Written by contributor Hillary Boucher
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Our day-to-day homeschooling changes through the year due to the fact that my husband runs a seasonal business and I work full-time from home.
I am going to highlight a day in the life from this past fall. It was one of our busiest times of the year in terms of work and I’d like to add perspective for other families who may be wondering if homeschooling is possible with working parents.
In our experience it is possible to work and homeschool if you have flexibility in your job. It takes extra planning, discipline and coordination and can be challenging.
7am - Dad heads out to work. He tries to get an early start because he needs to relieve the nanny midday.
8am - I wake with the kids, help them get them dressed and serve them a simple breakfast before the nanny arrives. There’s added pressure to make sure the house is picked up (especially the bathroom & kitchen) since someone comes into our home to care for the kids.
9am - Nanny arrives and I brief her on the day — how everyone is feeling and if, when and where my eldest son needs a ride to a class or play date. He may be heading for a full day outdoor education program especially for homeschoolers, a theater class, piano lesson or play date with one of his homeschooled buddies.
We keep a binder for emergency and day-to-day info and homeschooling themes and skill building ideas for our nanny. It’s her job to not only keep the kids safe, but to help reinforce their learning continuum while they play.
During the hiring process I stressed our homeschooling and family philosophies. I encouraged her to delve into interest based projects and laid out our specific needs.
1pm – I head upstairs to the relieve the nanny. The kids have already had lunch with her so I snuggle up on the couch for story time while we wait for Dad to come home. Twice a week I bring my five-year-old to his speech therapy session.
2pm - Dad comes home and relieves me. I grab a quick lunch and take it back to my office to eat while I work. Not ideal, but I’m so grateful for the flexibility that allows me to spend time with my kids *and* work that I see it as a blessing.
Dad sets the kids up with a video so he can shower, make a few phone calls and transition from work to home.
2:30pm - Dad and the kids head out into the world. It may be the library, the Science Center or just out for a bike ride. I can see them leave out my office window and we all enthusiastically wave and blow kisses.
Once again I find myself thankful to be able to dip into their daily routine, even if in a small way. My husband will send me a video or picture of what they are doing and I look forward to these updates.
5pm- I finish up work and head upstairs. A simple dinner has usually been started by Dad. Dinner is our *biggest* challenge during our busy season. We get take out from a local taqueria on Monday nights and focus on very simple meals. We save more elaborate meals for the weekend.
6pm- Dad cleans up the kitchen and I sit down at the table with my eight-year-old. This is our most formal part of homeschooling. We work through our language arts (McRuffy) and math (Life of Fred) curriculum. The concepts we’re tackling are communicated to both Dad and the nanny so that they are reinforced throughout the day through games and play.
7:30 Get ready for bed. I head upstairs with the kids and read chapter books out loud while the two younger kids fall asleep. My son comes back down with me after the kids go to bed and he either plays quietly at his desk while we do some work or we play games together — depends on the night.
9pm My son goes to bed. My husband and I pick up the house in preparation for tomorrow and go over end of day items (budget, planning the next day, etc.). We usually end the evening by catching up on a favorite show on Hulu.
Our weekends look more like what I imagine a traditional homeschool day to be. Dad works on Saturday to make up for his shorter work days during the week and I stick to our after dinner routine of math and language arts and tackle bigger projects.
For example, one Saturday we built a paper mache volcano and during that following week volcanoes were the learning theme. The following weekend we did video interviews of my son explaining how it all worked and then we set it off much to everyone’s excitement.
We receive monthly science kits in the mail from the Young Scientists Club and the weekend is the ideal time to dig into these activities.
It took us a lot of planning, discipline and creativity to have the fall go as smoothly as it did and we learned a lot to prepare for next year’s busy season.
Some days we felt really proud and happy with the way everything was going and other days it felt overwhelming.
We homeschool on a year-to-year, child-to-child basis and sometimes I wonder if this is sustainable long term, but I try not to worry about that too much.
Instead, I do my best to focus on what’s working right now and feeling grateful for our flexible jobs and the time spent living and learning together.
A look back at Hillary’s homeschool days:
Do you work and homeschool? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts, strategies, and experiences on the topic.