Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Cost of Homeschooling Part 2

The second greatest expense that most families encounter when home schooling is that of extra curriculur activities. In public school, many activities are provided by the school at no charge. When home schooling, however, it is up to the family to provide meaningful activities and social opportunities for the children. This can results in thousands of dollars spent on lessons and activities. A diligent parent can find more than enough for the children to do for a fee, but there is equally as much, if not more free activities to do as well.

First of all, look within yourself and find out what it is that you enjoy doing, that you might provide as a service for others. For example, I have taught baton twirling for years, but stopped having regular classes as my life got busier with work and babies of my own. When my children got older, I realized that I could start my classes again, and they would be baton twirlers without the hassle of having to try out for the school's team. I started hosting free classes for other girls in the community, now my own girls are part of a wonderful, performing group, and all that it costs me is my sweat. I also volunteer as a Girl Scout leader. All that it costs for me to be a Girl Scout leader and to include my own daughters in this wonderful movement, is the $30.00 membership dues per year for all of us. In scouting, the sky is the limit as far as activities and experiences, especially if you are a leader and get to participate in the planning for your troops. Again, I have to put forth some effort on my part, but if I can create daily home school activities, I can certaintly keep a Girl Scout troop busy for at least an hour per week. Do any of the churches in your community offer classes for the children during the week? Usually churches offer lots of low or no cost opportunities for children of all ages to play and learn. One of my favorites is the AWANA club that is hosted by the First Baptist Church. The cost for a t-shirt and workbook is usually less than $20.00 for the year, and the children get maximum Bible training along with games and socializing. For your older children, find out if there are any organizations that need volunteers. Volunteering is an activity that helps both the organization and your child in many, many ways. My 13 year old daughter has volunteered at the local nursing home, in the activities department, since she was 10 years old. This costs nothing for her to do, and works out somewhat like an apprenticeship. If you were to talk to her about what she does every day, you would soon find that she is learning far more than how to call bingo or play dominos. Also, don't forget that organized activities should only be a small portion of what you do. Overscheduling is a problem for most American children. There is no rule that says that to have a well rounded education, a child must be kept busy from sun up to sun down. Don't feel that children must have a scheduled activity for every day of the week. Leave time open for them to play outside, visit with friends, read books of choice, play games, etc. They need this time of free play, and you will find that you need some time for yourself as well. By allowing the children to entertain themselves, you are not only saving money that would have been spent on yet another organized activity, but you are giving them a chance to use their creativity, and giving yourself a chance for some well deserved "mommy time". Therefore, if you are worried about home schooling because it would be too expensive to provide extra curricular activities for the children, or because you are worried that your tight budgest will hinder them socially, look around and make a list of all of the free or almost free opportunities that exist in your area. Chances are, you will find things to do that your children would have missed out on if they were enrolled in public school, and many of those experiences are far more beneficial than anything that money could buy.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Cost of Home Schooling Part 1

With the nationwide concern over the cost of gasoline and food, it stands to reason that many of us don't have as much buying power as we might have had just a few months ago. This is especially true for home schoolers. Home schoolers often live on one income, which can result in a tighter budget, with or without the growing concerns around the world. Because we live on less money, we have to be even more willing to get up, get moving, and figure out how to make our lives abundant with what we have.

First of all, don't try to hide your budget issues from your children. How do you think that so many children grow up thinking that money grows on trees? The majority of children are not privy to grown up budgeting concerns. Therefore, money just seems to appear when they need it, or not, and that's the way it is until they grow up, get married, and find themselves in a financial mess. Since we are home schoolers, and like to be different, why not make our children a little more aware of what goes on behind the bank account? When you don't have the money for something, be honest and say, "I'm sorry, but I just don't have enough money right now." It's that simple. If your children are old enough to understand, you might swallow your pride and continue by saying, "I don't have the money for that right now, because we had an enormous electric bill this month." Of course, your explanation has to suit each individual situation, but being honest helps your children to understand that there is not an endless supply of funds, that you will take care of their needs to the best of your ability, and that being broke can be a time of creativity, rather than a time of tragedy. In a sense, hard times is when we are most fortunate to be home schoolers, because we can turn our budget deficits into scores of free lessons in home economics, health, science, social studies and much more.

Our focus today is on food. Home schooling increases your grocery needs, because the children are home to eat all day, rather than after school hours. For beginning home schoolers, the growing grocery bill and the need to prepare so many meals can get overwhelming. The good news is, there is free curriculum in your kitchen. What skills does one need to be able to follow a recipe? One must read, measure, understand basic fractions, temperature, time, and following directions. Recipes can be copied by children for copywork, which is reading, writing and spelling practice. If you need a new recipe, look it up online or at the library, and have the children copy it very neatly, emphasizing that if you can't read the recipe, the food will not turn out correctly. So, if you can afford to cook, you can afford to homeschool.

Look around your kitchen, or make a list of some of the items that you would miss if you did not have the money to buy them. Then, go to your favorite search engine, such as, or, and enter search words such as: "how to make your own baking mix". A wealth of websites will pop up with free recipes that you can use to save money, have better quality products for your family, and give you something fun and useful to do with the children. My favorite website for just this purpose is I keep a three ringed binder with loose leaf paper for copying and taking notes that I find online or in books that are borrowed so that I can use the recipes and ideas later. *Hint.....this also saves on printer ink, and gives your children some valuable writing practice as mentioned before.

The reality is that this lifestyle will help you save money, but will not make your life more convenient. Instead of popping a meal in the microwave that you can serve within five minutes, you are going to spend far more hours in the kitchen. I, personally, do not mind this, as I look at cooking and baking the same as I look at a craft project. I love to work with my hands and I love to make my own products. The secret is organization. If you know that you are going to be tied up with music lessons and soccer games in the evening, then get the components for a good supper either ready, or partially ready as soon as you finish serving and cleaning up after breakfast. Even if your husband is not the kind of man that cares about having dinner as soon as he gets home, you can use his usual arrival hour as sort of a curfew for yourself. This is when you can have all of your cooking and baking finished and ready for the table. It's all right if you have to reheat the meal later. The goal is to have it ready, so that you can enjoy the rest of your evening, and not feel pressed to order pizza or hit the drive through. As soon as you get up in the morning, decide what you are going to serve for supper. Do you need to thaw out meat, do you need to put beans or soup in the slow cooker? Forgetting to thaw out our main dish has been the cause of most of the pizza deliveries at my house.

Many of my favorite home school blogs and websites feature frugal recipes, so I'm not going to do that here, but keep in mind that if you have a kitchen that is well stocked with basic baking supplies such as flour, oil, baking powder, etc. you will be able to make more meals than you ever thought possible, and will find yourself needing fewer and fewer items at each grocery store trip. Your children will reap many educational benefits, besides learning the art of frugality and creativity when money is tight.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Homeschool Challenge #3

Do you get lots of junk mail? Turn junk mail into free educational materials and boredom busters for your younger writers. Gather up the little business reply cards that you have to fill out with your name, address, etc. if you are going to order something. Save them so that if your child gets fidgety during a trip, or in waiting rooms, etc. you can hand one to him or her to fill out. The child will practice filling in her own name, address, telephone number, and other pertinent information. This helps with writing practice, and memorization of important safety information such as your address and telephone number. Just make sure that the cards don't make it to the mailbox without your consent!

Give your slightly older child a catalog that has a pull-out order form. Tell her how much "money" she has to spend, and that she must order as much as she can from the catalog without going over. Point out that some of her budget has to go to shipping and taxes. You can decide if you want her to be able to use a calculator for this lesson, or not.

Also try using catalogs for Challenge #2!