You Don’t Have to Choose Between Doing Your Job and Homeschooling

It sounds impossible to juggle, but it can be done, with some creativity and flexibility

Laura Vanderkam
Forge
Published in
4 min readMar 26, 2020

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A father looks over from his laptop at his son’s school work at home.
Photo: mediaphotos/E+/Getty Images

Laura Vanderkam, the time management expert who wrote Off the Clock and Juliet’s School of Possibilities, is here to answer your scheduling questions. Check back every week for more advice, and send your own productivity problems to asklaura@medium.com. (Your name will not be used.)

Dear Laura: Like many people during this global pandemic, I’m working from home for the foreseeable future, and my kids’ school is closed. They have a pile of schoolwork to do online, and once they’re done with that, I’d prefer they do something more educational than watch YouTube videos. But my schedule is still packed with work and remote meetings. Any suggestions for managing the logistics of homeschooling and working?

YYou’re far from the only person struggling with this right now. (If you really want to feel seen, check out this viral rant by an Israeli mom about her kids’ homeschooling.) Doing the job of a trained and qualified teacher, plus your own job, sounds close to impossible.

But it can be done. Even before the global pandemic, plenty of parents with flexible jobs had figured out how to do both, and still have some time left for fun. Managing it all requires you to be creative and accept some basic truths.

First: Homeschooling doesn’t require six to seven hours of classwork a day. For one thing, some of the school activities in a six-to-seven-hour school day are things your kids are probably doing at home anyway: eating lunch, running around outside, silent reading.

And formal instruction, with worksheets and lesson plans, isn’t the only way to learn, or even the best way. As the writer Sim Kern pointed out in a tweet recently, “we teach that way in schools because of CROWD CONTROL, not because it’s the best way to learn. Kids have a rare opportunity here to engage in deep, authentic learning instead.” Individualized instruction is more efficient, and can be packed into fewer hours. It’s also worth broadening your idea of what’s “educational”: A walk outside, accompanied by a discussion of ecosystems; making a pizza dough from scratch as a biology…

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Laura Vanderkam
Forge
Writer for

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management books including Off the Clock and 168 Hours. She blogs at LauraVanderkam.com.