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Summary:

We’ve covered strategies for working with kids in the office several times. In our household, though, there’s an additional challenge: our kids are not only in and out of the home office all day, they’re also homeschooled. On one level, having a home-based school is just […]

We’ve covered strategies for working with kids in the office several times. In our household, though, there’s an additional challenge: our kids are not only in and out of the home office all day, they’re also homeschooled.

On one level, having a home-based school is just a natural extension of having a home-based job: it’s one more way to bring freedom and flexibility to your own life, and to make your own decisions. But on another level, it’s a tough balancing act: not only do you have to strike an appropriate work-life balance, but you also have to balance making money against educating your kids. Here are five ways that we cope with these issues.

1. Have a daily structure: Our kids are at an age where they need supervision for much of their schoolwork, though they also do work on their own. We keep the parental-supervised work to a couple of fixed-time blocks each day. Not only does this let the kids (and parents!) know what to expect, it also makes it easier to block out time for work clients: they know that I’m not generally available between 7 and 9:30 AM, for example. This saves hassles and missed phone calls all around.

2. Involve both parents: I think that’s generally a good idea for homeschoolers, though I recognize that it can be tough. In our case, we have two work-at-home parents, so we can divide the teaching duties and stagger hours so that only one parent is tied up with schoolwork at any given time. That also means that it’s possible to be more flexible on client-contact hours: if one of my customers has something really important come up during what are normally my blackout hours, I can take the call and hand the schoolwork off to the other teacher in the house.

3. Bring the classroom into the office: Our kids are growing up in a computerized household, and it’s natural for them to want to know what mom and dad are doing. So we use plenty of online resources for our classes, and use the nice monitors on the work computer when we do so. Miro is a great little application for finding and automatically downloading videos on any topic; we use it to find our daily dose of animal video for a child studying biology and ecology. One tip: turn off your IM notifications when using the office computer for schoolwork, as any reading child will get distracted.

4. Be prepared to take days off: This works in both directions. If I’ve got a critical meeting or a pressing deadline, we can always declare a “no school” day: the kids love it, and they get plenty of instructional time even with the occasional day off. Or, if we want to take a field trip to the local museum, it’s ok to have a “no work” day (using Grand Central means I’m still transparently available to clients on the phone if it comes to that). If you’re enjoying homeschooling and home working for the flexibility, it’s silly to never make use of it.

Homeschooling is a big decision – but then, so is working at home. We do the things that work for us, and if our experience helps others, great! But like most things in raising kids: take what works for you and leave the rest. Just know that it’s possible to run life this way, even if it is a challenge.

By Mike Gunderloy

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  1. I have the same situation. I work from home out of an upstairs home office, my wife and the kids are mostly in the basement (when they are home) homeschooling. If My wife and I end up chatting via IM during the day more than talking face to face, even though we are both home.

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  2. I homeschool and work from home as well. Great tips in this article. Finding the balance between structure and staying flexible enough to handle whatever comes up is hard…but it’s worth it.

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  3. Homeschooling/work-at-home family here, too. Since I’m the freelancer and my husband is now home full-time, he does the bulk of the learning-type activities and we take turns shuttling the kids off to activities. My son thinks it’s funny that our family is totally off the office/school grid — that no one has to leave at 9am every morning. I think it’s pretty great, too.

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  4. Although I don’t have any kids yet, I am looking into freelancing and starting some web development and writing work from home. I always thought I would home school once I had kids, but I never quite thought about the mechanics of the day to day. Thanks for posting this, it really helped me to visualize what to aim for when designing my lifestyle and having kids. :)

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  5. Great to see other Home Office/Homeschool families out there. We have four kids between the ages of 6 months and 9 years. I handle all of the business and my wife handles about 95% of the schooling. I have a separate 6×9 space attached to the house, without it I don’t think it would work. Biggest benefit for us is time together and being able to hit attractions when others are at school and work.

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  6. Excellent tips. Thanks for sharing.

    We’ve HS’d our three kids for the last six years.

    I’m learning along with the kids as we both went to the government (public) schools.

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  7. I’m homeschooling my 10-year-old this year and have been working as a remote professional for over 8 years. It simply makes sense.

    This is a great blog, and addresses many of the challenges for those just beginning. I keep my daughter right beside me (her desk is beside my own) and she works on her assignments while I meet with clients online and by phone. When I’m not with a client she can ask questions or review her work with me.

    She’s working more hours than her contemporaries, but I see a daily improvement in her education, knowledge and enjoyment of learning and believe that it is far superior to public school education.

    The think that bothers me most is that California’s recent homeschooling ruling may impact us all!

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  8. Sign the Petition to Depublish the Opinion RE: California Outlaws Home Schooling

    On February 28, 2008, three judges from the California Court of Appeals handed down a very controversial decision regarding a case involving a home school family. Their opinion holds that home schooling is not a legal option in California.

    Vision America Action agrees with the Home School Legal Defense Association who believes that the best course of action is to petition the California Supreme Court to “depublish” the opinion–which means that it can only be applied to the specific family which the court ruling addressed and not applied to other home schooling families in California.

    Please click the link to sign the petition. (https://www2.hslda.org/Registrations/DepublishingCaliforniaCourtDecision/)

    California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated he will intervene if a court ruling against homeschoolers is not overturned. Some home schooling parents say they’ll leave the state, rather than give up their rights to educate their children. Please join us in defending this basic parental right.

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  9. The CA ruling is not that big of a deal. HS’ing as most of us knows it has never been legal in CA. CA HS’ers have to register as private schools to “homeschool” legally. The family at the center of the CA case has a long history of alleged child abuse, and was keeping the kids at home outside the bounds of the law. The Long children were enrolled in a private Christian umbrella school but were being taught at home. That is a clear violation of law in CA, even if it is one that hasn’t been enforced strictly in the past. The scare tactics by HSLDA are politics and an attempt to boost membership renewals. Nothing has changed in CA, all the usual laws still apply.

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  10. Well said. This way you can achieve the ultimate freedom. Especially I love to travel and homeschooling and home office (virtual office) has helped me to travel with my family.

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