Homeschool Effectively On a Shoestring Budget

Money is always a consideration when a homeschool parent looks into resources for their homeschool students. There are always surprise expenses that tend to throw the homeschool budget out of kilter each academic session. However that does not mean that the homeschool students will have to do without good study material. Here are some ways to homeschool effectively on a shoestring budget.

Don’t Buy, Borrow

When it comes to text books, buying new ones can prove prohibitively expensive. Instead of buying new books look for homeschool cooperative associations and libraries from where you can borrow them. Many such libraries allow you to keep books for a month or more. Use each subject text book to set the tone for the topic being studied and then move on to using other free resources.

Buy Second Hand

Not only are many homeschool parents looking to recover some of the money that they spent on textbooks, it also gives the next homeschooling family a financial cushion to be able to buy textbooks second hand. Keep in touch with parents whose children are in a grade higher than your own and ask them about selling their text books at the end of the academic session. This can be a major savings source.

Library Sales

Books that may not be in the best of states physically are often sold for a song by libraries. The material inside is still good. Check the condition of the books before you buy them to see that you can use them with your homeschool students. You can get a number of reference books at an extremely reasonable rate if you keep track of the local library sales.

Public School Giveaways

While you may not get exactly the sort of books you want your homeschool students to read, you can still pick up map books, encyclopedias, workbooks and other reference material at these giveaways. There is no harm in checking out what you can pick up for free or at really minimal costs. Make sure that you go through all the second hand books you get before handing them over to your children to use.

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The Emotional Cost of Homeschooling

While every homeschooling parent would like to pretend that the picture perfect classroom runs like clockwork everyday, we all know that it’s a fallacy. There will be good days just as often as there will be bad days in the homeschool classroom. The idea is to keep trying to gather as many good and productive days that you can with your homeschool students. However there are some emotional costs of homeschooling that a homeschool teacher may find difficult to pay.

Explaining Your Decision to Homeschool

Why do you homeschool your children when there’s a perfectly good public school near by?” This is one of the most energy draining questions that homeschooling parents have to deal with. Having to explain the rationale behind their decision to homeschool, and why they feel that it was a better choice for their children is a huge emotional cost. Even when you stand by your decision firmly, the mere fact that so many people seem to question your choice, can be difficult. It is one the single, most difficult things attached to being a homeschooling parent.

The Constant Supervision

When your children are being homeschooled, you never get a break. A parent whose child goes to regular school can enjoy the time off from supervising the children while they are being handled by teachers in school. A homeschool parent never gets that kind of time off. No matter how they are feeling, in good health, or sickness, with guests arriving for dinner, or grandparent’s dropping in for a quick visit, the homeschool parent is always responsible for their homeschool students. The only true break is when the spouse takes over for a while.

Struggling for Acceptance

While things are much easier now, since there is a higher level of awareness about homeschooling, the regular parents always struggle to accept homeschooling parents. To be a part of a group of parents in the neighborhood who are seen as some what strange or different for their decision to homeschool, is also a taxing emotional experience. They may like you as a person, but not be sure how to react to you or even how to socialize with you.

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The Cost of Homeschooling

There are many costs of homeschooling and not all of them are monetary. Here’s a look at what you will be spending when you take on the task of homeschooling your children. This post focuses on the possible monetary costs that you are likely to encounter on your homeschool journey.

The Curriculum and Text Books

These are the basics of providing an education in both the public school as well as the homeschool set up. You will end up buying books for your homeschool students for every grade and each subject that they need to study. This is a given.

Home Library and Internet Data

The reference data that you will need to teach all the subjects will come from one of two primary sources. Books and websites. You may choose to use your local library for the books but may still end up buying books that you refer to often. Similarly you can use the internet at the library, but it makes much more sense to get a good data plan and use the computer at home.

Professional Memberships 

There are homeschool associations, local support groups, legal support groups and homeschool cooperatives that all charge a minor amount as membership fees for all the help that they provide. Depending on the number of groups you join and the features you want available to you, you will have to make payments accordingly.

Standardized Testing

Many states have made standardized testing mandatory for the homeschool students. This allows the state education department to monitor the progress of these students in an unobtrusive way, as well as compare their performance to others in their peer group. These tests all have fees associated with them. Be prepared for these expenses by charting them out in advance.

Extracurricular Activities and Sports

Often a good way to socialize homeschool students is to make them join classes for crafts, arts, music and team sports. These can be as per the interest and talent that your homeschool student displays. As well as what is locally available for the child to attend. These classes will also bear a monetary cost.

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How Does a Homeschool Student Get a Diploma?

A High School Diploma is usually considered a must for admission into a college. It is a good idea to get in touch with a college counselor to get details of what kind of homeschool diploma will be acceptable to the college for admission purpose. For a homeschool student who may have completed the high school requirements at home, is it possible to get a formal diploma?

The most common practice for the parents to design and present the homeschool students with a diploma by themselves. In this case the homeschool is treated as an independent educational institution. The details include the name of the institution (i.e. the homeschool) issuing the diploma, name of the student,  city and state in which the diploma is issued, date, and a signature of the individual who has overseen the student’s education.

For some parents who may be associated with an online school or correspondence school, it may be possible to arrange a diploma from this educational institute as well. This will have the name of that specific school along with all the other details outlined in the passage above. It will be issued to the students who have enrolled for a specific course with the institute and have successfully completed it.

In extremely rare cases the parents may approach the local public school and ask about them issuing a high school diploma to their homeschool students. The educational institute will probably ask the student to undergo some testing in order to determine that the child is competent in the subjects that he or she is supposed to be graduating high school in. Usually this is not seen as public schools do not encourage homeschooling.

In some states it is possible for the homeschool student to obtain a high school diploma from the Department of Education. This is specially true of states where the homeschool parents must continuously update the department about the progress of their homeschooled children through the years. The years of transcripts and standard tests which are a must for this process serve as the basis of the allotment of the high school diploma.

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New Activities in the New Year

A fresh year, a fresh start. New ways to keep your homeschool students engaged and learning. As the homeschool children get back to their classroom in the new year, here are some activities that the homeschooling parent may like to consider.

Do More Hands-on Stuff

Get the homeschool student off their bums and working with their hands. This could mean doing more practical experiments, helping more around the more in regular chores, and even heading outdoors despite the weather being what it is. The idea is to ensure that they do less sitting, more walking and maybe even some running and playing. Just pick up any activity that interests your homeschooling family and run with it. The activity does not have to stay the same each week. Switch around stuff everyone enjoys. Ask the children for suggestions if you run out of stuff to do.

Start a Community Service Project

Teaching your homeschool students to give back to society can not start too soon. Think of what your immediate neighborhood could benefit from? Something small that even your children would be able to do. Set it up as a community service project with a couple of supportive neighbors whose kids can also get involved. Lead by example, so that your homeschool students see just how rewarding it can be to serve selflessly. It will reinforce many positive traits in their characters including the value of unity in action and love for their fellow man.

Focus on Specific Character Traits Per Homeschool Student

Think a bit about what each homeschool student could do better with. Can someone learn to be more economical in their purchases? How about teaching someone more humility in actions and words? Perhaps another child could do with some confidence boosting. Maybe someone needs to work on patience and diligence? The homeschool parent can pick up a single character trait for each child and design some activity to help them improve this trait. A little out of the box thinking in a creative manner will allow you to come up with many interesting ways to teach your children.

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Easing Back Into Homeschooling Post Holidays

The madness is over and so are the holidays. It’s time to get back into the homeschool classroom, but your homeschool students are not too comfortable with the idea of going back to school after so much fun and freedom. How do you make the transition back to regular school easy on them and on yourself? Here are a few ideas and tips that may help.

Start Off Small

Expecting your homeschool students to go from zero to hundred in the class is just not realistic after the holidays. There’s a little bit of a hangover left and it works best if you begin with a small topic or project on the first day back in school. The very act of completing the first project or assignment will set the tone for longer ones to come. The homeschool parent can go slowly up to the speed they were at before the holidays and the children will respond accordingly.

Don’t Stay Classroom Bound

Easing back into studies can be made fun by adding a field trip or an educational visit to a museum in the first week. It keeps the spirits of the young ones up and will be much easier than having them complete full worksheets in a timed manner. The natural enthusiasm for the outing will translate into field reports and have them back to writing in no time. This way you just ask them to extend the fun of the outing experience rather than make a painful book report.

Have a Half Day Thrown In

Give the children the glad tidings that midweek there will be a half day. On that day you can take them out to the mall, or maybe visit grandma if she stays in the same town. You may take them to an amusement park or simply go and play some sport. Feeling broke after the holidays? Just let them swing in the backyard. The only thing that you are not allowed to do is take an educational outing. It’s supposed to be a true half day holiday.

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Are You Raising Your Homeschooler Right?

Self-doubt is the worst affliction that a homeschool teacher can be afflicted with. There are so many people around you being negative about homeschooling that it’s difficult to keep telling yourself that you are doing the right thing. Questions such as  “Am I doing the right thing?” or  “Is my child getting all that he needs?” are usually floating through the minds of any new homeschooling parent. How do you deal with it? By asking yourself some tough questions.

What Are Your Reasons For Homeschooling?

Are you homeschooling your child for the right reasons? Is is because you want your child to have a good learning experience and to be able to grow into a well adjusted human being? Or are you simply trying to instill the correct moral values in your child that you find are lacking in the public school set up? Maybe you just think it’s cheaper to homeschool your children? What is the reason that turned you to homeschooling your children? Think about it. You will know if it’s a good one in your heart.

What Are Your Priorities?

No matter what your reason for homeschooling your child, do you make it a priority to ensure that the child is studying well?Does the child have age appropriate toys and books? If the child has enough to challenge him while he learns new things, it means that as a homeschool teacher you are doing a credible job. If he can hold his own in a conversation with peers and share his toys while playing, he’s adapting well to his social life.

What Values Are You Passing Down?

Does your child wish elders? Is he mindful of other people in the room when he’s playing loud music? Does he help with chores around the home? What are the messages that you send him with your own actions and words regarding correct values and morals?  No parent will try to willingly harm their child, and neither are you. Your New Year Resolution should be to have faith in the process. To know that you are doing your best and that your child is benefiting from your efforts.

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Organizing Your Homeschooling Classroom

No matter how hard you try, the holidays are likely to throw the schedule you have for your homeschool classroom out of kilter. While this is especially true for those who are new to homeschooling, most homeschool teachers will face this issue to some degree. This means that you need to reorganize what you will be teaching the next month to include what you have been unable to teach this month.

Since you will not be making too much progress with your homeschool students during this period of time, it can be used instead to get yourself more organized about the upcoming homeschool schedules post the holidays. Here are some things that you can do in advance to stay ahead of the game in January.

Get the Homeschool Classroom Cleaned Out 

There are a number of tasks that a homeschool teacher will put off on a normal school day. Now is the time to catch up with all that cleaning up. Go shelf by shelf and check what is no longer needed in the classroom. Collect the old worksheets and discard the ones that are not going into the children’s portfolios. De-clutter and make more storage space available.

Check Materials and Furniture 

Take a stock of all the arts and crafts material and see what supplies are running low. Make a list of all the stationery items that you are going to need, if possible place the order for delivery after the holidays. If the furniture needs to be cleaned out or painted, this is a good time to do so as the class is not is use. Painting the walls or wall papering is also an idea to consider.

Make Correction to Your Study Plans 

The lesson plans that you may have worked on at the beginning of the year may not be working out so well now that you are actually using them. Now is a good time to remake these plans with a healthy dose of reality thrown in. Add the extra days that you didn’t give yourself to make up work that is left out from previous classes.

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Possible Homeschool Field Trips in December

Sharing is Caring

The winter months can be a tough time for people who are less fortunate. By making your homeschool students aware that they can do something for such people, you give them a practical lesson in sharing is caring. Make a list of people who your family knows who could do with some brand of sharing. This could be in terms of time spent with the elderly who are lonely, or putting together a care package for students or military personnel in foreign countries, or even just gift wrapping toys for the local orphanage. Think up of new ways that they can share things as well as their time to show how much they care.

Possible Places to Visit

The local orphanage is a good place to visit during the holidays. Take along all the clothes that the homeschool students have outgrown. The books that no one seems to be reading anymore and the toys that have been sitting on the shelf without being played with in ages, are both good gifts to give away. Maybe make the time and effort to visit a local veteran center and perform a play to entertain them. One of the easiest things is to prepare a set of Christmas Carols and go singing them at locations such as the children’s hospital, the old age home, and even the orphanage. The idea is to spread some cheer in society.

What is Expected of the Children

Explain to the younger children about the concept of giving. How giving anything from a smile to a favorite old sweater away can bring joy to someone else in their life. Speak about how people less fortunate than the homeschooling family that they belong to deal with the harsh realities of life. It is never too early to develop compassion in your children. Make it a point to have them behave well with everyone they interact. Remember they should not feel that they are doing someone a favor, instead they should realize that it’s about giving back to the society that has already given them so much more than others their own age.

 

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Homeschooling with Deliberate Acts of Kindness

The holidays can be fraught with numerous activities and trying to schedule a regular homeschool day in the midst of Church activities, Christmas shopping, carol singing and gift exchanges can be difficult. Instead why not shift the focus during the holidays on other activities?

Slow Down the Formal Academics

It’s okay if you don’t hit the textbooks regularly during this time. Remember homeschool learning is pretty flexible. You can teach your homeschool students different subjects without ever opening a reference book. Use daily activities to instill good values and morals. Pick up on activities that teach them how to do something new, while staying away from worksheets and practice in the formal set up.

Start a Deliberate Acts of Kindness Routine

Advent calendars are a good way to reinforce kindness training. Have a small act of kindness written on top of the date and a small gift in the pocket below. The homeschool student needs to complete the act of kindness and have it approved before he can get his hands on the day’s gift. You will find them planning ahead and thinking up of ways to get the act of kindness done as soon as possible.

Teach Life Skills for Actual Living

Things like baking cookies, wrapping gifts, making handmade cards, addressing and posting the cards, decorating a tree with home made ornaments are all skills for life. Just because the children are helping the homeschool parent to get ready for the celebration doesn’t mean that they are not learning anything. They are being instilled with actual life skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Read Stories and Sing Songs

Set aside some time for just having a bit of fun. Yes there are a million little things that need your attention for the celebrations to be ideal, but you aren’t always going to have your children in the house with you. Have a story read out loud by the eldest sibling. Follow it up with some carol singing for just the family to have fun. Get into the true spirit of giving by giving your children some memories that will last them a lifetime.

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