Any form of homeschooling, including unschooling, may seem like a fantasy if you and your partner both work full-time outside of the home. Or perhaps you’re a single parent working full-time hours and sending your kids to public school is offsetting the cost of care for your child while you’re at work. If you feel strongly that your child should be enjoying the creative freedom of an unschooling type of education but you don’t think you have the means to provide it with your current work schedule, there may be a few options to consider.
Adjust Your Schedule
With some occupations, there is a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to your work schedule. Anyone who does shift work with day, evening, night, and weekend schedules may be able to work things so at least one parent is always home to be with the kids. Some jobs will allow you to choose the shifts you’ll be working each month or trade your shifts with other people so you can have the time off you’ll need. If you’re a single parent, this can be helpful if you only have certain days or times you can get child care.
Adjust to One Income or Switch to Part-Time
If you can’t manipulate your schedule to have the days off you’ll need, maybe cutting back on some of your hours and working part-time will give you the flexibility you need to allow your child to be unschooled. In a two parent household, keeping one parent at home full-time might be an option if you can make it work financially. If unschooling your child is important to you, it may be a good idea to reassess your monthly budget and see what you can do without and where you can save money in order to live on a smaller income.
Work From Home
In this digital age where everything can be done online, working from home has never been easier. Many people are able to telecommute for their jobs, allowing them to spend most or all of their work day at home. If you have a job that can be done remotely, it may be worth suggesting this to your employer. There are also endless entrepreneurial ideas that will allow you to make money from home, set your own hours, and be your own boss. If you aren’t already committed to a job that requires you to be away from home all day, consider having at least one parent restructure their career in a way that can let them work from home. Even one parent working full-time and the other supplementing that main income from a home business may be all your family requires.
Hire Additional Child Care
If it makes the most financial sense for you to stick with your current career you can always get a little help for the hours you need to be away from home. Unschooling is all about learning with freedom without a lesson plan or schedule. Your child can guide their own education while you’re out of the house but you can set time aside with the hours you are home to be available to support, mentor, and provide the resources they need. A nanny, babysitter, or day care program that is familiar with your child’s unschooling path may be able to help facilitate their education as much as the child needs.
Get Help From Friends and Family
Depending on the amount of time that your job keeps you away from home and how willing your support network is to help, creating a child care schedule with friends and family can allow you to keep working without needing the typical school day as a means of child care. Grandparents, older siblings, or close family friends can help provide the atmosphere your child needs for unschooling and may be a more affordable option than hiring additional help.
Share Time With Other Unschoolers or Co-Ops
Splitting time with other unschooling parents or getting involved in an unschooling co-op might be one of the best solutions there is. Not only can this provide you with the time you need to be at work but you’re also introducing your child to other like-minded individuals who are following their own passions and interests as a form of education. This can be a great method of socialization for your unschooled child and can also open them up to people who may inspire and motivate them along their educational path.
Unschool After School
Even if your child is currently attending a traditional school for the time being, this doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing them for an unschooling lifestyle and mentality after school hours. Maybe you’re currently working on a plan to keep them home and allow them to control their own education. Or maybe you just aren’t sure what to do yet but you really want to introduce the idea of unschooling and self-guided education. Ideally, unschooling is about removing the rigid structure of school, but if it isn’t an option for you right away it doesn’t mean you can’t open your child’s mind to this alternative educational philosophy after school.
Unschooled children may require more guidance in the beginning but as they grow more comfortable with leading their own education they will require less help on your end. For older children, this may mean that they won’t require child care in the hours you’re at work and for younger children, it will mean they can be teaching themselves under the care of an older sibling or a babysitter who wouldn’t be expected to facilitate their unschooling.
Setting up a scenario that allows your children to learn through unschooling may be difficult at first but solutions are definitely available if you can get a little creative. Your perfect solution may be achieved by implementing a combination of these suggestions, such as cutting back on a few hours at work while also trading child care hours with another unschooling parent.