Homeschooling while completing a higher degree by research
By Tracy L’Allier
As I write these words, I’m rocking my toddler to sleep while helping my six-year-old complete her online maths homework.
My life is all about taking advantage of the time I have available in one day to accomplish a multitude of tasks. I am a homeschooling mum who is completing a Master of Medical Research at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. Crazy, you might say, but I am not the only one. There is even a Facebook group for parents in the same boat! In the degree, I am learning about the dietary habits of Australians recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I am analysing their food intake, paying careful attention to the carbohydrates they eat, including fibre and sugar.
The impact of the decision
My husband and I decided a few years ago that we would educate our children at home. I won’t go in details as of why we chose to go down that path, but the decision came with a bunch of other lifestyle arrangements. By doing home education, we also decided to work or study part-time, essentially living off one salary.
Homeschooling means your children are with you all the time, so it’s important to be able to share this task with the other parent and make sure you have time for yourself. The good news is you don’t need to do homeschooling from 9 am to 3 pm. With our six-year-old, we rarely do more than two hours per day.
Homeschooling by choice or by obligation
With the current COVID19 confinement, including the shut down of many schools, parents are now facing the challenge of homeschooling. They might have been provided with resources and homework which is the big difference with full time homeschoolers like us.
At the beginning of the year, my husband and I plan a program based around the Australian curriculum and submit it to the Home Education Unit Queensland. Others prefer to buy a complete curriculum such as Complete Education Australia or My Homeschool based on Charlotte Mason concepts. At the end of the year, we report our progress to the Home Education Unit in Queensland (it can vary between states).
If you are looking for worksheets, Teachers Pay Teachers is my favourite website and there is a lot of free resources too. We even like to branch out on our activities, and the Internet is full of great ideas for this! We’ve even taken a virtual walk around Disneyland.
A typical homeschooling and studying day
There is no set routine. I try to plan one week ahead so I can include homeschooling and my own study. However this doesn’t always go to schedule. So, I try to use the hour when the kids watch television in the morning to work on my research or coursework. Then, I work another couple of hours (or none!) later in the day. I also work in the evening or on weekends (sometime while watching Nextflix!). It’s all about planning and using your time wisely. Let’s say I don’t have much time to scroll on social media!
The greatest thing about homeschooling
Flexibility! We can adapt our day around the whole family (including baby brother’s naps!). Some weeks, we do learning during the weekend and other weeks we take a few days off. I also love the flexibility to teach what I believe to be important lessons in life: sustainability, cooking, grocery shopping, gardening, etc. Anything can be a learning opportunity.
Now, someone has to invent a self-rocking pram because my arm is about to fall off!