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

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