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5 Ways To Balance Homeschool And Work Shifts

By July 26, 2023One Comment

More and more homeschool families are enjoying the freedom to educate their children whenever and wherever, especially if one or more of the parents are on unusual work shifts.

If you’re one of these families, a public-school-type morning routine won’t work for you. (See more ways to create the best homeschool morning routine for your family.)

Here are some creative ways that our homeschool community has found helpful in balancing homeschool and first, second or even third work shifts:

Adjust to the main breadwinner’s schedule.

This may sting a bit, especially if you used to homeschool in the mornings before work made that impossible. But moving homeschool ahead an hour or so (or more) can have many benefits.

“We started school today after lunch so we can work around [my husband’s] schedule,” one mom writes. “A little harder since we have always been done with school by lunchtime. But this is our new normal. This is why we like homeschooling to fit school around our family.”

One mom also moved homeschooling to the afternoon when her husband worked second shift. Instead of getting up early, they started moving closer to 10-11 a.m. and ate lunch together before dad left for work.

“I did school work while he was gone, fixed them lots of “breakfast” dinners (still a favorite) and put them to bed at 10:30,” she wrote. “This is why we homeschool!”

work and homeschool

Consider times to play vs. times to work and learn.

Several moms have experienced frustration when a change in work schedule actually brought dad home earlier than usual – because their kids thought that meant an earlier playtime!

“I can’t run as tight of a ship school- and chore-wise, with my husband around,” she wrote. “Just something to consider.”

Instead of forcing children to work during those times (which may or may not succeed), try moving the schedule pieces around. Maybe they can play with dad when he’s home, but homeschool when he’s gone or asleep.

So long as the work gets done, who’s complaining?

Experiment with subject placement.

The way in which you tackle school subjects can also change with work shifts. Several parents recommend keeping the light, or easy, work for the times when your kids are either finishing their school day or learning during the time when the working parent is away.

(See other tips from working homeschool parents in this blog post.)

One mom suggested doing reading, writing and math while her working husband slept in the morning. Once he was awake, she would “include him in field trips and probably science and other big messy/time-consuming stuff.”

balance work and homeschool

Consider different places where you can homeschool.

If needed, try moving around the house (or outside) for space and time to sleep.

One homeschool family encountered difficulties when the husband, who worked odd hours, tried to sleep in the room next to the kids’ schoolroom! The noise level was too much for him.

Sometimes the weather will allow for children to do school outside, or dad can try wearing noise-reducing headphones for a quick nap. If your house is big enough, try adding a room or two between schoolroom and bedroom for a buffer.

Lighten up on household duty.

At the end of the day, your kids appreciate quality and quantity time over a perfectly clean and spotless house. The dishes can always wait a few more hours.

If one of the parents is away for most of the time that the children are awake, make sure their limited time together is spent doing something fun!

One mom made a point to emphasize this to another homeschooler who was struggling with her husband’s new work schedule.

She suggested not to focus on “so much of the daily household duty that it eats up his time away from the kids. It definitely would need restraint to use the time wisely, but it would beat barely making bedtime or only getting a few minutes everyday (with Dad).”

We have updated this blog post, originally published in October 2015, for timeliness and detail.

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Shanxi Omoniyi

Shanxi Omoniyi (@ShanxiO on Twitter) is MPE's online content director. A homeschool alumna, Shanxi graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in journalism and English. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and nonprofits share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.

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