Homeschooling as a Single Parent, Pt. 7


How Do I Afford This?

Homeschooling “on the cheap” is covered by various sites. It has also been covered by this blog in the past. Yet, because this series is about homeschooling as a single parent, I felt I needed to at least address some ideas on how to be able to afford to homeschool when funding may be tight.

With the internet, a printer, and a good local library, it is possible to homeschool for almost free. Unit studies are very popular ways to homeschool inexpensively. There are literally hundreds of free unit studies available online. There are some paid sites such as CurrClick that offer a free study each week. There are sites like HomeschoolFreebie which offer daily free resources. They also have paid resources that are often offered at a discount. Khan Academy is a well-known free site for many subjects. YouTube offers countless free educational videos and even audio books. Your local public library often offers free learning kits also. It is an extremely valuable resource.

There is a time exchange when you want to save money on homeschooling. When you have free resources, there is no one there organizing the lesson plans. That means it will require more time of the mom or dad to do the planning. Sometimes it is easier to find time than to find money, though.

I should say that the most “bang for the buck” I have found is Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which offers curriculum that is Christian in nature on every subject, and dozens of electives. They offer very easy payment plans also (sales are advertised often). Even though my children are finished, I still maintain my membership in this site since learning never stops. They also offer lesson plans. This is truly a one-stop place for all grades and subjects.

Other curriculums that are low-cost: Pray & Prepare. This is an excellent program that is not Adventist, but teach many of our doctrines such as Saturday Sabbath, unclean meats, and even modest dress. It is low-cost and has activities for all age groups. It is truly a program for the whole family.

Blessed is a Man/Far Above Rubies are high school programs that are specific for gender. They are college-prep programs that require a good deal of reading and writing/research. Again, they provide activities and ways to count high school credit. The parent only has to pick and choose according to interest and needs.

Before leaving this topic, I will also share about the K-12 program offered all across the country through the public school system. Because of the growing number of families who are pulling their children out of the public schools, a home-based public school program is now being offered country-wide. Word of warning…it IS public school. They do offer a number of perks like a free computer, a printer, and funds for internet access. They also offer funds for extras in some areas. When considering this option, ask yourself why you are homeschooling. From the friends I have seen using this program, it is a lot of work. There is also a teacher who oversees the work. Many times I have seen families extremely stressed in trying to finish the work by the end of the school year. Even though the cost is free, there are other costs to consider.

There are other options with information available on the blog and other lists. This post is simply a reminder of some ways to cut the cost of homeschooling. Having low funds needs never be a reason to not homeschool.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 10

My name is Russell, and I am 13 years old and in grade 8. We live on five acres in northwestern Alberta. My favourite things to do here are dirt bike and work on my grandparents farm. I have a younger sister, one dog, and a mom and dad. My favourite place to travel is northern California to see my cousins. I’ve also been to Florida, other provinces in Canada, and Belize. My favourite time of year is fall.

1 ) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Russell Whitmore. I live near Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

2 ) How long have you been home schooled?

Nine years, since kindergarten

3 ) What do you like most about being home schooled?

Freedom to travel and do other things

4 ) Is there anything you dislike about being home schooled?

Would like to see more kids my age

5 ) What is your favorite thing to learn about?

Science

6 ) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

I like to dirt bike and work on the farm.

7 ) What would you like to do when you grow up?

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

8 ) What is your favorite project that you have worked on for school?

The A-Z animals in Africa project I did in grade 6, and a solar system presentation on Mars

Homeschooling High School: The Finish Line — Graduation

Our final topic for the Homeschooling High School series is, of course, graduation. 

Now that your child has covered all the requirements and some electives, how do you celebrate the completion of the high school years? Does the homeschool group you may be a part of have an annual graduation ceremony? What if you don’t belong to a homeschool group? What then?

When my oldest son was ready to graduate, we actually just had a simple program at church, after church and potluck.

I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation, which played on the screen. Then, the pastor spoke a few words, after which I spoke a few words and presented my son with his diploma. I don’t think the program lasted more than about 30 minutes. The only family present were the kids, my husband, and I.

My son and I designed his graduation announcement together.

The verse on his announcement was Isaiah 32:2, NIV:

Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

If you knew anything about my son, you would know why this verse is appropriate! He has been interested in storms and natural disasters from a very young age. Perhaps it’s an inherited trait. <grin> Both his biological father and I are interested in such things (his father more than I, perhaps).

When my daughter was ready to graduate, we were part of a homeschool group which holds an annual graduation ceremony for all the high school seniors in the group…or at least for those who wish to participate in the ceremony.

We (the seniors and parents) had several planning sessions, beginning in January or February of the senior year. Caps, gowns, and diploma covers were ordered. There was even a photographer who did a photo shoot of the kids.

The graduation was held at a Christian church. It was a lovely ceremony, very spiritual and Christ-centered indeed. My parents and my younger brother and his family came in from out of town to attend and celebrate with us.

The young people marched in. There were musical numbers performed. Someone gave an inspirational speech. The students then sat up on the platform. There was a PowerPoint played for each student (which made everyone cry), and then each of us parents went up to give a brief address to our child and present him/her with the diploma.

My daughter and I designed her graduation announcement/invitation. The verse she chose was Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Looking ahead to my current high schooler’s graduation (fortunately I still have a year yet to prepare my heart for that one!!), I imagine his will be more along the lines of a quiet, simple celebration, like my oldest son’s was. But, we’ll see.

As you can see, there are different types of graduation celebrations from which to choose. Simply choose whichever best suits your student and your family. Be sure to treasure the memories and take lots of photos!

(If anyone is interested in seeing the graduation announcements we designed, I will gladly share; leave a comment below.)

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“Aha” Moments

When our children are tiny, we wait with bated breath for every first…the first time they roll over, their first step, first words, first meal…the list is endless.

I’m still seeing firsts. When my oldest son, TLC, was three, he asked me to teach him to write his name, and I started teaching him the rules of reading and writing. He could never seem to translate that knowledge into action though. When he turned eight years old, however, a door seemed to swung open in his mind and he went from not reading one day, to reading at grade-level the next day. It was an amazing moment!

When he was two years old, we were frequently amazed at his mathematical propensities! He could do basic math, including simple multiplication. In the last few years, he has struggled with the concept of multiplication and division. On the advice of our facilitator, we have simply accommodated this challenge by providing him a times table chart to use. I’ll confess to many moments of frustration, especially when it takes him a significant amount of time to calculate equations on the two’s times table! Just recently, however, while we were working on calculating areas and volumes, he had to calculate 3×2… I got frustrated with him and went into a bit of a lecture mode — nothing I hadn’t said to him previously, but he suddenly grasped the concept, and I once again saw the door of his mind swing open. In the days following, he has retained and continued to gain confidence in his mathematical ability and multiplication prowess.

What did I say to him? I told him that math is always the same. That the equation for a triangle will ALWAYS be bh/2. His response? “That’s logical, I should be good at this.” I laughed and told him he was good at this. That’s been the most frustrating thing. I know he’s good at math. I know he has a natural affinity for it. It was not until he was aware of his natural ability in math that he was able to begin excelling at it. The key for TLC was discovering math is always the same, that it is logical, constant, and reliable. Once he realized that key point, the world of math opened up for him.

 
I love the “AHA” moments. I love still being able to experience those with my children. It makes all the frustration, the challenges and the struggles worthwhile.

Sometimes we get caught up in trying to make our children keep up with their peers, and forget that they learn at their own pace. We change the way we teach because we fear they aren’t grasping the concept, when our children simply need only one more piece of the puzzle to believe in themselves. Once we empower them to believe in themselves, they can quickly and easily grasp the most challenging concept. I have to be aware, to watch and carefully identify the messages I, and others, give my children. I need to purposefully build up their esteem.

When they believe they can learn, learning becomes easy.

Homeschooling from Wisconsin

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Joella Show. I married my husband in 2004. We have two boys, Christopher who will be 11 in a few weeks, and his little brother Jonathan who is 9. My husband works for Wisconsin Academy and we are a faculty family there. Prior to this move we lived in Michigan.

How long have you been home schooling ?

We have homeschooled our boys since birth. 

Why did you decide to home school?

I can not imagine sending my boys away from home for many hours each day.  I would miss them to much!  I always hoped I could home school my children. My older son has a learning disability which “cemented” our commitment to homeschool our boys. 

What style of home schooling does your family follow?

We use a traditional style of homeschooling. We follow a flexible schedule. The boys thrive on knowing what to expect.

Do you have a philosophy about home schooling?

I believe every family and every child has different circumstances. One school environment may work for one child and not for another child.  I do not believe homeschooling, public school, or private school is the best option for every child. 

In our situation, homeschool is our best option. A schedule is a must. We prefer school work with as little “busy work as possible.”  We want to get through the important stuff as soon as possible so we can have the rest of the day free to do other things.

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to home school, and why?

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I can choose an individual curriculum that works for the learning needs of each child.   

For example, I have tried at least four different math programs with my children. 

As a family we use My Bible First for morning devotions, Young Disciple for Bible Class, Rosetta Stone Spanish, Getting Started with Spanish, Apologia Science, Beginning Christian English Skills, English from the Roots Up, True Education Reader, and New American Cursive. We use these resources as a family. For science/history/geography we are studying the ecosystem/biome, history, art, and culture of a different country every one to two weeks. 

Jonathan: Singapore math and Building Spelling Skills.

Christopher:Math U See and All About Spelling. 

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with home schooling?

I am the primary teacher, but I just took over this school year. My husband was the primary school teacher for the past four years when I was working full time. Now we have flip-flopped roles, and we are very happy about the swap!

What does a typical home schooling day look like in your home?

Wake up and complete morning routine, including drinking water, making bed, doing worship, getting dressed, and sorting/starting the laundry. Then we eat and clean up breakfast.

Then we do Bible, handwriting, This Day in History, Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader, math, Pyramid/Metronome occupational therapy exercise, piano practice, reading time, Spanish, spelling, reading. 

Then lunch…

After lunch we do geography, science, and art.  Then we clean up the house and play. 

We attend recess at the local church school several times a week. 

We read a lot most evenings. We also take part in a lot of Wisconsin Academy activities.

What do you love the most about home schooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love having my kids at home and I love that I have control of what they are learning! I don’t like mommy guilt. I often wonder if I could do things better or if I am missing something important in their education. I don’t like interruptions in the school schedule during the day.   

Is there anything you would like to share about your home school?

I highly encourage homeschool parents to attend homeschool conferences!