Articles & Guides
What can we help you find?

Can you homeschool while working full time? Here’s how parents make it work

Yes, homeschooling and working full-time is possible. These parents and experts share how to get both jobs done.

Can you homeschool while working full time? Here’s how parents make it work

The United States has experienced a sharp uptick in the number of families that homeschool. A 2023 segment by PBS NewsHour reports that 1.2 million students have left public schools since 2020 — a significant number. While the homeschooling community in the U.S. has been composed of a small percentage of students overall for generations, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of children who are homeschooled doubled between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.

The face of homeschooling has begun to change, as well. Traditionally a practice reserved for white middle-class families, the percentage of Black families who homeschool has risen at a faster rate than any other category of homeschooler. All of these shifts within the homeschooling community mean that the typical parent who is teaching at home has also shifted.

Many households are comprised of adults with full-time jobs who also are responsible for teaching their children. While there aren’t hard statistics yet on just how many adults are homeschooling and working full time, the rise in homeschooling means that many parents are. Here’s how they make it work and their best tips for other parents juggling homeschool duties with a full-time job.

How parents balance homeschooling and working full time

Few parents who homeschool and work full time claim to have it all figured out. Instead, they are learning as they go. Lauren Rowello and their wife have been homeschooling for the past seven years — long before the pandemic. At first, says Rowello, they were doing part-time work on nights and weekends that was easy to manage. As time has gone on, though, the couple has had to work hard to balance their careers and the education of their two children.

“I’m often working in the back of a classroom, stealing minutes to edit a draft or send a pitch here and there.”

— Lauren Rowello, freelance journalist and homeschool parent

In an effort to find progressive community in the homeschooling world, Rowello found themself running and even establishing homeschool co-ops and community programs. Rowello’s job as a freelance journalist has always been more flexible than their wife’s, so most of the schooling has been their responsibility. “I’m often working in the back of a classroom, stealing minutes to edit a draft or send a pitch here and there,” they say. “I sometimes write or do interviews in the car when I don’t have to be physically present with them.”

Like Rowello, Nikki Coleman feels like she’s managing a constant balancing act. The mom of three in Pittsburgh is homeschooling while working a standard 40-hour work week, which has less flexibility than freelancing. Only her oldest, a sixth grader, is school-aged at the moment — but having a toddler and infant certainly makes things difficult many days. Coleman says their routine has looked different during various seasons of life. As the family has navigated pregnancy, new babies, moving and changing roles at work, “our schedule has changed so much over the past few years,” she says. 

Like what you’re reading?

Join Care for free

By clicking “Join now,” you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Liz Bolton first began homeschooling while living on a remote Alaskan island and working part time. “It was a very specific place to homeschool, and the state also gave our family several thousand dollars a year for curriculum and extracurricular activities. It was awesome,” she says. Fast forward a few years, and the family has now relocated to New Hampshire, where Bolton attends grad school, teaches a college class and works as a senior copywriter. It’s a lot on her plate, but it works for their family. 

“I’ve become a convert, not to homeschooling specifically, but to listening better to my kids’ needs,” she says. Year by year and child by child, she and her husband evaluate what is a good fit for their two kids. Part of what she calls “leaning out” is deciding what she can cut from her own to-do list so she can be present for her kids. “I think that’s something that can resonate for lots of people, homeschoolers or not.”

Resources for parents who homeschool and work full time

At Practical By Default, Jen Mackinnon has been helping parents balance homeschooling and work by providing resources and a supportive online community for years. In her Facebook group, the Working Homeschool Mom Club, other homeschooling parents who work support one another, swap resources and commiserate on their unique experience. “I created The Working Homeschool Mom Club out of my own experience as a homeschool mom who unexpectedly had to return to work due to life’s challenges,” says Mackinnon. 

“Back then, I felt like I was navigating this journey alone, with no support and no one to turn to for guidance,” she adds. “My friends were either working moms or homeschool moms, but I couldn’t find anyone who was juggling both roles like I was.” With a community of over 30,000 members, Mackinnon — and her group members — no longer feel alone.

In addition to Practical by Default, there are a wide variety of online support networks and homeschooling resources parents can seek that match various value systems and learning styles. Check out:

Mackinnon also recently created a smaller group with a paid membership for those needing more individualized support.

Practical tips for how to homeschool and work full time

If you’re new to homeschooling and wondering if you can make it work with your job, or a current homeschooler considering returning to work, consider some of these tips for managing both roles.

1. Find the homeschool schedule that works for your family

Some families homeschool on evenings and weekends. Others learn early in the morning or arrange their schedule around different activities. “The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this puzzle because every family is unique, and their needs differ significantly,” says Mackinnon.

One thing that has helped Coleman is realizing how much of each public school day is actually spent in structured learning, which relieves some of the pressure she feels to teach all day. “I’d say we do maybe two hours daily of work together,” she says. Her daughter then has reading and independent work, as well. 

There’s no fixed formula for how homeschooling should look, Mackinnon adds. “What works for one family might not be suitable for another,” she says.

2. Challenge your expectations about learning

“I was taught to achieve, go big, to lean in,” says Bolton. “But I wasn’t taught that the opposite of that is not failure.” As she and her daughter have tried different methods of learning, Bolton says she’s learned to adjust her expectations of what is typical for kids. “It is actually fine for kids to play most of the day, even as they move into upper elementary,” she says. 

In a 2020 survey by Voice of Play, 67% of parents reported that more play improves connection with their child.  It also reduces stress for 65% of respondents, and 51% said that play helps teach cooperation.

As a high achieving student herself, Bolton says she wonders how much her drive towards high achievement sucked the joy out of the experience of learning and living in the moment. “They get inspired, and do something like bake cupcakes from scratch or build a table out of scrap wood,” she explains.

3. Outsource learning, activities and childcare when you can

Trading off childcare with other homeschool families is another way some working parents, like Rowello, make things work. “I feel like between my own actual job and managing the kids’ homeschooling stuff, it’s a lot of roles to balance that don’t really make sense together or support one another,” says Rowello. Outside support makes it possible to do both.

Coleman’s family relies on balancing schedules, extended family and sitters, as well as making use of educational resources outside the home. After completing two hours of direct instruction each day, Coleman gets creative to enrich her daughter’s learning. “I outsource some things here and there,” she says. Activities like coding classes, co-ops, music lessons and art groups both provide a well-rounded day and also often offer a bit of childcare.

4. Prioritize social-emotional learning and mental health

Rowello says their family focuses just as much on helping their kids develop as people as they do on academics. “I spend most of my time helping them develop coping skills and learn about their brains and their needs, plus justice issues, our world, over anything else,” they say.

“I generally use things that are developed for schools or therapy sessions and tweak them to fit our needs or our kids’ learning styles.”

—Lauren Rowello

They think, for their kids, that homeschooling is better for their mental health. “That’s one huge bonus for my kids,” they add. The family focuses on mindfulness and intentional conversations about their feelings. “I generally use things that are developed for schools or therapy sessions and tweak them to fit our needs or our kids’ learning styles.”

For social and emotional learning resources for kids, check out:

5. Seek community with other homeschool parents

Even on a remote Alaskan island, Bolton used community to support her work and her kids’ education. “It was fun to do little field trips, have meetups to work on science or art with another family and do homeschool swimming lessons,” she explains.

Support for homeschoolers varies by city and state, but parents seeking community might consider resources such as:

  • Homeschool groups on Facebook.
  • Local homeschool co-ops.
  • Neighborhood play groups.
  • Community programs for homeschoolers.

Whether it’s in-person support or online groups, relying on other parents makes working and homeschooling easier. Mackinnon says that’s why she founded her business. “It’s amazing to witness this diverse group of women coming together to encourage and uplift one another,” she adds.

6. Remember that work is a learning opportunity, too

Mackinnon acknowledges that it has not always been easy, but says the benefits of working and homeschooling outweigh the drawbacks for most working parents. “As a working mom, you get to learn how to prioritize in a way that fits your family’s needs, and it’s incredible how it boosts your confidence in being a teacher for your kids,” she says.

“I absolutely love that my children get to learn alongside me on this homeschooling journey, but they also learn from seeing me as a working mom running my own business,” she adds. “They see firsthand that learning never stops, and it’s a beautiful thing.”