Real-Life Home-Educating

A friend of mine and I were having coffee the other day (really strong coffee in the middle of the day, no less!), just chatting about our kids and homeschooling and all of that.  A lady at the table beside us was obviously eavesdropping, and after she paid her bill, she came back to our table.
“I couldn’t help overhearing you talking about homeschooling.  I have felt the pull to home-school my children for 3 years, they are now 9 and 8, but everyone I talk to tells me how expensive it is and how hard it is.”
“Oh, girl,” says I, “you need to talk to some real-life homeschooling moms!  It is neither expensive nor difficult.  I mean, some days are challenging, but so are days when you are working a job or running a business.”
“I have been talking to other homeschooling moms,” She said.  “They’ve told me that they spend $500 – $1000 a year. And there are weeks that they are just in tears trying to keep their kids on track and their houses are a wreck and their husbands aren’t happy…”

Wow!  I stood up and hugged her (to keep from crying or laughing out-loud).  “We are starting our 9th year of teaching our kids at home, and if you combined all the books and supplies I have bought for school over those 9 years, it wouldn’t equal $500.  Yeah, sometimes my house is a wreck.  Sometimes I want to flush my kids’ heads in the toilet.  Sometimes I wrack my brain trying to remember how to divide fractions.  But, dang!  It is so worth it.”

We don’t offer our kids a cut rate education.  They are getting the best, because they are getting me. HA!  Not that my brain is the best, but my love for them  is the best.  No one else in the world cares as much about my kids learning as I do.  We can explore and search and learn all they are interested in.  We can surge ahead or slow down as needed.  We can field trip to our hearts’ content.  And WE DON’T NEED A JACKED UP CURRICULUM TO DO IT!  HA!

Some ways to save:

  • Ask Family members for specific gifts that fit the needs of your children and their education:
    Memberships to local zoos, Nature Centers, Museums, etc.; Horseback Riding Lessons; A Kindle; A series of books your child wants/needs; tickets to a play or ball game.  Our extended family has been curious and supportive on this journey.  They really like to feel a part of our kids’ education, and appreciate when I recommend something specific.

    Horse-back Riding lessons were a big hit this Spring
  • Get a Kindle (or tablet of your choice).  ALL, and I do mean ALL, of our kids’ literature books on FREE on the Kindle.  This is true not only for the coming year, but throughout middle and high school.  ALL.
  • Join a local Home-School Support Group.  These groups often have book sales and lending libraries. You will build relationships with other parents and talk about what is working for them;  borrow and lend books; plan trips together; share your experiences and encourage one another.
  • Join a group-learning or co-op group.  Each parent can teach the group something they are passionate about!  In our co-op group, Allison teaches American History; Krista teaches Science; I teach Sign Language; Natalie does craft projects that support the learning in History.  Janelle has wee ones ones, so she tends them while the others are learning. We are an informal group that has been together for 4 years.  Our kids now range in age 2  – 15 years old, and they enjoy the benefits of long-term friendships.  We eat lunch together each week.  We laugh and play and encourage each other… and the kids do too. 🙂  My Co-Op group has been one of the greatest assets to our home-schooling experience to this point.

    Some of the kids from our Wonderful Co-Op
  • Shop the Back-To-School sales at the end of summer and grab up a pile of spiral bound notebooks, pencils, glue, tape, crayons, etc.  I spent less than $20 at the beginning of the school year and have needed to buy nothing else this year.  I am not crafty, so I don’t spend money on doing crafty things, as some of my peers do.

There are folks that spend big bucks on curriculum, books and supplies.  But they don’t HAVE to do it.  They CHOOSE to do it.   Their kids aren’t smarter/faster/cuter/less smelly… they just use a different means of educating their kids. If you are currently home-schooling, I encourage you to not put a burden on those considering doing the same.  One does not need to spend big bucks to teach their kids at home.  You may choose to do that, but don’t pass that yoke on to another.

We use a Classical Approach to education.  Lots and lots of good, classic books.  We teach the kids to think and find information.  We teach them to reason and apply scripture.  We memorize a whole lot.  But more, so much more, we love.  We love being together; we love learning together; we love traveling together; we love discovering together.  We love.

If you are feeling the pull to home-school, but are afraid of the costs.  Don’t be.  You don’t have to spend a dime more than you would buying supplies to send your kids to school.  You may have a messy house from time to time, but who doesn’t?  You may have days (or weeks) when you feel like nothing is getting through (like algebra!).  But I experienced that a million times more in my career life than I do in my home-school life.

Be encouraged.  You don’t have to be brilliant, rich or Super-Mom to teach your children at home.  Just look at me! HA!

5 thoughts on “Real-Life Home-Educating

  1. This is a very helpful post. I didn’t know so many books were for free on a Kindle. As for you other expenses I think many families spend much more than that for their kid’s education in public school. It is not uncommon for my friend to spend $50 at a craft store buying required materials for her child’s diorama, or to be asked for party supplies that ring up to over $20. Field trips are not free for public school kids. Homeschoolers on the other hand get to choose what is worth the expenditure for their learning needs.

  2. Amber Neal

    Totally agree with you! I spend very little and most of the time nothing on curriculum. the library knows my family as the ones who come in with a laundry basket full of books each week. Sometimes it may take a little more planning but I know its worth it! Great article!

  3. Sherri Murr

    Great tips! There are so many inexpensive or free resources for homeschoolers that for many families it really is less expensive than public school. As if we need another reason to homeschool 🙂 You’re absolutely right – our kids are getting the best because regardless of how good a public school teacher is, we know how to teach our children better than anyone else. Thanks for the post.

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