don’t know anyone doing this in my local community so I look forward to reading more about how it is working for your family! I’m a plan ahead kind of girl. :)
    Because my husband’s work schedule is a bit erratic and my girls do best with a consistent schedule, we are already working hard on communication and smooth hand-offs. I think your point about clearly defining who is in charge of what is spot on!
    I’m sorry to hear about your father….sending positive thoughts for his recovery!
    Kelly’s latest post: Our Rhythm

  8. I really love this kind of topic it has a lot of great idea..Thanks for sharing this to us..
    Francine’s latest post: The Collector

  9. Love this, Heather! Kyle and I share the homeschool workload as well, along with everything else in life—we both work, cook, and clean, so really, homeschooling is a natural extension of us sharing life together. It’s one of our primary reasons for doing so, actually.

    Practically-speaking, we keep our ongoing homeschooling plan on Todoist, which also has an iPhone app. This way, we always know what’s on the docket for school, so we can pinch hit for one another. For instance, I was speaking out of town last week—Kyle knew exactly what the lesson plan was for grammar, which is normally what I teach. He could just open up the book and take over.

    Thanks for sharing this! Good words.
    Tsh’s latest post: 3 benefits of a mentor (and how to get one)

  10. We’re not homeschooling yet but I like the idea of a private blog and Todoist that Tsh linked to. Thanks for the ideas.
    Steph’s latest post: Little Things

  11. During the years that we homeschooled 3 children and had a very busy family business, hubby and I had to learn to work together and share the load.
    I love the idea of a private blog as a record! And Tsh’s Todolist! Makes we wish I still had kids at home to homeschool! So many great tools available now…
    Bernice @ Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: I can do anything I want, if only I knew what that was

  12. I actually team teach with my mother, who homeschooled me. My daughter is battling a serious illness so it is a weight off my shoulders to not have to carry the entire schoolwork load. I teach three days a week while my mother does the other two and we split subjects according to who does what best.

  13. Just this week, my husband and I had a long chat about an opportunity that was dropped in our laps for him to go from two jobs to one job (with overtime shifts). We don’t know how long this window will last but have decided to take it month by month, and in it he is going to take over homeschooling 2 days a week to free up time for me to pursue a few career goals and dreams that I have put on hold for years, and wouldn’t you know it within days of making this decision I have seen 3 articles on families who share homeschooling responsibilities.
    Victoria’s latest post: Thankful for My Running Buddies

  14. I loved your article. My husband and I became more of a team as a result of a life challenge as well.
    educator’s latest post: Value Pack sale, click HERE.

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