Homeschool Parents – 3 Ways to (Start) Work

3 Ways Homeschool Parents Can (Start) Work

I particularly dislike false, artificial dichotomies.

As a homeschooling fanatic, I hate the line that gets drawn between learning and the real world by conventional schooling.

And I don’t like arbitrary lines drawn within family life either.

I strongly believe that both Mom and Dad (and Grandma, Grandpa, older siblings, et al) should be involved in the home educational process.

I believe that everyone should do housework: Mom, Dad, and the kids.

And I also am pretty staunch about the ideal of both parents earning money.

When I was younger and less wise about the ways of the world, I used to wonder why all the old ladies I encountered growing up seemed to be a little on the “nuts” side.

But soon after marriage and children…and coping with the demands of household labor I figured it out.

Of course they were nuts, many of them spent their entire lives cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, and battling the never-ending onslaught of household chores!

Who wouldn’t go crazy doing all that unredeeming labor?

In other words, I don’t think it’s healthy for any one person to be doing “mindless” work all the time.

So employment out in the larger economy I think is a great idea.

Not only will it keep a parent’s brain sharper for the long run…

Not only will it supply the benefit of additional money and prime a future emptynester for a semblance of a career…

But it will set an instructive example of well-roundedness for the impressionable children.

Recently I was speaking to a homeschool Dad about his teenage daughter. “What are her long-term goals?” I asked.

“She wants to be a Mom.”

Really? I took a deep breath and bit my tongue.

Biologically speaking that’s not a very lofty goal.

Let’s assume that she wants to be a “great Mom”. Okay.

Well I submit, she’ll make a much better Mom if she has experience in the non-household economy that she can teach to her children!

In this case, I know for a fact, that Dad works all the time, all over the globe, and Mom is home, doing all the homeschooling. That is the model they have shown their teenage daughter, and it’s defined the parameters (ceiling!) of her ambition.

So how can a homeschooling parent possibly work at the same time? I mean teaching math, phonics, science, history, handwriting, etc. to multiple kids on top of all the meal prep, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring, disciplining, dog-walking, and not to mention once in a while going to the bathroom and bathing ourselves can be quite daunting.

1 – Un-Homeschool

Well first of all, they have to be extremely efficient with the homeschooling.

That means pushing the kids towards “self-teaching” relentlessly.

In my previous column – Ironclad Rules for Instant Homeschool Success – I warned against “recreating school at home”, among other common mistakes. I would add that homeschooling parents should not only resist being too hands-on, but should be actively striving to be more and more HANDS-OFF.


After all, many parents tell me they homeschool precisely because they wanted to be very involved in their kids’ learning.

Well, self-education and self-propulsion are the most important things we can teach our kids….and we do so by backing off. We’ll demand a lot them, with constantly rising expectations, but the sooner we get them to teach themselves that new math concept, teach them to schedule their work for the week, teach them to get themselves out of bed, make their own meals, get chores done WITHOUT nagging, and generally become more responsible, the better for everyone.

And the sooner we cut the umbilical cord, the more time we can sneak in on our own “work”.

That’s what I’ve been doing over the years.

TIP – Have your kids make up their own schedules for the week. You’ll be amazed by probably at least one of your kids who, by taking such control and “ownership”, of their day makes a quantum leap in personal productivity.

2 – Steal Time

I tell my clients, my readers, and anyone else who’ll listen that the secret to success in life is really about maximizing the “in-between” time. Those are the hours spent in the car, waiting in doctors’ offices, hanging around soccer practice and Boy Scout meetings, etc.

99% of parents, and most kids, do absolutely nothing in this allegedly dead/lost time and that’s a crucial mistake on many fronts, with steep long-term implications.

First off, the kids should be reading at all times. They should NEVER go anywhere without plenty of books.

Secondly, homeschool parents should be reading too – setting the example that time should not be wasted AND that reading is not an assignment or obligation, but rather a tool to dramatically enhance one’s entire life.

What can they read?

Well, I read books on education and homeschooling BUT I also read plenty on business, marketing, self-motivation, health and fitness, and personal development. In fact, through the first 4 months of 2016, I have managed to read OVER 50 books thus far.

If not reading, I’m listening to audiobooks or podcasts in the same categories. Or, I’ve got my laptop out to do any number of things: research, writing, communicating with parents, managing my kids’ stuff, etc.

I may even be exercising simultaneously to my kids’ homeschool classes or “after-school” activities.

Whatever I’m doing, I’m not squandering time and opportunity!

Unfortunately, I seem to be the ONLY ONE, the only parent, doing anything productive in these moments. All the other parents – and that would be both homeschool and school parents – are just sitting there, staring at their phones, making idle chatter, fussing over the kids (especially with “snacks”),…

The net result is that by the end of the day, it’s very easy to go to bed having done NOTHING at all for one’s personal development. And these days add up over time.

Of course you are still wondering how will books help you “work”, right?

3 – Be Creative

Well books do many things. Chiefly they exercise your brain and keep it open to what’s going on outside the chaos of your family life.

They also fill in the glaring voids from our own personal “school” education. Finally we get to learn about the vast diversity of human experience, and importantly about ECONOMICS – which is easily the most vital real world subject that has been deliberately banned from government school curricula. Note the private schools, even the “best” ones don’t address it either. Here’s the apropos word, which you probably didn’t learn in school either:


The very last thing the “powers-at-be” want is a nation of freethinking, self-reliant, independent entrepreneurs. That’s the entire original purpose and end-goal of school – to create a controlled populace, a bunch of employees dependent on institutions and handouts, a bunch of mindless order-followers who are subject to anointed experts. Okay. Sorry, screed over. Read John Taylor Gatto if you haven’t already.

A few years ago, a friend of mine stated it best. He said we need to teach our kids, “….to create a job, NOT get a job.”

But like me, he didn’t fully learn that for himself until he was 35ish, an age when it’s harder to take risks, re-wire our brains, and essentially reinvent ourselves.

School dangerously taught us that work was punching a clock and reporting to “the man”. It taught us to trade our time for money, i.e. to be hourly wage slaves.

So busy homeschool parents look at their scant if not completely nonexistent free time, and erroneously conclude that they can’t be working while homeschooling.

Though nothing could be further from the truth. Idea and opportunities are abound for the curious, the ambitious, and the open-minded. Furthermore, one need not trade their time for money.

The other day I sent this message to a friend of mine, a homeschool mom, who I’ve long been encouraging to expand her marketable skill set.

“Hey, check out this Mom group on Meetup….at $10/member, look how much the Mom who started is raking in!”

(Well, there were 5,000 annual dues-paying members, i.e. $50,000 in PASSIVE income, per year!!!)

I know “full-time” homeschool parents who are wedding planners, professional photographers, real estate agents, writers, website owners, lactation consultants, programmers,…

I know a homeschool Mom in Brooklyn who imports salmon into the city from Alaska, another who has an oyster farm, and still another who runs an entire organic farm in the Hamptons.

Of course I do homeschool consulting, accelerated math teaching, and even still dabble a little trading the financial markets….all while technically homeschooling full-time.

There’s simply no shortage of ways to earn a supplemental wage these days, given the easy access to tools, resources, expertise, etc. on the internet.

It can certainly take a while to figure out another source of income – one with leverage, one that’s semi-enjoyable, one that doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of our homeschooling. But I would encourage you to keep looking and trying things out.

There was a period of at least a few years where I realized that I needed to transition away from trading stocks, commodities, futures, and options. But I genuinely had no idea what to do.

Then one day, one of my blog readers, after continually hearing about the success I had teaching my son suggested that I make some instructional DVDs on how to teach math. At that point a massive light bulb went off in my head. I had never before thought of a career in education – because that would mean teaching in a dreaded school, right? Who even knew there were educators that could work on their own terms and even be compensated MORE than institutionalized, CERTIFIED teachers? I didn’t. Not at the time anyway.

I always encourage parents to work, to leverage their time, but also to hold out for something they will enjoy.

Somebody famous, (Steve Jobs?), said that if you love your job you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That’s powerful stuff!

Check out the homeschool-grown business here – Traveling Homeschoolers.

So maybe look for opportunities within the homeschool universe. How about ‘private homeschooling’ for starters? That’s taking another family’s child in and teaching them alongside yours – or instead of yours if your kids are fully-launched now. Trust me, it’s a burgeoning market that will only get bigger. Your homeschooling expertise can indeed become very marketable, if you can learn the required skill set.


Wrapping up my advice on how you can get started with a little side work…

Optimize your time. Invest your energy not just in your kids, but in yourself. And use your imagination to unearth new opportunities.

I myself have to run now and get back to work…

Dan (22 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at

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Thinking About Special Needs


Growing up it was quite rare for me to come into contact with an individual that had special needs. As I’ve gotten older it has become much more prevalent. There are many who believe that children today are misdiagnosed with disorders such as ADHD/ADD, sensory disorders, or even autism. Some diagnoses today I don’t even know what they mean by the term. Other special needs we can readily see, such as Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.

Before you get defensive, I’m not stating that these children do or don’t have whatever they are diagnosed with. For the purpose of this post, it really does not matter if they do or do not. Rather this post is about understanding what it means when a child or adult is diagnosed with a disorder, of any kind. What matters is how you react to the child and their family.

Thinking About Special Needs -- how to support homeschool families with special needs.

It is human nature to shun what we don’t understand; to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. One reason I think I did not have contact with special needs children or adults while I was growing up is because they were not included in the general activities as all the other kids. They instead were kept to a room or building where others “like them” could be taught and cared for. {This also isn’t a post about whether that is right or wrong, then or now.}

Nowadays there is a much stronger push for inclusion in schools and so society in general may be getting a more realistic view of what it is like for those with special needs. Those children in those classrooms see that the child with special needs struggles with sitting still, talking quietly, learning to read, working on math, etc.

It is amazing how many homeschoolers I have come into contact, in real life but more through online correspondence, who are working with children with special needs. It is tough! But at the same time, those families are learning something that other families may not be learning: what it takes to step out of yourself for the sake of another.

By that statement I am not saying that homeschooling families of children with special needs are superior to other homeschooling families. But you would be shortchanging them if you made a statement that they don’t have more of a struggle. They require a strength that some others do not possess because they have never had to work that part of themselves because they do not have special needs in their lives.

So what I’m proposing is for us to put ourselves out there for those families with members with special needs. Take time to support the entire family.


  • Ask questions to better help understand the situation and circumstance.
  • Be humble.
  • Offer support that will be beneficial to the child and family (be careful to give support that is not self-serving).
  • Take time on your own to research the particular needs so that you can be better equipped to help the family as they need it.


  • Do not be belligerent or tell them that their child (or other member of the family) doesn’t have whatever diagnosis that is stated.
  • Don’t tell the family what they should do for their child or situation. Offer humble advice that is based on relevant experience and understanding of their situation.
  • Don’t avoid the family because you don’t understand the needs. (See “Do” list.)
  • Do not take it personal if the child or parents do not want to talk about their situation. Each person and family are different. Respect their space and them as people.

What are some specific ways we can support those with special needs? Does your family have special needs? If so, what are some of the ways others can help you?

North Laurel (35 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel's Musings.

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Evaluating Learning Gaps


Evaluating Learning Gaps in your Homeschool.

Homeschoolers can become confused and frustrated by the unevenness of learning, and seemingly gaping holes in their child’s understanding. When you wonder if you’ve finally met your match because your kid is just not getting it. Or you’re subjecting yourself to all kinds of guilt because maybe your kid should have been evaluated by a professional for a learning disability after all.  And the worry that this particular delay or issue doesn’t fall within the parameters of “normal”. Oh the anxiety produced when we second-guess ourselves and doubt our ability to recognize our child’s needs! And all too often, we are subjecting ourselves to much of that anxiety because we are comparing ourselves and our kids to others or to an unrealistic standard.

Now, I’m not saying that learning disabilities and challenges aren’t real. As Leah explained in “Does Your Child Need a Special Needs Label?” there are cases in which a formal evaluation and diagnosis can be very helpful in addressing a child’s specific needs. And I add my encouragement to parents to trust their own instinct and knowledge about their child as to whether pursuing a diagnosis would be a wise move.

The reality is that even kids without a special needs label can experience a real difficulty in one subject area even though they do fine, or excel in others. It’s also a reality that kids can hit a roadblock in their learning that slows their progress significantly, even though they don’t have a specific learning disability that is causing their slowdown. If you’re puzzled by a student that is surging ahead in some subjects and stymied by others, or seems to be completely stuck in understanding a concept, how do you handle it?

Let me offer two suggestions to combat the worry: Put the problem in perspective. Resist the temptation to compare unrealistically.

Most importantly, I believe you need perspective on the problem. Is this roadblock another piece in a puzzle that is starting to look like a special need or learning disability? If it’s something that’s part of a bigger picture that your gut says you should pay attention to, then do what you need to do. But it’s also possible that your child just needs a little extra time or a different approach. Try to look at that big picture. As an example, one of my students learned letters and phonic sounds easily by first grade, but then seemed to hit a wall when it came to sounding out words of more than three letters. A word like “spill” would come out as “slip” even though the sounds were in the right order when done individually. We were getting nowhere fast in second grade reading. And I worried. I worried because an older sibling had learned to read almost effortlessly, so I was sure that either I was doing something terribly wrong, or this child had a learning disability. Turns out I was exaggerating. When I did some research and consulted a good friend who was an early education specialist, I found out that a child’s mental ability to put together the “puzzle pieces” of something they understand into a bigger picture develops anywhere between five and eight years old. Was my child dyslexic? Quite possibly, but since he had never reversed numbers or written numbers or letters backwards, it didn’t seem as likely any more. So I relaxed and waited, and sure enough, that child learned to read.

As students get older, and move past the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, you may find that a kid that is going along great guns in every subject except one that they just don’t seem to grasp. The problem can become something akin to a special need during the high school years when subject areas overlap or one is dependent on another. A student that struggles with reading comprehension will be slowed down in almost every subject. A student that struggles with math and is “behind” grade level in that area will have a really tough time in the sciences that are so dependent on formulas and equations. I’ve got a student that does great in every subject area except math. And I can sympathize, because I’m somewhat math-challenged myself! This is where homeschooling can be such a blessing, because we can keep working at finding the curriculum and resources that make math understandable, without sticking a “remedial” label on it. We can keep working to interest and ability in the subjects that are strengths while finding workable solutions for learning the things that are not coming easily.

There will be learning gaps and uneven places in any education. Gaps where information was missed, and gaps where one concept or skill was elusive while others were mastered. Uneven places where learning moved quickly in one area but stumbled along in another, or where some subject areas had to be put on hold until the student could catch up in another area. Homeschooling offers the benefit of being able to adjust course for the uneven places, and come up with individualized solutions for filling in the gaps as we recognize them. This very ordinary – yet very special – need for overcoming an individual struggle is one we’ll all face at some point in our education.


Kym (15 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.

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