Homeschool-Work Balance

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I thought I would write some thoughts on being a homeschooling working mom.  I work part-time at a job that I enjoy very much in my field, public health.  I also have the support of my parents who are retired.  For them, taking care of Kate while I work gives them a sense of still contributing to society.  My dad is happy to pick her up from P.E. class and pick up my older daughter at the bus stop.  My mom is in charge of lunch and making sure she gets to work on her assignments.  I’m luckier than most working moms to have such good quality and affordable (free) childcare.  It’s the only reason I was able to explore this option of homeschooling Kate.

Working is not optional.  First, my family needs my income, even if it’s not a full-time salary.  Second, working gives me a break from my kid, who is delightful and sweet and wonderful, but who is also highly distractible, argumentative, moody, and some days is just so afraid of failing at school that she can be an emotional wreck.   She can get so frustrated with trying to learn that she will say things like, “I hate homeschool” or “I wanna go back to school”.  I know she doesn’t mean those things.  She’s frustrated.  It’s a big adjustment for her.   So getting a few hours away from her helps me come back more able to deal with the challenges of teaching and planning for a struggling learner.

Another great thing about working is being able to change gears.  I tend to burn out because I am all in; I go 150% on things and then tend to burn out.  Being able to go in to work and shift my attention to my professional life helps me maintain perspective.  I am reminded that Kate’s education is not my project, it’s hers.  My job is to give her structure, direction, guidance and support. She is a fully capable human being.  She must make choices, too.  While I’m working she’s working on her assignments.  We are both learning.

Sometimes I wish that Kate could be around kids more than one day a week, but that’s the best I can do right now.  That’s another way that work is good for us.  It gives me some boundaries.  I know that I have just so many hours, which forces me to prioritize.  Clearly, if being more social was a higher priority we would do more.  I have to make the hours and minutes together count and I have to say “no” to what does not contribute to us reaching our most important goals.

We are only one month in to our school year.  So far I’d have to say that homeschooling and work are two things that I enjoy very much.  Yes, it’s work.  Together it makes for a full-time and a part-time job, when you factor in all the hours I spend clipping coupons, cooking, cleaning, making lists, paying bills, etc.  I think it makes a difference who you are working for and with, of course.  Having nice, professional co-workers and working for a great organization is great.  Having support from my husband and parents makes the difference.  I’m thankful for having the chance to use so many of my gifts and skills.  And that is what I hope both my daughters discover about themselves in the process of their education, all they have to offer the world.

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How to make an apple pie…

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Last week we “rowed” our first book.  The term rowing refers to doing a literary unit from the Five in a Row curriculum.  The way it works is you pick a great book from the list of books that they have created literary units,  read it each day aloud, and then the student participates in different learning activities based on the book.  The curriculum gives you great ideas on how to take the themes and apply them to Language Arts, Science, Math, etc., but it’s very flexible and thanks to Pinterest I had lots of great activities available free to download.  I was very easily able to integrate Five in a Row to our homeschool.

Our first book was How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  It was great to see Kate getting involved and forgetting that it’s “school” for a while. We used the book to teach geography, math and science.  We added the books How do Apples Grow, for our science focus.  And of course, we made an apple pie.  We were able to share this amazing dessert with guests who we already had planned to come over for dinner on Saturday.  Everyone enjoyed the pie and learning about all we learned about apples and world geography.    All in all it was a great week, Kate!

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