Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Homeschool for Free (or at least, more inexpensively)

When we lived in Florida, I was the "Homeschooling Liason" for the School Board office in the county we lived in. Basically, that's a fancy way of saying that my phone number was on the paperwork you were handed when you expressed an interest in homeschooling. That meant that I received quite a few phone calls from folks who knew almost nothing about homeschooling.

If I were to ask you what you think the most commonly asked question was, you would possibly guess the standard, "What about socialization?" query. No. That's not it. Given another guess, you might think it would be the usual, "I don't know how I can homeschool. I don't have a degree in education/I don't have that sort of patience/I don't know where to start..." sort of thing. No. Not that either.

Actually, the most commonly asked question was, "How can I afford to homeschool? Doesn't it cost an awful lot of money?" That question is what prompted me to start my homeschool-for-free website. It is a work in progress at this point, with five children still at home, four of whom I am homeschooling this year. I want it to eventually be a place where almost anyone can go and find usable resources to teach almost any subject. Right now there is a lot of content on my site (I especially like the Science Links page), but not nearly as much as I hope for there to be when I consider it complete.

So this week's question, "How can I save money on homeschooling?" is right up my alley. There are a myriad of ways to save money while homeschooling, and I have quite a few suggestions for you, so go get a cup of tea (I prefer Earl Grey, how about you?) before you settle in and get ready to take some notes...I have a lot to cover! (when do I not write a lot? lol.)

How to Homeschool-for-Free
(Or at least, more inexpensively)

 20+ Ideas for lowering your homeschooling expenses in today's tight economy...

1. Borrow, don't buy, your books and supplemental materials. I know, books are nice (you should see my house---I am a book junkie) BUT they can be expensive. If this is the year you are on a very tight budget, then try one of these ways to obtain the books you need:

     *Use your library. Develop a good working relationship with your local librarian. Find things to praise them about FIRST, then ask for a few things you notice are missing that you need. Most libraries do interlibrary loans, so you can borrow books they do not have from other libraries. The lending period may be shorter, but the potential is there. Many libraries really listen to patrons when ordering books. Ask for what you need most (or for what is most expensive) and see if they can purchase it. Some libraries have software you can borrow, an educator's section, or even activity bags you can check out centered around a theme or a local attraction (ours has adventure bags for local historical sites).

     *Libraries not only have books, they carry audio materials such as books on tape/cd and music cds, video materials (both fiction and non-fiction), they may have language programs available online for free, they likely have language tapes to check out, and don't forget your library's summer and school-year programs that are almost always FREE!!

     *You can also find out if there is a Bookmobile and see if it can visit somewhere near your house once or twice a month. Often, Bookmobile checkouts do not carry fines for overdues, and I know personally how much money THAT can save. You can usually request the books and videos you want online, and the bookmobile will deliver them to the site you ususally visit. We are blessed to have the bookmobile come to our house...you could try getting a few families to commit to joining you and see if you can host a bookmobile stop, too!

     *In some communitites, the public schools will offer check out privileges to homeschoolers and mothers of preschoolers. You might look into this and see if there is a similar policy where you live. In Florida, they offered check out of textbooks with the Principal's approval.

     *What if your library is not willing to order the sorts of books you would like your own kids to read? Check around town and see if there are any larger churches with libraries who are willing to allow checkouts to homeschooling families. Also, you can see if your local or state homeschool group has any sort of lending library that they maintain. This might be the best place to get those books about homeschooling that you have wanted to read for a long time.

     *Team up with a friend who has kids of a similar age (or older) and who likes the same curriculum you do. Agree to buy half of the needed items each and swap halfway through the year, or start at different times and share. If your friend has older kids, she might agree to lend you last year's materials...as long as you give them back. It is important to be a trustworthy borrower if you want curriculum sharing to work. Your friend might also agree to sell you her older items at a deep discount if her youngest is too old to use them in the future.

     *Another thought is that you might find a friend or acquaintance who is willing to barter books they have that you need for products or services you can provide. Maybe your friend has the entire Sonlight 4 curriculum and her youngest student is in fifth grade. Will she barter that curriculum against piano lessons for a few months to see if her student is really serious?

2. When you must buy, buy used, not new. Just as with cars, your new books depreciate a lot once you take them home from the bookstore. With most books, people are not willing to pay more than 50-70 percent of the original price for them (of course, there are a few luxury models that still command the big bucks!), so why shouldn't you take advantage of that and purchase your own books used?

     *Shop at used curriculum sales and used book sales, such as the one at your library. Does your homeschooling support group host a book sale/swap every year? If not, why don't you start one? Find a free or inexpensive location, make renting a table cost effective, and get the word out. If you plan it, they will come. Book swaps usually work with a coupon method. You bring what you have and get coupons for the assessed amount and use those towards "purchasing" stuff you need. Your state convention may have a curriculum sale as part of their meeting once a year. Sell what you have there and use what you make to get what you need for next year.

     *Find a used homeschool bookstore withing driving distance, make a list of what you couldn't get for free, by swapping, or borrowing, and plan a day trip. Even if the store is a few hours away, if you wind up your purchases for the year (and maybe plan a bit of sightseeing...field trip!) it will be worth the gas it cost to get there. This is the place to go if you just can't make a decision about what curricula you DO want to spend your money on. Leave the kids with a sitter (barter your time) and browse to your heart's content. Just make sure you stick to your budget and plan because it is easy to see SO MANY things that are just such good bargains it almost seems a shame to pass them up. Believe me, I know. If you really have it together, you might even be able to take some of your old, unwanted books to sell and get store credits to use on "new" stuff.

     *Quick tip: Just make sure that when you purchase that great math, science, or history book for a bargain price that the answer key is available, too. Otherwise, you will have a really looooong year (and get very good at one or all of those subjects!)

     *Thrift stores and flea markets often have a book section (and an audio visual section). I have found some wonderful resources for very little money (and clothes, too) at my local Goodwill and DAV stores. Yardsales in the summer can also be a place you can find books you can use to build up your home library. A thrift store or used furniture store is a good place to start the hunt for a child's desk or shelving unit for your classroom. (I recently got a very heavy and sturdy tall metal filing cabinet for just ten dollars). Think USED, not full price (no matter how many times Haynes Furniture Store has the BEST SALE EVER with no financing until 2025....used is still cheaper!!)

     *The only places I really buy new are Walmart during their pre-school-year-really-cheap-boxes-of-24-crayons event (okay, that's not what they call it, but that's why I go) and the Dollar Tree (though I have heard places like Staples and others have great deals sometimes, too). Certain products (such as mechanical pencils...Papermate can't be beat and crayons...go Crayola) can't be compromised on, but who cares who made your ruler or notebook or folder or erasers?

     *Check out Freecycle.com, Craigslist.com, and Vegsource.com These are listing services for products people want to give away or sell. Do you need a child's desk for your son's room? Try freecycle in your local area. You might get more than you imagined you could ever affort for FREE!! (I once got a dozen NICE puzzles for my grandpa with Altzheimers, and a nearly new jogging stroller...I gave away a birdcage and an old cast iron kitchen sink...a friend of mine got a flute). Need a microscope for Biology 101? Try craigslist, a local classified service and find a treasure nearby. Need MOH volume 1? Try vegsource (or even Amazon) and find a copy for just $3 plus shipping!

     * When I lived in Florida, our county had a Used Book Repository for the school system. If you were a registered homeschooler, you were allowed to go in and pick out as many books as you wanted for FREE! (even sets of old encyclopedias, complete series' of textbooks with tests and teacher's manuals) They also had old student desks, equipment (I got an overhead projector for five dollars), and other furniture for low cost. You might consider calling your area and finding out if there is such a building in your school division.

     *Discards: Also, my mom taught for 32 years and at the end of each year, the librarian and teachers who were changing grades or leaving would put loads of stuff they did not want on a table in the hall. If it wasn't picked up by the last day, it got thrown out. Get friendly with the school counselor or a teacher and let them know you are interested in discards. You never know what you might get (I got a huge room-sized rug, a filing shelving unit, several great games, a bunch of NICE play food and costumes, and a set of readers this year.)

     *One more bargain place to shop that I really like is a Children's Consignment Store. I am blessed to have an AWESOME one at the end of my rural road (how convenient is that?) and they have a great educational materials section. I check there a few times a year and get a few new fun things for the kids on the cheap. They also have a $.50 rack and I can buy oversized shirts inexpensively to use as smocks for art time, or to cut up for projects, not to mention they make wonderful and cheap play clothes!
3. Take advantage of community free and nearly free activities.

     *Buy a planner calendar and start writing in all the wonderful free events your community sponsors and you may realize that you don't have time for it all, let alone for activities that cost a bundle. In our community, we have an annual Daffodil Festival, a chalk drawing competition, a quilting expo, a crafting fair, a renaissance faire, several reenacting events (one revolutionary, one civil war), car shows, garden week, fishing competitions, a county fair with the usual contests, a Greek festival, and much more. Within an hours drive are a strawberry festival, a waterman's festival, a pirate festival, a harborfest, an oyster festival, art shows, music in the park, movies outdoors on a big screen, craft shows, a children's fair, a peanut festival, and much, much more (especially in the summer and around holidays).

     *There are also activities offered at the public library such as the summer reading club (with free books), a chess club, the Master Gardeners (who are always willing to share their knowlege), a book club, a knitting club, a quilting club, a speaking club, a classic car club, a remote control plane club, and more...all free (well, if you pursue becoming a master gardener yourself, there is a fee for classes).

     *Your local Parks and Recreation service likely offers classes with topics ranging from flower arranging to genaeolgy. Not every class they offer will be free, but the prices for these classes will be lower than what you would pay to a normal instructor. Let your kids look through their flyer at the beginning of the school year and pick something special and new they want to learn, or perhaps to find a class on a skill they want to perfect, such as photography. Give them opportunities to "earn" the fee by doing jobs around the house. This frees up your time, potentially saves you money, and they will appreciate the class all that much more having earned it.

     *Boy Scouts is still a pretty good bargain and offers many good activities. You can become active in the group, if you feel you need to monitor content. The Boy Scout manuals are an excellent inexpensive source for unit studies on a myriad of topics, even if you decide not to join a group. You can find these at scouting stores and online.

     *If Boy Scouts is too expensive for you, try a Christian program, Keepers of the Faith. For the price of just the book, you can start a club at your church. They have a boys' club called Contenders of the Faith and a girls' club called Keepers at Home. Both clubs have books with units and projects in them, much the same as the Boy Scouts do, only with a Christian undertone (or really, an overtone), and with respect to the differing roles of men and women.

     *4-H is a very inexpensive way to learn new country-oriented, speaking, and leadership skills. Often there will be a homeschoolers 4-H club in an area. Our old 4-H club in Florida also used to let homeschoolers go through the room where they kept their unit studies and take what they wanted for free (once you paid the very low yearly fee to join). I think all of the unit studies are archived online and you can print them up for free.

     *And of course, most churches have children's and youth programs such as Awana, that are still fairly inexpensive. Some will even have scholarships for folks with financial challenges. Some offer daycare for younger siblings so mom can help, or happen during regular Wednesday church meetings when adult classes are being held, so mom gets a break and a chance to learn, too. 

4. Barter and swap:

     *There may be skill sets you want your children to acquire that you just don't have. This is when you need to try the old fashioned method of bartering. You may think you don't have anything anybody wants, but I'll bet you do. Let's say you really want to teach your daughter to can fruit, but you don't know how. Find a friend who knows how, provide the cans and the fruit (even cheaper if you have a fruit tree/bush or go to a "you pick" place), and she will provide the needed equipment and knowlege. You split what is made and you both come out ahead! Or maybe you have a horse you hardly have time to ride, and a friend who plays the piano with a daughter who loves horses. Can you swap riding lessons for piano lessons? It's a win/win situation!

      *Remember, the swaps don't have to be 100 percent monetarily equitable, they just have to meet a need or want that exists. Be creative. Put up notices at church and in your support group newsletters. Pray about it and God will provide.

5. Use the internet. Thanks to many wonderful individuals who wish to share the lessons they have compiled, you can find LOADS of free and inexpensive downloads and learning games on the internet. Homeschoolshare, Lapbooklessons, CurrClick, and Homeschool Freebie of the Day are a few of my favorites. You can find even more choices, including complete textbooks and year-long programs by visiting my site, homeschool-for-free.

     *A site with a small fee ($20 per year), but worth the investment, especially if you have pre-schoolers, is Enchanted Learning.

     *Really, there is a lot on the internet FOR FREE...You can find entire classes on You Tube from colleges all over the US. There are entire books on the Guttenburg Project site, both in print and audio form in many languages. As long as the teaching parent puts in the time to preview the sites/links for appropriateness, this is a resource to not miss. Check out my site homeschool-for-free to find pre-screened links you can use TODAY!

     *Did you know: You can also organize your student's internet links and sites online just by making a free blog on a site like blogger. You can post favorite links to useful content and educational games, notes and instructions to your child, pictures of projects, copies of written work, and you can make it a private blog that is password protected if you like. If your student is old enough, ask them to help you figure it all out and make it a family project...it will be a learning experience for all of you.

6. Use your television and car/home stereo judiciously. They are wonderful tools, but not without pitfalls (overuse, un-Christian content, etc.).

     *Check out videos/dvds and audiocassetes/cds from your local library on whatever topic you are studying. Use the video time to break up a monotonous week or time in the car to listen to a book you might not have time to read aloud at home.

     *There are numerous internet sites that allow you to download MP3 files of books you want your family to listen to, or you can listen to them online. Try these to start: Books Should Be Free and My Audio School. Check out my website, homeschool-for-free, for more choices.

     *Contact your favorite cable stations online to receive an advance schedule of programs. Then you can circle the ones that suit your studies, add them to your calendar, and be sure not to miss them. Channels such as HIST, TLC, DISC, LRN, and PBS will often have very informative shows (documentaries about the Pyramids or Robert E. Lee, Bill Nye the Science Guy, etc.)...just be aware of what point of view the topic is being approached from.

*Find AFR (American Family Radio), a Christian station with lots of news, on your dial to listen to as you travel. Current events, anyone? You can also listen online.

     *Try out Netflix. For $8.99 you can instantly download/view thousands of programs and check out one dvd at a time. There are no time limits or late fees. I have seen some excellent IMAX shows on there, and some great older movies my kids really liked. Recently, every episode of the animated program Liberty's Kids became instantly downloadable, and my kids have been watching the episodes when it is too hot to go outside and play and I need some time to get things done.

7. Co-ops: When you are uncertain how to teach a particular subject, instead of buying three different "how-to" books, hiring a tutor, and going crazy, why don't you consider starting or joining a co-op? A co-op can be as small as two families and as large as two hundered people. The idea is that you will take the resources you have (such as my collection of lessons on how to write creatively, or how to do a nature study) and someone else will take their knowledge (carpentry or algebra) and we take turns teaching our kids and each others as often as one day a week and as little as one day a month. I don't have to buy materials because either I or the other teachers already have them. Wonderful! It saves me planning time, as well as money, and a lot of stress (as long as it doesn't get too crazy, that is.) Usually the fees are reasonable. You will just need to call around. You can google your area to find local co-ops.

8. Virtual Schools: I am not a fan of virtual schools myself because of the govenrmental involvement in my homeschooling experience, but for some it can be a real money and life saver. When I lived in Florida, they had a virtual school that met at the Zoo one day a week and the kids were taught hands-on about animals, did creative writing, and had an art class. It was great for that time of our life. Some virtual schools will offer assistance with choosing curriculum, provide money for curriculum, or possibly even a provide a computer. Check out what your state has to offer.

 9. Dual Enrollment is offered in most places as an option for older students who prove through testing that they are capable of completing college-level coursework. The students are then allowed to enroll for FREE in certain college courses while they complete their Junior and Senior years of high school, and the work counts toward college AND high school credit, so in the end you save on tuition and finish an associates or undergrad degree much more quickly than the average student.

10. CLEP testing: for even more savings, have your high schooler's study subjects using a CLEP test study book as a guideline. The tests cost around $80 to take and if your student passes the test, they can receive full credit (3 credit hours) for a college level course...that means a savings when it is time for college. Subjects range from Western Civilization to Sociology to Art to French I.

11. Field Trips: What a great way to learn...actually doing something and going somewhere something important happened or is happening!
 
     *Field trips do not have to be expensive. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of interesting local attractions. When you drive to the next town, stop by theirs, as well. Make a list and start visiting your local area hot spots. Maybe even make a book out of it...history, writing, word processing, art all wrapped up in one!

     *Have you ever considered geocaching or letterboxing? Geocaching.com is a site that will get you started, listing over a million geocaches worldwide. For geocaching you get the GPS coordinates of your target site, travel there, then locate the cache, often taking a trinket and leaving one behind. In letterboxing, the rules are similar, but instead of GPS coordinates, you have to use a compass and follow written instructions, found on a site like Letterboxing.org. Learning combined with a treasure hunt. I call that fun!!

12. Use the Unit Study or a Delight-Directed method of teaching your children. Both of these rely much more on educating using materials you can find at the average library, through folks you know or field trips, and homemade projects such as lapbooks or reports than other methods of teaching. The Charlotte Mason method is also compatible with saving money as a lot of the daily work is centered around simple dictation, narration, nature studies (right outside your door and FREE!) and art/music appreciation. For all of these methods, refer to my site, homeschool-for-free, to find helps (and sometimes complete curriculum choices) for math and other subjects you feel you need to cover more thoroughly.

13. Apprenticeships: For on the job training for your older children, why don't you consider apprenticeships? If you have a student who is very interested in law or in mechanics, find a trusted worker in that area and see if your child can volunteer time (often doing menial jobs) for the opportunity to observe what a person in that field does on a day to day basis. Depending on the field, your student may be given more responsibility over time, and eventually paid for their assistance. Or your student may realize that the chose field is not for him. Either way, you come out ahead and so do they.

14. Volunteerism: Use volunteer opportunities to educate your children, not just about being a servant to others, but about life, choices, and even perhaps a trade. Habitat for Humanity allows older children to help. Most clothes closets and food pantries will accept help organizing, collecting, and distributing products. Nearly anyone can stuff bags with Bibles, toiletries, and candy to be sent overseas to soldiers. Older students can read aloud to the elderly or to young students. All of this valuable education is free, and priceless.

15. Family Business: Do you or your spouse work from home? Get the kids involved. Whether it is by babysitting youngers so you can work uninterrupted, packaging product, basic bookkeeping skills, or computer website maintenance, helping with the family business under your tutelage is free and of great benefit to all.

   *On a similar vein, help your entrepeneurial teen start his or her own business at an approriate age. From babysitting to music lessons to housecleaning to yard work, teens can learn more about accounting, time management, and management of resources by actually DOING a business than from any textbook.

16. Instead of using a Home Economics, Shop, or PE book, use REAL activities to fulfill those credit requirements. Assign chores, share your knowlege on how to cook and clean, build birdhouses, and ride bikes or go on hikes together. This is so much more valuable (and cheaper) than buying textbooks or paying for classes. You can't beat a REAL education. In college, you could always tell which professors had actually gone out there and done what they taught from those who went straight from being a student to being a teacher. Experience can't be beat.

17. Sports: Not everyone feels the need to participate in organized sports or physical activities, but some families do. Here are a few ideas to help lower the costs in this potentially pricey area:

     *If highly organized team sports is not a necessity, but you do want your child to have the chance to play a game of softball or kickball from time to time, try one of these ideas: 1. Get a group of students to come early to your support group or student goverment meetings (or whatever) and play a game then. 2. Organize some PE time as part of your homeschool co-op 3. Organize a separate PE day once a month. 4. Get the kids at church youth group to play ball before the lesson. 5. Have families over to your home once a month for sports, fellowship, and potluck. 6. Meet a few other families with many kids at a local park or Rec Center for a "pick up" game of basketball (this could be a good evangelism opportunity for older students, as well) 7. Let the kids from your neighborhood play kickball in your backyard. You could become THE place to be after school (another evangelism opportunity).

     *See if there is a homeschool sports league in your area for your older students who want to participate in football, basketball, baseball, etc. Often they will have fundraisers to help deflect the burden of costs to families who participate.

     *Many larger churches offer Upward sports for the child who wants to play ball (basketball, soccer, baseball, flag football), but without all the competition (the focus is on good sportsmanship, developing new skills, and evangelism). There is a fee for Upward sports, but it is reasonable (and the time committment is less than with most city leagues).

     *Don't forget your local Parks and Recreation department for a whole slew of classes from yoga to swimming. Usually, the prices for these courses is much better than the prices at private schools, and if you were to be selective, this can be the place you will find you want to spend your money.

18. Music: I would love it if I could afford to send each of my kids for Suzuki violin lessons from the time they are four years old, but I can't. Many of us can't. When money is an issue, you really have to think whether those violin lessons outweigh the comfort of remaining debt free, or of having extra for a family trip once a year, or for mom to get help in the house once a week. That doesn't mean that music is not important. It just means that we have to find alternative ways to acquire the knowelge and also that we trust in God to provide when there is a REAL talent that needs to be developed. I don't know for sure, but I doubt David's dad paid for him to have harp lessons as a kid. He probably gleaned knowlege from watching others play, or from hours sitting with his flocks just picking out tunes. I am sure there was someone there to help when the time was right, because the Lord does provide when He has something He wants you to do.

Here are a few ideas on how to save for music lessons:

     *When children are younger, they can get a lot out of just playing with instruments they help make or that you buy from yard sales. They can have parades, learn to play rhythms, and they can sing. Don't feel you need to get too heavy into music when kids are younger. Listening to music, and perhaps focusing on a particular composer for a week or a month is a wonderful way to introduce your children to the wonders of patterns of notes joined upon a page...all for the price of one cd with a collection of "Classical Masterpieces" on it.

     *If you want even more content to share with your students, try websites like those found on my homeschool-for-free site that introduce children to classical music through games and samples of classical tunes. You Tube is another place you can look for free information and samples. Set up a free account and you can easily make numerous playlists for every facet of your homeschooling (some of mine are "Worship Songs," "Preschool Lessons," "ASL," "Classical Favorites," and "Science Experiments.")
     *As children age and they seem to be developing an interest in a specific instrument, look to acquire that instrument from freecycle, a friend, a pawn shop, or craigslist/other classified source. Buying new isn't always necessary, or even advisable, until you are sure there is a definite talent and interest.

     *Now is the time to try the barter method, and trade somthing you can do (teach creative writing? give sewing lessons?) for lessons. You can also inquire at church if there is anyone at church or in your homeschooling group who is willing to teach a group lesson once a week (someone does this with guitar at our church). Some homeschool leagues sponsor homeschooling orchestras that often include lessons and extra practice sessions for very serious students.

19. Art: You can buy expensive art programs, but there is so much for free on the internet these days that unless there is a specific need you cannot get met in some other way, I would avoid purchasing large amounts of materials concerning art. There are numerous sites that showcase art projects for the very young, and others that walk you through the complexities of drawing faces. With young students especially, I think it is most important that they grow to enjoy and appreciate art...both doing it and looking at it.

     *Take a virtual field trip of a museum online.
     *Choose an artist of the month and imitate his style. Learn about his history and time period.
     *Keep a nature notebook and work on improving your ability to draw what you see.
     *Print up activities from a site like Enchanted Learning and practice scissor and coloring skills.
     *Study a painting and try to figure out what message the artist wanted to convey.
     *Make a notebook of favorite art pieces by printing pictures from the internet and writing about them.
     *Keep an art journal and draw/write in it daily.
     *Visit an art museum or attend an "art in the park" day.
     *See my art page at homeschool-for-free...we love the Mark Kistler lessons.

20. Ask for passes to local educational attractions and fun educational tools, magazines, and toys for Christmas (or Hanukkah) and birthdays from relatives, especially older ones who will appreciate being able to bestow something lasting on the next generation. A year's family pass to the zoo is so much more memorable than some quickly forgotten plastic toys or mindless video games. A collection of books from a catalog you can't usually shop from will be used for years to come. A telescope that PawPaw can use to show all the kids the moon and the stars with will be a treasure forever in their hearts. A subscription to God's World News or Young Horse and Rider will be enjoyed all year.

Whew. Well, that's it. We are finally done. If you read this far, you deserve a prize!! I hope some of what I mentioned is helpful to you on your journey towards homeschooling more inexpensively.

But wait! Don't go yet. I have one more important thing to say:

*Lastly, I would like to stress to you that if you are creative and if you realize that you don't have to do it ALL to be a successful and excellent homeschooling educator, you CAN definitely homeschool your children for free, or at least, more inexpensively than you think (and it will be so much better than if they were in a public, or even a private school).
I enjoyed spending this time with you. Thanks for stopping by.

Blessings on your journey,

Heather 

**For tips on how to not blow what budget you do have at a Homeschooling Convention, see my blog  post, The Curriculum Fair .







8 comments:

alecat said...

Wow, Heather! You put a huge effort in to put all that information up. Thanks!!! ☺

Julie Coney said...

WOW! that is lots of great stuff!

kathy@stewards's steno said...

A third WOW! I just perused this article and will come back to it when I have a few hours of uninterrupted time. I've been homeschooling for 8 years and learned quite a bit from this post.

Michelle Smith said...

Heather, what a comprehensive article. I will have to re-read this in order to be sure I remember everything you have mentioned. You definitely touched on some things I did not.

About Boy Scouts, we have found it to be very inexpensive for our son to participate--BUT he does sell popcorn. When he transferred over to the Boy Scout Troop last spring he had several hundred dollars credit saved up from selling popcorn as a cub scout. As a result, Boy Scouts is nearly as inexpensive as 4-H for our family. :)

Dawn said...

Whew! Great job keeping your thoughts together and covering so much! Thank you!

Crochet Eve said...

I'm only pregnant now but I know I want to homeschool. Your post was great but there is something else I'd like to know...
Do I have to be a teacher to hemescool? Take some classes?
Hire a teacher?

I know I'm capable of teaching and as a matter of fact have always wanted to be a teacher, but would the fact that I'm not be a problem?

Thanks a lot for your time and I'm now following your blog.

Heather said...

Crochet,

I commend you for your conviction to homeschool your child already! You have a marvelous head start over all of us who had to figure out a harder way that it is what we were called to do. You have years to prepare yourself for homeschooling your baby, and the truth is that the Lord will prepare you along the way, giving you the unique talents and gifts needed to best raise your unique child.

To answer your direct questions: I do have a teaching degree because it makes homeschooling easier in my state, but it is not required. Other parents homeschool with little difficulty with no teaching degree or even a college degree. Each state is different and will require various things to be in compliance with their laws. Check out the HSLDA website. I believe they have links to each state's laws.

Often you can homeschool just by notifying the local authorities of what your curriculum is, and then by providing testing scores or an evaluation at the end of the year.

I wouldn't worry about it yet, though. You have years before this is a concern. Laws will likely change before it is time for your child to register to homeschool. Perhaps join or keep an eye on your state homeschooling organization so you will feel as if you are in the loop and up to date. That is not necessary, though, at this early date.

I'd suggest choosing one homeschooling book to look over each year, and perhaps discuss with your spouse (hopefully) so you will be on the same page when the time comes. I think two good places to start are Educating the Wholehearted Child or A Charlotte Mason Education (I LOVE Charlotte Mason's ideas). You will see a collection of my favorite homeschooling books on the right sidebar. Those are my two favorites.

You start homeschooling the day you bring your baby home. All of the work you do early on to develop character, good habits, and a love for learning will pay off in later years. Read, read, read out loud to your baby. Listen to pleasing, soothing classical music, enjoy pretty pictures, and take nature walks together where you observe and explore nature and appreciate God's creation.

If you do these things, by the time it is time to "start" homeschooling, you will already be well on your way to having a well-educated child who loves to learn all the time. Most of all...enjoy your child...love your child...and have fun.

Blessings,

Heather

American Academy National Home School said...

One of the best christian home school programs that loving parents should check it the American Academy. We are accredited by the National Association of Private Schools and we are using a Christian-based curriculum known as The School of Tomorrow. Our Christian home school programs were tailored to fit every child’s needs in all aspects. We impose a reward system approach in line with the goals we set for your child in order to keep him motivated in finishing every milestone. Of course, you will be their partners who will physically guide them all throughout the course. With the American Academy, your child will have the experience similar to that of a regular school set up because we also celebrate their graduation.

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