Easy solutions to homeschool and work full time to give you complete flexibility
Looking for easy solutions to homeschool and work full time? Start here and create a block schedule, find clever childcare for younger children, use all-in-one free resources, use a big picture approach for home education, and find like-minded encouragement!
You deserve a night alone with a pizza and bottle of wine.
Just the fact that you are interested in homeschooling and working full time means you deserve all of that and more. Go ahead! Throw in a carton of ice cream.
I’m not kidding. Homeschooling and working is not for the faint of heart.
We are headed into a new school season where many parents will be homeschooling – while trying to hold down at-home jobs. I am not a homeschool mom, but I wanted to share some of my favorite homeschool resources that come from my homeschool mom friends!
Even though I do not currently homeschool my children, I am an expert in watching kids and working. I have been working full time and watching my kids (from ages newborn – 3) for three years now.
Every stage includes its struggles, and I’m here to tell you that it is possible. You might not get much sleep, and you might feel like you are surviving day by day. But you can do it!
Let’s jump in…
1. Create a block schedule
I am obsessed with block scheduling.
There are hundreds of resources created to help you find your custom block schedule. There are planners, posts, courses, eBooks, resources…block scheduling is a hot commodity.
But, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know right here. For free.
List the number of unique days you have
Instead of paying money for a block schedule planner, just start with a sheet of paper.
To begin, figure out how many kinds of daily schedules you are working with. If your M-W-F schedule is different than you T-TH schedule, you might have three types of daily schedules:
You might have only two daily schedules: weekdays vs. weekends. You might have 7 different schedules.
You will want to treat each of these daily schedules differently to maximize every minute. If you have 45 minutes for lunch on Mondays, but 1 hour on Thursdays, then you need to maximize on that extra 15 minutes on Thursdays.
On your piece of paper, list the hours broken down by 15 minute increments on the left, and at the top create separate columns for each day block you need.
Block out each daily period down to 15 increments
For Monday, your morning block might span from 8 am to 11 am. For Tuesday, your block might span from 8:30 am – 11:30 am. Just draw out each block before you do anything with them. It helps so much to visually see what you are working with.
I like using separate colors for each daily block. Here is an example:
- 7 am – 8 am: Breakfast Block
- 8 am – 11:30 am: Morning Block
- 11:30 am -1:00 pm: Lunch Block
- 1:00 pm – 3 pm: After lunch Block
- 3 pm – 5 pm: Afternoon Block
- 5 pm – 6 pm: Pre-Dinner Block
- 6 pm – 8 pm: Dinner and Kid Bed Block
- 8 pm – 10 pm: Post-Dinner Block
To find more time, add more blocks
This is the moment where you give up sleep. If you don’t have enough free time in a day, you will need to create new blocks.
The easiest block to add to your schedule is a 5 am – 7 am block. This ultra-morning block will give you uninterrupted kid-free time that you can dedicate to any work, assignment, chore you have.
Are you not a morning person? Cool, neither am I. I actually hate people that tell me to wake up at 5 am. But, I recently discovered how vital this morning block is for me, and I have started waking up early and it is life-changing.
Click here to get all my early-morning tips and learn what apps, processes, and schedule I use to get up at 5 am.
To see other types of homeschool schedules (loop schedules, yearly schedules), check out this great article.
Ready to organize your life? Let’s keep going…
2. Organize your priorities by timeframe and flexibility
I like categorizing everything I need to do by two things: time needed and kid involvement.
The goal here is to take every single activity and break it down by 1) how much time it takes and 2) if you can do it while multitasking something else.
For example, my work requires 8 hours a day. I can usually accomplish 2 hours of this while watching kids while they run around. I use this time to do manual tasks that don’t need much concentration. But, that leaves about 6 hours a day that I need uninterrupted attention.
I need to add these 6 hours to blocks where my kids are sleeping or occupied. Those remaining 2 hours can be added to blocks that overlap with kid activities that just need oversight – like coloring time, KiwiCo activity box time (read more how we use KiwiCo here), and free time in the play room.
If you are homeschooling, you need to break down each activity/lesson by how much time it takes and how much involvement it needs.
The same goes for household chores, personal time (like showering, getting ready), checking emails, spending time with your spouse. I like creating categories like: 15 minutes with kids, 15 minutes alone, 30 minutes with kids, 30 minutes alone, 1 hour with kids, 1 hour alone.
I list all my activities on small sticky notes, and move them around in my block schedule, until there is a realistic mix of activities per block.
If you are looking for more time to clean a bathroom – or listen to a podcast – add them to a block! If you can do each of those in 15 minutes while watching kids…add them to a block that can accommodate that.
See how I used the book The Fringe Hours to find my hidden pockets of time here!
Here is how I figure out my categories of activities:
Follow me on Instagram to see more Insta Stories like this.
If you are having trouble fitting actual homeschooling into your blocks, let me show you how my friend Amy creates a big picture approach to homeschooling!
3. Adopt a “Big Picture” approach to homeschooling
My friend Amy shares a Big Picture Homeschooling Plan and it is EXCELLENT if you need to add your lessons into a block plan.
Bookmark her article on Big Picture Homeschooling here for future use!
She outlines seven steps to creating a big picture outline for your homeschooling. Some of her steps include:
- List each subject/child and create a “how to finish” plan
- Estimate the time required for each
- Create weekly checklists
- Create a weekly time flow chart
If you are looking for ways to realistically create weekly checklists and time flow charts, definitely check out Amy’s post and tell her I said hi!
4. Create a flexible homeschool schedule
Now, once you know how many hours you have in a day – and what you need to do each day – how do you keep track?
The goal is to create EASY daily schedules for each person in your family so they know what needs to be done in each block. There are a million ways to do this, but let me tell you how my friend Megan does it!
Megan keeps a simple Excel tracker for each of her kids that is homeschooled. This is how Megan describes her Excel tracker:
“The kids have their own personalized school tracker, which is basically a list of the things they need to accomplish every day. We use Google Sheets to keep their tracker within their Google account and accessible to kids and parents alike. They go through the list, checking in with us as they complete assignments, and, once they finish all of their tasks, they are done for the day!”
She also includes excellent suggestions for independent curriculum ideas for kids.
Click here to see how Megan’s daily tracker works, and get your own free template!
5. Supplement with easy Homeschool resources
Every good mom uses Sesame Street.
Just kidding. But, not really.
We live in the 21st century that has apps and online resources. USE THEM!
Here are some awesome ones that we love:
I mentioned before that we love KiwiCo and have used it for years for both our kids. While it’s not an online resource, it’s an excellent monthly subscription that makes our lives so much better.
Every month my kids get an age-appropriate activity box that has 3-4 craft/activities that uses the STEM process (science, technology, engineering, math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child. They have awesome boxes that are age-appropriate for all ages.
This is the PERFECT resource when you just need some help with your kids. You can even get just ONE BOX (no subscription necessary.)
I also love keeping all the previous boxes so I have a supply of activities I can rotate year-round. I keep all her old activities in an organized plastic box and pull out one or two a week. (“Do you want to do your doctor kit or dinosaur matching game this week?”)
To see how I store and re-use our KiwiCo activities, see my Insta Stories here.
To try out KiwiCo for one month with a 15% discount, click here and use the code LEARN!
If you have older kids, their “Eureka” crates are awesome supplements for your science and math curriculum!
ABC Mouse is a full online curriculum for ages 2-8. It is truly a remarkable resource!
ABC Mouse is the #1 downloaded kids learning program for Quarter 1 of 2020. Parents love ABC Mouse!
“The Step-by-Step Learning Path presents the full ABCmouse.com curriculum in a carefully designed program of more than 850 lessons in ten levels. As your child completes each lesson, he or she is guided to the next one and is motivated to continue learning by ABCmouse.com’s Tickets and Rewards System.”
A subscription is SUPER CHEAP at $9.95/month, but you can try a month for free by clicking here!
Other Apps and Resources that I love:
My daughter is three, and she loves doing her app activities with her dad on his phone. She has a few that she lovingly dubs “the bear one” and “the girl one”.
These apps have paid options, but we just use the free versions which allow for one use a day. This is perfect for her age! (Also, it helps us regulate how much time is spent on the phone.)
A few of our favorites are: Duolingo ABC, Lingokids, and Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar. My daughter has learned so much from each of these, and they keep her mind stimulated. I totally recommend them for free options!
Does your kid need to get their energy out at home? We LOVE Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube! My daughter will do yoga for 30-60 minutes while I am able to clean a bathroom or put away lunch dishes. These are perfect for rainy days, and they teach her so much! She is pretty obsessed with teaching me all the poses.
Lastly, my secret weapon for naptime is the New Horizon Meditation Sleep Stories for kids. These stories for kids are calm, soothing, and tell stories of animals and mermaids to lull them to sleep. It slows my daughter down, and allows her to be calm and quiet – even if she doesn’t sleep. She calls her favorite story “the dolphin story”, and we listen to it very frequently!
6. Be clever with at-home childcare for younger kids
One of the hardest things about homeschooling and working from home is the range of ages of kids that you are taking care of. Chances are you have a baby or a young toddler that needs to be occupied just as much as your older kids.
One of my super skills is finding ways to occupy my younger kids while I work.
I’m kidding – it’s a means of survival.
My favorite tip is to use baby gates and baby fences (yes, they exist!) to your advantage. Every room near you needs a kid-friendly area that you can let your kid have free range in.
I begin my teaching my kids to play by themselves at an early age (by 6 months!). They learn to find toys, be creative, and entertain themselves. This is a lifesaver when I just need a minute to go to the bathroom. Let’s be real.
To see my full post about how to create clever play areas for your kids in your house, click here.
I also love finding new toys for each season. Once my babies hit four months, I set up the Jumparoo near my desk. To see all my other favorite toys and age-appropriate tips, see my post here.
7. Find like-minded encouragement
The biggest thing to know during this season is that you are not alone. Moms and dads across the country are working their tails off, teaching their kids, and doing it day after day.
My friend Jen shares insane wisdom and encouragement from hundreds of parents in her post about homeschooling and working full time here.
These are some stories she shares:
“The first thing that I had to do to incorporate homeschooling into our lives was to drop the public school schedule (9 am-2pm/Mon-Fri) mentality. It took a huge shift in the thought process to understand that learning can happen at any time. It also took me a while to understand that without filler work (lunch, recess, test prep, worksheets, etc.) that I can cover all core material in only a few hours.”
“I’m a big believer that if you live in my house and then you are part of our team. Which means you help clean up messes, cook meals and pick up. We use a chore system called Motivated Moms. I like it because I can print it off and stick it on the fridge. The kids like that they get to pick what they do.”
No matter where you are, remember that you are not alone. You are the best thing to happen to your kids, and they will remember this time with you fondly! It doesn’t really matter how many times you lose it while everyone is screaming for dinner. They will just remember you.
Please leave a comment to share how you homeschool and work full time! I’d love to include your tips and stories!
Find more work-at-home resources here:
How to make money as a stay at home mom and create your idea job
10 new tips for working remotely that really work
What it’s really like to be a work from home mom
Foolproof ways to combine your office and playroom
Use these tips to homeschool and work full time and be encouraged!
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