Our family has always had a fluid, yearly approach to our children’s education. The truth is, I’ve never been a dyed-in-the-wool homeschooler. Rather, I’ve found many reasons why solely homeschooling for every class isn’t always the perfect fit for every child, every year. We take a different approach for each child — each year we need to make educational decisions. Which means, in the past, we’ve utilized online classes, live online classes, textbooks, our local private school, and private tutoring to best meet the needs of the child at the place where they are at their age. This part-time homeschooling method has worked for us, and perhaps it can work for you! If you’re interested in part-time homeschooling to bring out the best in your child, here are the whys and the how-to strategies that will get you through!
Why part-time homeschool?
I remember the first time we decided to part-time homeschool. The previous year had been a tough one for our family. We had some serious losses mixed with a ton of unexpected changes and a side of trauma that no one could have expected. As a result, one of our kiddos really struggled emotionally and academically (and so did I!). So, when we were considering what to do the following year, it was clear that something had to change, and homeschooling full-time was no longer on the table. We decided to pursue outside help and ended up choosing to homeschool only part-time, selecting half of his classes to be taken at a local Christian school and the YMCA. This decision was made for several reasons, all focused on his emotional health.
- Accountability. Our main reason was to provide this child with outside accountability and support systems other than us. We wanted him to develop relationships with adults who could be his mentors and guide him at a time when his heart needed them. This was hard for me to take, not being able to fully meet his emotional needs, but so important for his growth and health.
- Specific subject help. Another reason for part-time homeschooling came when our middle child just couldn’t grasp reading. I’d taught reading to my oldest quite well, if I say so myself! I was quite proud and puffed up when I approached reading with my middle child. And boy, was I knocked down a few pegs. Unlike my oldest, this child just wasn’t grasping phonics and making connections the way my oldest had. By the middle of first grade, I knew I needed help. Outside tutoring from a reading specialist for reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension gave my struggling reader just what he needed to get over the mountain he was climbing while preserving my sanity and our relationship. It was tough to farm out two of the main subjects he needed that year, but well worth it. In this case, part-time homeschooling brought out the best in my child and gave him the confidence he needed to thrive. If your child is struggling, part-time homeschooling and seeking help outside your home could be exactly what you need, too!
- When parents need extra support. Do you have that specific subject that you are just terrified to teach? I have noticed this as my kids get closer to those upper-level classes. High schoolers need upper-level math, science labs, and college-level writing skills to be ready for the college or university of their dreams. It’s critical that you admit what you can and cannot teach, and consider farming out those classes that might be outside of your abilities or comfort zone. For high achievers, this could end up being half or most of their classes in a given year. And that’s OK! Because the goal is to meet your child’s needs in the way that gets them to the next level while preserving your family relationships (which is why we homeschool, right?)!
- Help with added stress. One of the most common reasons I’ve seen families turn to part-time homeschooling is a season of added stress or increased expectations on you, the parent. This situation can spring up for a variety of reasons, all leading to the same conclusion — you need help! Perhaps your workload is high this year, or you’re raising a special-needs child alongside your homeschooler. Maybe you’re burned out, moving, you have a new child in the home, or simply need a break for part of your day. There’s no shame in part-time homeschooling. In fact, if your goal is to bring out the best in your child, admitting that you don’t have the time to homeschool well on your own is exactly what you should do. In this situation, seek out support for classes that are a burden or more time consuming, but stay involved in those that bring your family together and add to your joy.
Regardless of why your family may choose to part-time homeschool, one thing is sure: part-time homeschooling is a great way to get the added support you need (I need!) without losing what you love about homeschooling.
In asking for help and farming out those subjects that you can’t or don’t want to teach, you’re giving your child the opportunity to learn from others, grow in socialization and responsibility, and experience learning outside of your home. Because that’s what homeschooling is all about: crafting the best education for each unique child, each year. Take it from this mom — part-time homeschooling can be a lifesaver for your family, your child, and your sanity!