When we started homeschooling, I had to quit a very low-paying job in order to make the schedule work. As time went on, I built up a music teaching business which quickly exceeded what I brought home at the other job.
It worked surprisingly well for us, but it still begs the question: can it work for everyone?
The short answer is that I think it can for most, but before you decide on whether to work or not, answer these questions:
- If you have a spouse or significant other, do you need both incomes?
Often, expenses can be cut down to a point where both incomes are not necessary, or at least not completely. If you can design schedules so that one parent does most of the schooling, and the other does most of the bread-winning the rest can and will come out in the wash with a bit of planning. In California, both incomes were a must, and then some. Here in Texas, not as much, but still needed.
- Do you have, or can you create, a steady stream of income from a home-based business? Do you have enough income to pay for daycare on occasion?
This is a tough question, and while it applies mostly to single parents, it really does matter if you need a second income. I’ve met single homeschooling parents who run the gamut from being independently wealthy to being on welfare. The truth of the matter is that whatever happens, and whatever you decide, you have to be brutally honest with yourself on what is possible; and what sort of example it provides your children. I do believe it’s possible to be a single parent and homeschool – I see it every day.
- How much older is your spouse? Do they have a physical job requiring strength?
My husband cleans and repairs pools, he is often carrying 100 pounds of chemicals, parts, etc. He’s also 11 years older than I am, and cannot do this for the rest of his life – this is a fact. When we discussed homeschooling, that was a big concern for me – what if something happens to him? I did not need to work full time, but I did need to keep my skills sharp to be able to pick up the slack – should something happen.
Moral of the story is that some families have hefty insurance policies, others have skills or savings on which they can fall back. Whichever the case is for you, make sure that you’re both clear with expectations, hopes, dreams, and fears. The fears are often far smaller in reality than they are in our head, so getting those out in the air is important.
- Do you have the support of your family? Do you have relatives in the area who might be called upon to help?
Here’s a dicey question. We have some family members who are very supportive and others just sort of look the other way because it’s a losing argument. We have the advantage of knowledge, experience, and statistics…
That said, if you have family who might be willing to help, terrific! If not, start networking. Maybe there’s another family who is in the same boat. Bottom line here is to get out there, find meet ups, groups and co-ops, start talking to people. You never know what you’ll find until you look.
Pick up a copy of Summer 2017 for even more advice to work and homeschool.