It’s About Time is a blog series on time management. Join us as we take a peek into the lives of different homeschool moms all with a unique approach. Today, let’s meet Shantell, the Soloschooling Entrepreneur!
How I Homeschool, Work a Part-Time Job, and Run 3 Businesses
My name is Shantell Witter. I’m so glad to be joining you all on this series! Well, I know you want to skip the small chat and get to the meat and potatoes of this post so let’s dive right in….
I’m considered a newly transitioning #soloschooler – my term for being a homeschooling single parent. We’re on year two of our homeschooling journey. I have one kiddo- Julianna! My awesomesauce of a daughter is 8 years old. We learn 5- 6 days a week on a year-round schedule (with the 6th being a #catchupday).
When I’m not #soloschooling, I’m hustling up a storm with multiple streams of income and running three businesses. I have an active part-time job as a work-from-home, overnight IT professional, making sure to catch any work stoppages or outages for stores/vendors nationwide . However, in the day, I manage my personal businesses: The Academic Medics, The IT Academy, and Only With Love Books (coming soon in November 2020).
The Academic Medics is my tutoring, academic enrichment classes, and educational consulting business where I cater to both the traditional and homeschooling communities.
The IT Academy is a workforce development program that helps get post-high school graduates and adults trained and prepped for professional entry-level jobs and IT certifications.
Only With Love Books, is my latest venture, scheduled to open next month. It’s a multicultural and educational youth bookstore. It’ll be the only black-owned, independent bookstore here in Gwinnett County with a mission to feature and uplift the voices of characters and authors of colors (local and worldwide), as well as to bring affordable, diverse, and fun children books within our local community which currently doesn’t have a local book store.
Ask me how I do all that and homeschool? My answer will always be “by the Grace of God”!
Seriously… It’s a complex math equation, such as: the magic of time blocking, plus being an being an eclectic style #soloschooler, divided by hustling multiple businesses and working part-time, minus the lack of sleep, all to equal “by the Grace of God alone”. Hope that made you smile…
What’s your schedule like during the day?
Well, year two of homeschooling is completely different from year one, because I used to try and “recreate school” at home for her and realized that it didn’t work out for either of us. More than anything it really began to frustrate us and impact our relationship and homeschooling journey in a negative way. So at the 6 month mark I began a transition to the time blocking method which affords both of us breaks from the learning material, gives us flexibility in our day, and gives her the ability of choice (which she loves the most as she feels like she has an active role in her learning as well).
The time blocking method sounds interesting, could you explain your technique?
For homeschooling, I have 4-time blocks that I schedule into our day:
“Active & Engage”: the time block that she loves the most is where I instruct and teach her new concepts, conduct read-alouds, and guide her through challenging material for the day. This is a 2/2.5-hour mandatory timeblock that I choose to complete in the AM or in the late evening, depending on the day’s schedule.
“Read & Relax”: where she does a mix of independent reading from books of her own choice and completes guided reading assignments. I strongly believe the love of learning to read comes from allowing freedom of choice in reading, versus mandated reading. In this block, I sometimes even entertain her by building a fortress or “camp out” in our living room with snacks and a stack of awesome books. This is a 1-hour block.
“Independence & Balance”: where she completes any assignments that she didn’t complete from her “Active & Engage” session and/or any workbook lessons that I have assigned to her. This is a 1-hr block. This allows her to practice and build time management and study skills with little to no supervision.
“Explore & Fun”: where she gets to learn elective subjects, such as keyboarding/coding skills, foreign language, music, etc. or partake in special events like an Outschool class or do a field trip. This is a 1-hour block.
Sprinkled throughout the day are fun playdates, naps, scooter time at the park, and digital time on a tablet for Julie. Those aren’t necessarily time blocked activities, just fun things for her to do.
Love the names of those timeblocks. Could you paint us a picture of how you incorporate them into your day?
Sure, below is a sample of what I call My Homeschool & Hustle Schedule:
6:30 AM – 7:00 AM:
Wake up, do a Self-Love TREATment activity for myself, create Top 3 list of the day (planning & scheduling), meal prep/cook dinner, and cook breakfast.
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM:
Wake Julie up. We get ready, eat, exercise/meditate, complete prayers/Bible study, and complete a chore.
8:00 AM – 10:30 AM: “Active & Engage” Mandatory Block
Conduct active instructional lessons for homeschooling… STEM subjects/ read alouds/ etc.
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM:
Head to the office
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM: 1 – 2 Timeblocking Activities
Do multiple things such as business meetings, marketing, recording videos, etc. though most importantly continue on with my homeschooling timeblocks at the office with Julie. She selects which one- two timeblocks she wants to complete.
At the office, Julie has her own little corner where she completes her studies away from distractions, but she literally only used it once or twice… go figure! (LOL) Normally she’s all over in the tutoring office scribbling on whiteboards to work out her math problems, drawing/cutting up paper/coloring some form of art, or entertaining kids of other parents I collaborate with during business meetings. She nicknamed herself the “Head of Children Hospitality” with the responsibility to play with kids in the office, so there’s rarely a dull moment in her little world when being at the office.
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM: 1 – 2 Timeblocking Activities
I tutor students one-on-one and host classes for my enrolled students at The Academic Medics both virtually and in-person. While I’m doing that, she works on a timeblock or two of her choice here. After she finishes her timeblock(s) of choice, she joins in on the elementary school-aged academic enrichment class that I’m teaching the kids for that day. This allows her to also socialize with peers in her age range. A double win for me!!
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM:
Leave the office. We go to the park, partake in Wednesday night church service, or do a fun activity. Afterwards we head home, eat dinner, and prep for bed. Dinner is quick because all I must do is warm it up since I cooked it in the morning (#timesavingtip). She may have another timeblock that needs to be completed during this time, however she usually strives to manage her time throughout the day so that she can have TV or YouTube time instead. She goes to bed at 9 PM.
When she’s in bed, I begin my shift for my overnight job of being the IT superhero until about 1- 2 AM. It’s a relaxed job that I do only on the weekends, so I’m not too much of a zombie during the week (lol). It has been a true blessing to me and my family. It also allows me to continue finishing up any remaining business that I didn’t get a chance to complete at the office, destress/woo-sah, schedule out my week, and/or complete grading Julie’s papers (yes, I grade to monitor her independent study work- the substitute teacher in me still exists). After my shift I go to sleep and repeat the process all over again the next day.
Whew, that’s a lot! What would you advise another entrepreneurial #soloschooler like yourself?
IKR, and it kind of is, however it’s only for a season. I know next year it will probably look even more different (in the relaxed sense), as I’ll have staff members on board by then, so I continue to press on.
To any #soloschoolers who hustles both their own business and a job, my single bit of advice is to follow the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer:
“to accept the things we can’t change,
to be encouraged to change the things that you can,
and to have the wisdom to know the difference”.
You might be in a season of hustle that makes no sense to anybody else on how you’re managing or plan to do it all and I want you to know that you aren’t crazy or alone. There is a community of homeschooling single parents that are doing the very same thing with a specialized twist to it. If possible, I encourage you to try to find and connect with a group like Hip & Single Homeschooling Moms, so you don’t have to feel ashamed, discouraged, or insecure about how you juggle it all out.
Bottom line is: Stay balanced, stay focused, and know that by homeschooling and growing your business, you’re kids are going to learn two important things: amazing work ethic and that they have a loving parent that invested in them and their family’s success.
Shantell has always had a passion of giving back to her community. After having been blessed with the opportunity to get into the it industry as a career changer but a mere 5 years ago, she decided to create an easier pathway for others looking to either get into the industry and/or advance in their careers by creating a tech training/certification program.
When she isn’t found instructing classes, she is busy being a homeschool mom of one, a lover of ballroom dancing, and a board game fanatic. Be sure to hide your monopoly game from this lady.
If you’d like to connect with Shantell, please follow her on social media for events and/or to support our local businesses:
The Academic Medics
Instagram: @theacademicmedics (The Academic Medics LLC)
Our Personal Homeschool Adventures and Family Fun Page:
YouTube: The SoloSchooler