Affordable Homeschooling

During summer, we focused on stuff other than school. Beachside Diversions, licensed open edition art print by Steve Henderson at Great Big Canvas.

During summer, we focused on stuff other than school. Beachside Diversions, licensed open edition art print by Steve Henderson at Great Big Canvas.

Maybe you homeschool all year round. We didn’t.

But even if you do, there’s something about the July/August window that gets people thinking about homeschool curriculum, and ordering the next year’s supply for each child. It doesn’t take long with a catalog for numbers to add up quickly, and unlike the public school system, our textbook and curriculum purchases are not covered by the taxes we pay to the state.

We’re on our own here, but that’s the point: as homeschoolers, we blaze a trail that is unique to each family. When we first start out, it seems as if we’ll never achieve the confidence and knowledge it takes to impart a quality education to our kids, but every day, we the parent teachers learn as much as, or more than, our children.

So let’s talk about curriculum, and how to reign in its costs.

The major difference between curriculum and books is that books are a LOT more engaging and fun. Embrace Each Day poster by Steve Henderson, available at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

The major difference between curriculum and books is that books are a LOT more engaging and fun. Embrace Each Day poster by Steve Henderson, available at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

The first thing many homeschooling parents ask at the outset of their journey is along these lines:

“What curriculum does everybody use?”

Those who are concerned about doing this right and not making any mistakes at all, ever, are more specific, like this:

“We are homeschooling our five-year-old, and I am looking for a complete curriculum that covers every subject: history, Bible study, handwriting, grammar, literature, creative writing, drawing skills, mathematics, basic science, and career choices.”

Regarding statement number one: “Everybody” doesn’t use the same curriculum. Some people don’t use any curriculum at all; others find a publisher and purchase every workbook they produce. Most people are in between, customizing a situation that fits them and their family.

About statement number two: You do realize, don’t you, that we’re talking about a five-year-old?

Stand tall and straight with confidence in your abilities. Purple Iris, original watercolor available at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Stand tall and straight with confidence in your abilities. Purple Iris, original watercolor available at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

In 20 years of homeschooling, I have found a common thread among many, many homeschooling parents: they lack the confidence to teach their child basic subjects — like reading, language, math, writing, science — and rely heavily upon a curriculum series, which usually consists of workbooks — to do the job for them.

If you are one of these parents, and you are affected by a sentence like this:

“What makes you think that you can teach your child reading, writing, math, science, basically anything? You don’t have a college degree in teaching,”

You need to grapple with this concept first, before moving on. As long as you have little or no confidence in your ability to teach a child how to read or do fractions, you will wave in the wind like a weed before any statement questioning your intelligence or your abilities.

My mother, the ninth child of Polish uneducated immigrant sustenance farmers, taught me every significant educational landmark a person needs to know: she opened the world of reading, explained the multiplication table the day before it was introduced in public school (where they spent the next three months slooooooooowwwwwly dancing around the concept), established the groundwork of grammar, spelling, and writing skills, and showed me how to use the library when I had a question about science. In my high school years, she tossed in basic finances, job seeking skills, and logic.

Effectively, she homeschooled me in the hours after public school, and well before a concept was introduced in the classroom, my mother had already taught it to me. No, she was not a secret homeschooler: this was back in a time when homeschooling was an obscure concept and an illegal activity.  She was, however, excited about life and learning, and she spent time interacting with me and passing on what she knew.

My mother grew up on a farm, where you learn lots of useful things. Homeland 3, licensed open edition art print by Steve Henderson at Great Big Canvas.

My mother grew up on a farm, where you learn lots of useful things. Homeland 3, licensed open edition art print by Steve Henderson at Great Big Canvas.

Isn’t this what you are doing with homeschooling?

So back to the curriculum purchase, and how to save money on it:

1) Don’t buy so much. Use a little to go a long way.

2) Take advantage of the library.

3) Gain confidence in yourself, relying upon books for what they are — resources, not replacements for human interaction.

We’ll talk about this more next week, same day (Thursday), same place.

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Homeschooling? Yes, You Can Teach Your Child to Write

Writing: The More You Practice the Better You Get

Real Life Writing

20-years worth of writing teaching is packed into this inexpensive, easy-to-read, book. Paperback and digital formats at Amazon.com.

20-years worth of writing teaching is packed into this inexpensive, easy-to-read, book. Paperback and digital formats at Amazon.com.

And regarding Step 1 in the list above — Use a Little to Go a Long Way — I recommend my book, Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” which draws upon 20-years of teaching writing to my own children, all of whom 1) write intelligently and well and 2) never say “Him and me went to the movies.”

Grammar Despair addresses common issues that everyone faces — “Do I say there, their, or they’re?” “When do I break for paragraphs?” “Is it really a sin to end a sentence with a preposition?” You don’t have to be an expert in grammar to write as if you were, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money for this book.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, books, children, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Education, Encouragement, Family, finances, frugal living, Growth, home, homeschooling, inspirational, instruction, Life, Lifestyle, money, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Random, saving money, school, self-improvement, shopping and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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