How to work and homeschool - Pine Cones and Primers
homeschool tips

How to Work and Homeschool – from Real Moms

Children need six hours of lessons, three hours in nature, and extra-curriculars every day.

Ok, I lied.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be high maintenance! Children can still get a quality education even without a full-time stay at home parent.

Homeschooling is Different

At 12, I carried a kitchen timer with me to school. Every time we changed classrooms, a student was disruptive, or time was otherwise not spent on school work, it went on the timer.

I’d come home and show my mom that we’d wasted 2 hours and 10 minutes that day. I was highly efficient as a kid.

What’s the point?

A lot of time at public and private school is not spent doing school. Study hall, lunch time, classroom disruptions, bathroom breaks, busywork to fill time… they all add up.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

A typical homeschool day can be done in 1-4 hours, depending on the child’s age. This leaves plenty of time for self-learning or extra-curricular activities later (or earlier) in the day.

How to Work and Homeschool

#1 Roll With It

School doesn’t have to follow a rigid schedule. Instead of working on a schedule, I use time blocks. This way if there are interruptions I don’t feel like the whole day unraveled.

Instead of saying at 9 am we will have breakfast, then lessons from 9:30-11:30, I know that after breakfast ends we’ll spend 2 hours on school.

If breakfast is late that day or the baby has a diaper blowout and needs attention, I don’t panic.

#2 Don’t be Afraid of Commitment

Make homeschooling a priority.

If we’re going to commit, it’s best to do it fully. Partial efforts get partial results. That’s not to say somedays things won’t go according to plan (that will definitely happen!). However, if homeschooling isn’t a priority, it’s easy for us to push it aside in the business of the day.

#3 Have a Routine

Having routines is important. With routines kids know what to expect and it provides structure to the day. Otherwise it’s too easy to push things off and lounge around in our Pjs.

Here’s an example of my morning routine.

  • I wake up an hour before the kids to plan out the day and have some reflection/devotion time.
  • After waking up, my son does his chores while I makes breakfast. This habit training time teaches him teamwork and responsibility.
  • Everyone sits down for a family breakfast while we listen to our composer or an audiobook.

I like to have a few routines as anchors throughout the day. Our family has morning, lunch, supper, and bedtime routines.

#4 Educate Yourself

“I’m not raising children, I’m raising adults.” – my Mom

I heard that phrase a lot as a child. The goal of raising children is to prepare them to enter the world, not do everything for them.

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.” – Charlotte Mason

This doesn’t mean we hand our child a workbook and call it a day. We introduce them to great ideas and provide learning opportunities. The rest though is ultimately up to them.

As children get older, the development of self-education means we as educators can take more of a supervising role. That’s not to say we have no role in guiding our children’s education, but we bear less of the burden.

#5 Love to Learn

Do you remember that kid in class who never really participated? The guy who would fill in the worksheet and memorize answers for a test, but didn’t really care?

“Of all the joyous motives of school life, the love of knowledge is the only abiding one; the only one which determines the scale, so to speak, upon which the person will hereafter live.” – Charlotte Mason

We must teach our children how to learn, not just what to learn. This skill will benefit them the rest of their lives in whatever pursuit they choose.

#6 Let the Material do the Teaching

“The function of a teacher is to design learning experiences, not principally to convey information.” – Charlotte Mason

Unlike some teaching methods, our job isn’t to stuff facts into their brains. We present them with great ideas and let those ideas and experiences take hold.

#7 Scheduling the School Day for Success

This depends on what other obligations you have going on. If you work full time or part time. If you work from home or outside of the home. Nights or day shift.

The nice thing about homeschooling is its flexible. Not everyday has to look the same. Here are a few real life examples of moms who make homeschooling and careers work together. Every situation is different, but this should give you some ideas.


How Real Moms Work and Homeschool

Some parents homeschool year round so they only need to do 3-4 days a week. Some homeschool on weekends, or in the evenings. These are real life stories from actual working homeschool moms I know, but the names have been changed to protect privacy.

Stephanie and her husband work full time outside of the home at their local family business. She takes every Friday off so her kids can go to the local homeschool co-op. During the week the kids tag along to the office where they have a school room setup.

Different family members, including their Aunt and Uncle and both grandparents (former teachers) teach weekly classes to the kids. The whole family works together to make this happen.

Tammy works full time at her local post office, so she ends each day by 4:00 pm. Her boys stay with grandma during the day, and Tammy does their lessons with them when she gets home. They’re done by suppertime at 7:00.

Lydia works from home doing health coaching. With five kids all under 8, life is full, but she still makes it work! Her husband, a pastor, sometimes watches the kids while she meets with clients. Other times they meet at the kitchen table or over the phone while the kids play in the next room.

It’s not uncommon for her to nurse the baby while teaching a school lesson or on the phone with a client.

Allison works four days a week from home working online. Her kids are past the baby/toddler stage and are pretty good with playing together while mom works. She gets up early to get some office time in, and then after lunch they do school together.

Somedays instead of typical lessons they’ll do a field trip or other educational activity outside the home.

How I Make it Work

I work both from home as a writer and recipe developer, and in home healthcare outside the home. On the days I’m working with hospice patients my husband is home with the kids and takes care of their lessons that day.

If I have a half day I can homeschool before or after I’m with that client. Since I’m self-employed my schedule is always in flux. The beauty of homeschooling is we don’t have to do school at the exact same time every day!

On days I work from home we’ll have family breakfast and do school a few hours in the morning. After lunch my boys play with educational toys, like Legos or tinker toys, read books, paint and draw. I’m in the office for a few hours if they need me. Then at bedtime I’ll read them a living book before tucking them in.


Support is key. For some this means a family member pitches in caring for the kids. A babysitter, nanny or mother’s aid are other options. I have a young girl come in once a week to clean and help me keep my sanity!

We don’t need 10 hours a day to give our children a quality education. It takes some creativity, but it is possible to work and homeschool!

How to work and homeschool - Pine Cones and Primers

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Mama to two littles. Former education major, private tutor, and nanny. Barefoot book addict.