Support for PBS Parents provided by:

  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Nature Cat
  • Odd Squad
  • Ready Jet Go
  • Peg + Cat
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Bob the Builder
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Arthur
  • Martha Speaks
  • WordGirl
  • Sesame Street
  • The Electric Company
  • Cyberchase
  • Between the Lions
  • Caillou
  • Chuck Vanderchuck
  • Oh Noah
  • Fetch!
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Mister Rogers
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • SciGirls
  • Wilson & Ditch
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM



Part-Time Homeschooling

Girl with worksheetThough homeschooling often seems like an all-or-nothing endeavor, a small group of “part-time” or “partial” homeschoolers is proving it doesn’t have to be. Parents engaged in partial homeschooling may opt to teach just one subject at home, or teach most core subjects at home but send their child to school for “special” subjects like art or music. The sky is the limit—just as long as the local school is open and flexible.

For Victoria van der Laan, partial homeschooling means that her eight-year-old daughter Tigerlily attends a local “nontraditional” charter school three days a week and stays home for one-on-one learning the other two days. Van der Laan, who lives in Albany, New York, began the arrangement in September 2011. Her daughter had been enrolled full-time in school. But van der Laan began to worry that she was lagging in reading and math skills, so worked with the school to develop a schedule that would allow them to concentrate on those subjects. So far the experience has been positive: “Taking a bit of time from the 30 hours a week she spends at school to do some home learning has really worked for us. I don’t feel like the whole burden of her education is on my shoulders, and I can focus on the areas where she needs extra help or the topics we’re both really excited about,” explains van der Laan.

Laura Brodie of Lexington, Virginia, describes herself as a “short-term” homeschooler. She chose to homeschool her daughter, Julia, full time for fifth grade. The following year, Julia returned to the local public school. When Julia reached ninth grade, Brodie, an English professor at Washington and Lee University, decided to homeschool again—but this time, only for English class. So Julia enrolled in the local high school full time, but instead of signing up for freshman English, she added an extra elective. English class takes place at home, where Brodie takes care of assigning books and grading papers.

“Parents need to know that homeschool[ing] versus [the] private and public school option is not an either/or choice,” says Brodie, the author of Love in a Time of Homeschooling. But while she enjoys part-time homeschooling, she acknowledges that it’s not an option for all parents; arranging a part-time schedule depends a lot on the flexibility of the local principal and school system.

T.J. Schmidt of the Home School Legal Defense Association agrees that when it comes to partial homeschooling, the state a family lives in is key: states like Washington and Virginia, which receive funding for part-time students, are generally more amenable to working out a part-time homeschool schedule than those that don’t. “Most public school officials [in those states] love it when you have a student who’s taking three or four classes,” says Schmidt.

Educational consultant Deborah Ruf, Ph.D., wishes that more states were open to part-time homeschooling. Ruf, who advises the parents of profoundly gifted children with her consulting firm Educational Options, says that partial homeschooling allows parents to “become the manager of the child’s education.” Though she works primarily with gifted students, Ruf emphasizes that partial homeschooling can also help children who are struggling in school—especially those who need extra attention in a subject that a teacher is unable to provide.

Ruf recommends that parents who are interested in partial homeschooling work out a schedule in which the child spends part of the morning working at home with the parent, then attends school for the late morning and afternoon—that way the child gets the continuity of a five-day-a-week school schedule. But van der Laan says that the three-day-a-week school schedule she has for Tigerlily has worked out well so far: “We check in with her teacher each week to make sure she’s not missing out on anything special happening at school and adjust our schedule accordingly.”

Van der Laan initially planned to do part-time homeschooling until Tigerlily’s reading and math skills improved, but she’s enjoying it so much that she’s likely to continue indefinitely. “Partial homeschooling is really the best of both worlds,” she explains. “It’s your chance to foster a love of learning in your child without the weight of his or her entire education on your shoulders.”

  • Pingback: Partial Homeschooling . Education . PBS Parents | PBS

  • Justina Jones

    I have an older sister, Elizabeth. I was born on January 24, 1987.  I had thoughts that my older sister, Elizabeth would come visit me. My cousin John has an older brother, Matthew. I attended Arbor Station Elementary School for four years. I wanted to do school at home instead of Arbor Station. My older sister, Elizabeth, was born on January 15, 1985. Miss Holt was my second grade teacher. Mrs. Rigdon was my first grade teacher.

  • Wilma Washington

    I am a twenty-five-year-old woman. I have an older sister, Elizabeth. Miss Holt was my second grade teacher. Ms. Conforti was my third grade teacher. Mrs. Rigdon was my first grade teacher. My older sister attended Arbor Station Elementary School from 1990 to 1996. I was born in 1987. I attended Arbor Station Elementary School from 1993 to 1997. My older sister was born in 1985. My cousin John has an older brother, Matthew. Mrs. Chaffin retired in 1995. My older sister, Elizabeth, got a 3.9 average in high school and graduated in 2003.

  • Pingback: Time homeschooling | Ztinfo

  • Stephanie Cesko

    Can you home school sporadically?

  • Margaret Hardy

    Excellent advice. We do part time homeschooling with our 7th and 10th grader. It has opened a whole new world for them that is very positive.

  • KD

    Love this article! I do not have children yet but think that this would be the best route in the future. Glad to see it is an option, at least in some districts.

  • Afterschool Homeschool

    In the end, it doesn’t matter whether kids are full-time, part-time, or After-school Homeschooled. The responsibility falls on the parents to ensure the success of their unique children.

    It is so refreshing to see parents unafraid to look at all options and to pave a way if necessary!

  • DanOOOO

    No date on this article nor can I tell how to contact the writer. Just an FYI – the best source of information on homeschooling in WA (called Home-based Instruction) is from the oldest statewide homeschool organization: Washington Homeschool Organization has been around for nearly 3 DECADES. They are on FB as well.

  • Helen GL

    I have been thinking about this but didn’t even know it existed until I googled it and saw this article. I’m super excited to see others have done this successfully.

  • Malynda

    No part time homeschooling program in our area : ( I have been looking. No programs close to us allows this, oh how I wish they did. I’m homeschooling my son (turning 9) full time right now. We live in San Leandro, CA in case anyone knows a program around that does this.

  • Cintia Lima

    I truly believe that the best education is done at home (whether you can homeschool part-time or full-time)

    Classical Conversations is a great program for homeschooling your child, and they only meet once a week, but you can certainly do it on a part-time basis.

    I would also recommend the book “The Well-Trained Mind” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. It’s an excellent resource for everything you will need to homeschool part-time or full-time.

    There are lots of free resources online that you can use if you decide to homeschool part-time without a program.

    Here are a few resources:
    For younger children: (all subjects)
    For older children: (you can search by subject)

  • Hopeful

    Im a single mom living in NYC. The city that serves as a “grind” for any single parent working full time 9-5. Unfortunately part-time home schooling is not an option for me without the cost of absence control enforcements from my job and loss of pay. I would jump at the chance of PT home schooling if it didn’t come with such high stakes. My son’s brain is on fire right now. The stresses of getting up at 5:30 am to wait for a school bus then ride 3 hours to and from school after an 8hr class instruction that compresses critical concepts of Math, Science, English and History (40 minutes each). So lets do the math…40 mins each in these sujects which comes out to 2 hrs and 40 mins of core subject learning that should be taught more slowly requiring weeks to understand the concepts; especially in math and science. Math and Science requires more repetion so a child has the opportunity to develop stronger skills in these subjects. So if he has an 8hr day my son is truly getting robbed of the necessary skills to become a stronger student to do well in school. Dont forget he spends 15 hrs a week on a bus traveling to school on a route from his home that would normally take 20 minutes a day 1-way. There’s some serious problems here! No wonder people are opting out to home school but with serious financial burdens. The right to home school my child on a part-time basis (which is what I want to pursue for now) is not an option without red tape from my city while my right to earn a living that would leave to poverty has no options. In order to provide your child with a better education, it will have to come with self inflicted days of hunger due to lost wages and possible foreclosure or eviction. Does any single parent, attorney, activists, state legislatures here me? Where’s the happy medium? Or is it just that money and politics are too strong of a voice in this city that gives parents no hope for my child’s academic success? My son and I need help in the worst way.

Sign up for free newsletters.

Connect with Us

PBS Parents Picks

  1. Wild Kratts image

    Wild Kratts App Teaches Young Children How to Care for Animals

    In this app, kids are charge of feeding, washing, and playing with baby animals.

  2. Curious Kids image

    How (And Why) To Encourage Curiosity

    "...when people are curious about something, they learn more, and better."

  3. Gardening Benefits image

    The Benefits of Gardening With Kids

    Don’t let the idea overwhelm you. A few containers and soil in a sunny spot will do.