Disclosure: I love Pamela Price’s new book. And not just because she’s a friend of mine. I love it because it’s thorough and hopeful and helpful and chock full of amazing resources for non-homeschoolers as much as it is for homeschoolers. I received a complimentary copy of her book, How to Work and Homeschool, but I did not receive any compensation. Thoughts and opinions here are mine alone.
I enjoyed the opportunity, recently, to interview my friend and fellow blogger, Pamela Price, about her new book, How to Work and Homeschool. Pamela blogs at Red, White, & Grew, which was originally dedicated to the revival of victory gardens. Eventually, Pamela expanded her blog’s mission to cover, “modern life in the spirit of the victory garden,” including a focus on her life as a homeschooler and the lessons she’s learning within it.
In How to Work and Homeschool, Pamela makes the case that homeschooling parents are educational entrepreneurs. While I’m not a homeschooler myself, I am an entrepreneur who works from home while raising two young children.
Over the last five years, stretching myself between work and parenting at the same time, and in the same space, has been one of the biggest challenges of my professional life. In 2008 when I started my company, I hired babysitters to care for my toddler son while my daughter attended preschool. But sitters would cancel at the last minute, putting me in the difficult position of having to cancel meetings and miss important work time. Next, I tried daycare programs but found them to be too expensive as well as limiting in terms of the amount of time I could spend with my kids.
What’s the point of working for yourself, I wondered, if you can’t get what you want out of the experience? What I wanted was to be fulfilled both as a parent and a business owner. Feeling pulled in too many directions and experiencing constant frustration by my inability to give what was needed, fully, to both working and parenting, I backed off of my full-time work schedule. Over the last two years, I’ve elected to take on a much lighter workload with the intention of spending more time with my kids.
Both of my children will attend public school this fall, allowing me to increase my workload and enjoy more purposefully segmented time for both my family and my work. But oh, how I wish I’d had a copy of Pamela’s book five years ago when I began juggling early motherhood while starting my own business.
How to Work and Homeschool is completely relevant to work-from-home parents who may not be homeschoolers. Through Pamela’s research, practical tips, advice, sample schedules, and frank discussions on the issue of creating a work/life balance, entrepreneurial parents will find the resource they’ve been looking for to help them, and their children, thrive.
After reading Pamela’s book, I couldn’t wait to ask her a few questions about homeschooling and working from home:
The idea of homeschooling can be overwhelming to some parents because they feel underprepared to meet the demands of their children’s educational needs and they’re not even sure where to start planning. What are the first steps parents should take when contemplating homeschooling?
First, it’s important to honor one’s own learning curve. Allocate time to learn how to homeschool. Do some research online, look at different methods and models, and shop around for what works. I often recommend the Homeschool Diner and the Click-o-Matic Homeschool Quiz as great starting points for discovery.
Families will also get the most out of the transition—and have a successful one—if they take the time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of kids and parents alike. That is just so important.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to work while homeschooling but who is also daunted by juggling all that lies ahead?
Commit to just one year, one month, and one day at a time. Evaluate and adjust as you go along. Note, too, that the beauty of homeschooling is that it can be cut to fit a family and change as the needs of the family change. (This goes for parents and kids alike.)
For those who work from home and homeschool, having children around (especially young children) can be incredibly distracting while trying to work. What tactics did you use when your son was young to keep him occupied during your stretches of work time?
We practiced the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, which is heavy on art-making and project-based learning. (If I had it to do over again, I would use Lori Pickert’s new book, Project-Based Homeschooling. We invested in washable markers and crayons and set up his play area in the living room to be inviting. It kept him busy! We also relied heavily upon PBS shows and their PBS Kids website—especially when I needed to take a call.
As a lifestyle writer, I’ve been able to take him along with me on editorial meetings and on interviews. Sometimes he just sits and plays with the iPad; other times, like when we went to interview a lady who teaches kids to ride horses, he wanted in on the action.
How do you make sure you don’t lose your essential self between the demands of both working and homeschooling?
I’m lucky. For me, the process of writing and coaching parents on homeschooling is so intimately tied to my sense of self that it’s hard to separate the two. I guess you could say that I stumbled into my “right livelihood.” So my work is my primary release and a way of keeping my brain engaged with the outside world. I try to utilize principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to reframe situations and keep my head clear. I’m also big fan of “flow theory” and apply related principles to my life and homeschooling as well.
Tell us more about HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com, the online companion to your book. What can readers expect to find there?
You know, I was initially sort of reluctant to spin off a separate site for the book. I had planned to promote it through RedWhiteandGrew.com. But then as I was writing—and my first draft was twice as long as it needed to be—I realized that we working homeschool parents needed a place to parse through the myriad issues (organization, dealing with personality differences, inspiration) related to our unique lifestyles. I also wanted a place for folks to share their own stories—an outlet, if you will. HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com and the corresponding Facebook page are designed with that in mind.
Describe your online How to Homeschool workshops. Who is the ideal attendee? And, what are the upcoming dates?
The workshops are designed to walk parents step-by-step through the process of creating a homeschool plan. It’s pretty intensive, but it’s the best way that I know how to teach people everything they need to know. I like the workshop format because people can learn from one another. It’s very powerful. And, as a homeschool consultant, I don’t see it as my job to “make” someone a homeschooler. My role is to facilitate their discovery of what homeschooling involves. Most of my former workshoppers go on to homeschool successfully. Others decide to become devoted afterschoolers. I consider them all successful relative to their needs and desires. It would be arrogant and foolhardy for me to assume that homeschooling while working is perfect for every single family all the time. I’m more interested in helping people understand their options and succeed at that choice if it’s the right one for them to make. I want to empower parents to broaden their education options, not shrink them.
I had planned to host a workshop in early August, but currently I’m looking at a new hosting platform, so it probably won’t be until late in August.
Your journey to published author is a “blog to book” success story. What advice would you give to bloggers striving to become authors?
If you want to be a writer, dedicate your time and energy to it. Write for different venues, too, such as local papers. Practice the craft of writing. I’m not talking about perfect grammar, either. I’m talking about finding your voice and telling a story. Be real. And keep your integrity online in all that you do.
Given that my book deal came about, in part, through a Pinterest pin of one of my blog posts, I should add that you want to make sure that you’re social media savvy. Build a platform to showcase your thoughts and ideas through your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etcetera. A good idea is a good idea but a good idea with a good social media platform is more attractive to publishers.
Pamela is scheduled to appear on WOAI’s San Antonio Living show this Monday, July 22. Tune in to learn more about How to Work and Homeschool.