Homeschooling is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to public schooling. Between 1999 and 2007 (the most recent year for which data is available), the number of homeschooled children nearly doubled, from 850,000 to 1.5 million students. Many parents opt to homeschool because they’re dissatisfied with public-school offerings due to differing values, educational standards, or safety concerns.
Whatever your reason, it can be hard to teach your kids and make a living at the same time. Here are four strategies for running a business while homeschooling.
- Schedule kids’ activities. Carefully plan each day’s activities for your children and stick to a regular routine. If you take a lesson-based approach to homeschooling, designate a block of time for structured self-guided lessons: Molly Aley of Mom Advice gives her children a three-hour window each day to focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic. Use this quiet study period to handle business-related tasks.
- Participate in the homeschooling community. Seek out other homeschoolers in your area who are interested in collaborating on group lessons and outings, such as visits to national parks. In some cases, you’ll be able to leave your kids with another adult in charge — and stay home to take care of business. When you do go along on a trip, take advantage of any down time by responding to client emails or phone calls while your children are busy learning.
- Set up a good support system. If your spouse is also self-employed, or if you run a business together, organize “shifts” so that each of you have uninterrupted time at work. Focus on compromise: Can your partner give you a couple of hours in the morning to work (while he or she serves breakfast and gets the children dressed) before you start your school session? If a partner is unavailable, ask relatives or close friends for help. Consider hiring a tutor for a few hours a week to support the kids’ education and give you time to work.
- Bring your kids to work with you. Children who see their parents as entrepreneurs are more likely than others to want to start a business of their own. By teaching your children about your company — and how each task (holding a business meeting, designing a brochure, etc.) contributes to your overall goals — you may inspire them to launch their own successful enterprise someday.