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Friday, May 15, 2009

Homeschooling on a Budget

Other than the "what about socialization" issue and parents who just think they could never homeschool their own children, the next biggest concern is "how much will it cost?"

While I hear the averages are about six hundred dollars a year per student, I know it can be done, and done well for near free with a library card or even an old set of encyclopedia. THIS story is a perfect example. Whether or not you homeschool, or are even considering, at least take time to read the article. It is amazing.

This year and looking forward to next, I find myself on a pretty tight budget for homeschool materials. I find encouragement in the above article whenever I question if I can do this well with so little. The above article could probably teach the government ran schools a thing or two as well. They spend thousands to over ten thousand per student, and yet many students aren't passing the state standardized testing even close to the 50% percentile. Meanwhile this little girl who should be in seventh grade is testing at a twelfth grade level and has never had any formal learning beyond that set of old encyclopedias.

I have used Sonlight Curriculum for years. It covers our History, read a louds, and reading/literature. I have strayed a few times, only to return back. It is a rather pricey program compared to others which offer textbooks or worktexts. But with Sonlight not only are you getting a high quality education, but building your own home library with books that will be enjoyed over and over again. Years I have had to sell some of our Sonlight books for much needed money and the kids have actually cried!(I wont EVER do that again, Lord willing!) I highly recommend if you can to buy the whole package, as it really is much simpler to have all the books there when you need them, and in the long run usually much less pricey than buying them one at a time from another retailer....BUT, I have found myself this year and next unable to do just that. Not willing to compromise on another curriculum, I have found a way around this, although I will be honest and say it is difficult at times.

The library and Paperback Swap. I have bought/try to buy the instructors guide either used or straight from Sonlight, then I use paperback swap for as many books as I can, and fill in the rest with the library. Is this the way I'd like to do it? No, it's not perfect, but it allows me to use the curriculum that works best for my family in a way we can afford.

I also use both the library and Paperback Swap for extras and videos to enrich our curriculum.

For math for one child I use Math U See and have yet found a way to get it any other way than full price, but the cost is reasonable. For another child we use the ACE Paces, and because money is tight, we only buy three paces at a time. This makes it rather affordable!

Science and English like Math, we buy what we need to, haven't found much way to save. With Science you can use the Internet, do nature studies, or pick up some inexpensive workbooks from Evan Moor and add your own experiments with ideas from the Internet.

For handwriting and spelling, I have been making our own lessons for the past couple of years. For handwriting we use a software called Startwrite. I really like this because for one low price you have a custom made curriculum to last for grades K-12 for not only hand writing but copy work assignments and more. This program is one of my top picks for sure!

For spelling I make a list of 10-20 words per week, then on Monday they take a practice test and write each word. Tuesday they look each word up in the dictionary and write the definition out on their paper. Wednesday, they write each word properly used in a sentence. Thursday they find the word in a word search(I found a free download years ago) Friday is test day! Each day they have practiced with a software program as well. In the past I have used Spelling Made Simple and been quite pleased. I plan on trying another soon called SpellQuizzer and will review it here when I do. These programs look similar although with the one I have yet to try, it appears much more customizable. I know with the other, it makes quizzing and drilling the kids so much easier than just practicing with them ourselves, plus they seem to enjoy it very much! All the extra practice really helps the words sink in and stay in their memory.

For Bible we use a very unusual idea....we use the Bible!! I see no need to spend tons of money on a fancy pre-made curriculum that may or may not even line up with your families personal beliefs. We just start at the beginning and work our way through, when we're done, we start over again. We do use Children's Bibles for the younger children, just because I prefer the wording for some of the more sensitive areas. We do also use Luther's Small Catechism and study a new hymn each month, using the hymn for our copy work assignments.

As money permits we add in extras for enrichment such as Evan Moors History Pockets or lap book kits from Hands of a Child that match what we're studying in History.

As the story in the beginning proves, homeschooling can be done for free or even much less than I've laid out here. These are my bare essentials for where we are now financially. If things stay as they are or worsen, then I may have to cut back more. But homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive at all to be effective.

If you're ever feeling discouraged that you can't homeschool well on a tight budget, print out that article and read it! It really keeps me motivated and encouraged, if he can do all of that, homeless with nothing more than some encyclopedias, we can all certainly do well with what we have been blessed with!

1 comment:

Henry Cate said...

Please consider submitting something to the Carnival of Homeschooling.