How to juggle work and school schedules so everyone is on task and getting everything they need to done – parents included.
I’m a single mom with a full-time corporate job I’m able to do entirely online. I’m also homeschooling my two children. They don’t do online school, I’m their actual teacher. During the past six months, I’ve tried a lot of different schedules and have final found one that seems to be working for my family.
We are basically using a block schedule. Below I’ve listed each block of time and how it’s helping us to get everything done in a low-stress manner. Depending upon your families current situation, a similar schedule might work for you.
Early Morning Work Time – I typically wake up two or three hours before my kids. During those first hours of the day, I get as much uninterrupted work done as I can. I have a lot of work meetings in the morning. This is also a great time accomplish as much as possible first thing and also plan out the rest of my day.
Morning Independent School Work – My kids usually wake up around 9:00 or 9:30 and we try to always start our homeschool day by 10:00. For the first two hours or so, my kids do the majority of their independent assignments. I have set up a workspace for myself in the same room as my kids work spaces, so I am available to answer any questions they have. While keeping them on task, I’m also able to keep working myself. If your kids are doing online school, having a place where they can work near you for a limited part of the day might be a great way to oversee their learning while still staying productive yourself.
Mid-Day Group Work – We try to do all of our group assignments and projects right after lunch. I have been able to shift my work schedule around enough to accommodate a slightly longer lunch break. Most days, I spend about two hours actively teaching my sons. Because I have other parts of the day blocked out for uninterupted work, I feel comfortable taking this time to focus on teaching my kids instead of working. If you aren’t able to take an extended lunch hour, you could break your group work up so you are providing some instruction during your lunch hour and some additional time in the evening after you finish your work day. I could also see a married couple staggering their lunch hours so together they are able provide two back to back hours of hands on parenting in the middle of the day to either help with online school or teach a homeschool lesson.
Afternoon Free Time – My kids are given three or four free hours every afternoon to do whatever they want. Once we’ve finished our group school work for the day, I relocate to a quieter part of the house to put in several more uninterrupted hours of work. My kids can go outside, play a game together, watch TV, play video games, or do what ever else they want during these free afternoon hours. They like knowing there is a clear end to their school day to look forward to, and I enjoy knowing that I’ll have time to answer all the work emails that pile up while I’m distracted by helping my kids with their school work.
Homework Time – Yes, I give my homeschooled children homework – sometimes. On good days, we get everything we need done in the morning and early afternoon. By about 2:00, my kids are completely done with school and able to relax. But not all days are good days. Some days, my kids struggle to complete their independent work in the mornings. Maybe they woke up tired and grumpy, or maybe the material is too hard and they need more help and instruction from me. Either way, any independent work that hasn’t been completed by lunch is turned into homework. I then take however long it takes to work with my child on their homework in the evening after dinner. A leisurely afternoon and a good dinner, plus some further instruction from Mom, is usually all that’s needed and homework assignments are completed without any of the frustration my kids felt in the morning. On days when neither of my kids have homework, we often try to play a game or do some other activity together as a family during this time right after dinner.
Evening Work Time – The same way that sometimes my kids can’t get everything done during the day and need to do homework in the evening, someday I have more work to do too. I like to make up the extra hour that I took for lunch in the evening after I’ve finished helping my kids with their homework. Taking this extra hour at the end of the day enables me to tie up loose ends and start the next work day on a better foot.
Extended Bedtime – My sons are 11 and 13. If they had to be up early every morning, I’d probably try to get them in bed by 9:00 or 9:30. But I actually like it when they sleep in, because it gives me those much needed uninterrupted work hours in the morning. So I let them stay up later. They don’t have no bedtime, but I do allow them to stay up until 11:00. You probably don’t want to enable a second grader to stay up that late, but regardless of your child’s age, pushing their typical bedtime back by a few hours may give you a few extra hours in the morning.
Working full-time while also homeschooling does take a lot of schedule coordination. Getting kids to school, daycare, and extra curricular activities and also overseeing homework in the evenings takes just as much schedule coordination, if not more. If I’m being entirely honest, as a single parent to two middle school aged sons, my life has become far less hectic since we all shifted to working and learning at home.
What type of schedule does your family use? If you have any tips for juggling work and homeschool schedules, share them below.