Homeschooling is not an obstacle for running a business; with the right approach these two things can coexist and even complement each other. Entrepreneurship has enriched my homeschooling and life in general by teaching me new skills and by broadening my horizons – all of which is necessary to be a homeschool parent with a vision. On the other hand, being a homeschooler (which means that my kids are with me most of the time) has taught me valuable lessons and opened up unique opportunities for me to enhance and strengthen my career as a business owner and as an entrepreneur.
Here are some of these business opportunities, skills and qualities I’ve acquired while being a homeschool mom:
Homeschooling lifestyle has greatly improved my patience and people skills. Just like I do with my children, I often need to gently and clearly explain things to my clients and business partners, and repeat as many times as necessary. If my clients are confused or worried about something, I need to calmly reassure them that everything is fine. They need my consistent support and hand-holding when they are trying to understand a new process. With both children and clients, I sometimes need to remind myself to take a deep breath, slow down, stay calm, and be patient.
Ability to compromise and accommodate
Being a parent has taught me to negotiate, which is an essential skill in business. As a mom, I sometimes need to resolve tensions and tantrums, find and explain alternatives, know when to give in and when to stand my ground – in short, I’ve learned to pick my battles. Such ability to be flexible, to compromise and to accommodate also helps me during project planning or billing negotiations.
Ability to work out a process or a routine
Children benefit from repetition and a consistent routine: daily walk, rest hour, evening walk, storytime, bedtime. Being in the web design business for a while, I’ve discovered that clients benefit from the same thing. Parenting has taught me a valuable skill: ability to work out a consistent core process which streamlines my projects and which makes things easy for my clients to understand and to follow.
Ability to improvise and to handle last-minute changes
Of course, running a business and managing a project is not all about repetition; sometimes I have to accommodate last-minute changes to the project scope and deal with other unforeseen situations. And that’s when my parenting skills come to the rescue again: as every mom knows, raising small children requires ability to adjust to changes in mood, in schedules, and in routines, and a mastery of improvising on the fly.
Organizing time and workload efficiently is a must for every successful business owner. As a homeschool parent, I get a chance to practice and improve my organizational skills on a continuous basis when I have to schedule my household tasks, grocery shopping, children’s classes and activities, work responsibilities, and family time – and I must also make sure that there are no time conflicts, that everyone is comfortable, and that everything works seamlessly.
Ability to delegate and manage
As a parent and a homeschooler, I want my children to learn to handle responsibility. A good way to start is by delegating some household chores to them and by helping them to manage their duties and to schedule their tasks. Such experience of delegating chores to my children has improved my skills at managing my employees and distributing their workload.
It’s a necessity for both a mom and a business owner to develop and maintain a positive attitude, to withstand crises, and to stay optimistic. When my children whine, fight, talk back, and do other unpleasant things, I try to stay calm and positive, act constructively, and learn from the experience so that if my business faces a problematic situation, I have the right attitude to handle it successfully.
Time for reflection
Thanks to its emphasis on open-format lifestyle and self-directed learning, unschooling provides me with a unique opportunity for reflection and meditation. As an unschooling parent, I don’t hover over my children to make sure they learn their lessons – they do it naturally and on their own, so my role is mostly reduced to being a facilitator whenever they need my help. Even when I am away from home and cannot physically be in my office, allowing my children to play, learn, and explore freely gives me the time to think about my work, to reflect upon project challenges, to solve problems, to write drafts for my professional articles, and to come up with new business directions. Then I come back to my office with a fresh head and new ideas. Such meditation time away from my office proves to be just as important as the actual working time, because it gives me inspiration and fosters my creativity.
Homeschool parents don’t have schoolteachers to whom they can outsource their children’s education. Even though we often send our kids to classes and learning activities, we mainly have to rely on ourselves to teach our children, which means that we have to stay curious and to expand our own knowledge about many things we might have never known or forgotten since high school. Similarly, as a business owner and an entrepreneur I have to always teach myself new skills and stay on top of latest industry and business developments. Thanks to homeschooling, self-education is a second nature to me.
As a homeschool parent of young children, I cannot stay comfortable with one single learning method. I have to experiment, see what methods work and change those that don’t, offer a variety of activities to my children, expose them to a wide range of interesting, creative, and inspiring things, try something else if they lose interest, and observe and adjust to the changes in their learning styles and preferences. As an entrepreneur I have to constantly reinvent myself, improve my services, stay current with the market needs and trends, and come up with new business ideas. Homeschooling keeps me on my toes, so staying active and reinventing myself has become a habit in my business life as well.
If parents homeschool, it likely indicates that they have a vision and a purpose in mind – otherwise they would not have gone against the mainstream schooling tradition. The vision may be to raise their children in freedom, to teach them family values, or to give them an edge in life by allowing them the time and flexibility to explore things on their own. Similarly, it’s essential for an entrepreneur to plan the development of their business and to have short-term goals and a long-term vision of there they want to be and how they see their enterprise evolve and scale. We had started homeschooling early, and by the time I realized myself as an entrepreneur I already had the experience of defining the goals for my children’s education, which then helped me create a solid business plan for my own firm and to work out my long-term entrepreneurial vision.
I am happy and proud to be a homeschool parent and an entrepreneur simultaneously. I am often asked how I manage to run a business and to homeschool, but to me there is no contradiction here. Homeschooling and entrepreneurship are both essential parts of my life, they complement each other well, and together they create a perfect synergy and provide me with personal and professional enrichment and satisfaction.