Fancy some quality education where you can ditch all that boring old curriculum for good? Well, that is unschooling for you. A form of homeschooling, the unschooling method is less structured since students can choose what subjects they want to learn as long as the path works best for them. But some experts argue that it is difficult for families to cope with unschooling their child since most parents have a day-time job which requires them to work full time. So, how do parents strike a balance between working full time and unschooling their children? Fret not, as we got you covered here.
Adjust Your Schedule
Most jobs require you to work from 9 to 5, often leaving you dead tired by the time you get home. But with the advancement of technology, there is increasing acceptance for more flexible hours and working from home. There are lots of jobs that do not require you to be present in an office. Great examples are software development, graphic design, and any other digital jobs. If your work does not require you to be in an office, consider asking your boss for more flexible hours or even a work from home arrangement. Great talent is hard to find these days, and if you’re performing an important role in your job it will be much better for them to keep you by letting you work the way you prefer rather than letting you go and finding someone else to replace you.
Optimize the learning window
Working for a living wage means that time is a scarce resource. The good news is that when done correctly, you don’t really need a whole day to unschool your child. Getting in a good 4 hours of focused learning each and every day is much more effective than 12 hour stretches. Even adults aren’t able to focus well for that long, let alone young children. Getting into the habit of effective, focused, 4 hour sessions will give you more leeway in getting time off from your job. Planning your work hours around 4 hours of unschooling time is much easier than planning for 8 hours.
The rest of the time can be used for the child to play – which is what children are meant to do in the first place. Getting a good balance of learning and play will lead to the child developing a balance of both intellectual and intuitive capabilities, both of which are very valuable in today’s workplace.
Work From Home
In this digital age – and especially post-pandemic, working from home has become more common requiring that you have nothing more than a laptop and some high-speed internet connection or wifi. Many people can easily make the transition from telecommuting their jobs to teaching Algebra at home to their child through the use of live video conferences such as zoom and skype. If your job permits, why not suggest to your employer to have it done remotely? By doing that, you can kill two birds with one stone. If that is out of the question, there are other endless remote jobs such as a virtual assistant, blogger, entrepreneur, and more that allow you to set your own time so that you can make money at home. But make sure you are not committed to a job the whole day so that you can spend enough time with your child.
Hire Additional Child Care
If money is something that doesn’t allow you to let go of your current career, then you might need to look elsewhere for some help. For example, hiring somebody or a helper to compensate for the hours you need to be away from home. Since unschooling gives your child the liberty to learn whatever they want but without a lesson plan or schedule, your child can be independently learning on their own without you supervising them 24/7. Because only when you are at home can you provide them with the support, mentorship, and resources they need. If not, hiring a tutor is the second-best solution for your child – especially if he or she is a certified education specialist in the unschooling field that can facilitate your child’s learning process in your absence.
Get Help From Friends and Family
If hiring a tutor is out of the question, another option is to get help from people who are closest to you such as your friends and family. But this also depends on how willing your support network is to help and whether they can dedicate their spare time to your child. Be warned – there’s a chance that this could work, but there’s also a chance that it could turn sour. The best bet is to combine hiring a tutor and getting help from family. Many young parents often underestimate how much work it takes to take care of young children. If this is not handled well, it can cause resentment to build up over time and destroy family relationships. If you choose to go this route, make sure to reward your family members to agree to help either with financial remuneration or otherwise with helping them out in some way in return. Make sure that they know you appreciate their willingness to help.
Share The Load With Other Unschoolers or Co-Ops
Splitting time with other unschooling parents or getting involved in an unschooling co-op is one of the best solutions. You can work and introduce your child to other like-minded individuals who share the same common ground as them. For example, kids like them who want to be a ballerina when they grow up. Besides that, this method also encourages socialization for your unschooled child and is a great confidence booster for them as they open up to more people along the way. Also, your child might meet people who might inspire and motivate them along the education path so that they can be on the highway to success when they grow up. Through friendships formed between you and other unschooling parents, you can count on them to provide a watchful eye over your child as they tend to their kids at the same time.
Consider hybrid schooling
Negotiating more flexible work hours is not easy. You might only get a week or so of working from home in a month. In this case, you might want to consider hybrid schooling. Hybrid schooling is where you send your child to school for some basic subjects but they learn at home for subjects you want them to specialize in. For example if your child is gifted at playing the piano, you can still send them to school for basic subjects like reading, basic math and science. Then for the days that you work from home you can focus on the piano playing.
You’ll need to talk to the school management for them to allow this though. Some schools are flexible enough to allow this, and some are not. It’s worth trying either way.
What are some of the benefits of unschooling?
Critical thinking is encouraged
Some of the benefits of unschooling including the promotion of critical thinking among children. Critical thinking is important as it encourages kids to question things they do not understand, from content to rules and regulations but in a respectful way. Because of that, they can think on their own feet and learn to evaluate between good and bad when faced with a difficult situation.
Problem-solving is encouraged
Problem-solving is one of the biggest top ten skills that employers seek today. However, this is something that is lacking in our education system today. Most public schools emphasize problem-solving through the use of punishments and bribery, not by consulting and collaborating. Yet success in life is achieved through solving real-life problems. In unschooling, children are free to practice problem-solving so that their life becomes easier and less stressful.
Providing a safe learning environment
Research shows that up to 40% of children experience test anxiety. Academic stress can lead to depression, sleep disturbances, and substance use. A study from 2013 found out that the benefits of unschooling surpassed its challenges as many parents believed their children to be more passionate and eager about learning. Because the learning atmosphere is more relaxed and flexible since there is no grading or testing in unschooling.
Unschooling provides a more customized, tailored approach to your child
With unschooling, you can get to adjust school according to your child’s needs. Parents get to be in charge of their child’s schedule, grade level, learning approach, curriculum, and more. Unschooling is not just for regular kids, but all kinds of kids as well. You can tailor them for kids who are left behind, gifted kids, or advanced kids who have ADD/ADHD, and kids who have special needs.
Unschooling focuses on extreme achievement or passion
A child who is training to be a world-class pianist will find that unschooling will give him or her time to focus on their interest rather than being forced to study something that they have no interest in. For example, they can use the hours in unschooling to practice on the piano so that they can achieve their goals. Because unschooling is about following his or her dreams and passions as an education.
In short, you can do both unschooling and working full-time work as long as you learn how to plan accordingly combined with some support and creative thinking. Since unschooling is a different take for each person and each family, take your time and figure out what schedule, routine, or mix of both works for you. Do not be afraid of making mistakes or trying new things because if something isn’t working, step back and evaluate. After all, learning through trial and error is part of the unschooling process, isn’t it?