Home School Resources
I have read in past issues some of the folks who subscribe to the Dollar Stretcher home school their kids as I also do. I'd like to hear any frugal tips from those out there who home school. These tips might also include second hand curriculum sites on the web as well as other things.
Editor's note: As a general rule, we don't allow tipsters to promote their own businesses. We decided that with this article we'd make an exception. You can easily tell which readers are referring to their own products. We'll let you decide whether you want to follow up on their suggestions.
Homeschool Resources: Use Unit Study Approach
Donna requested ideas from other frugal, homeschooling moms. My favorite method for educating my children at home is using a Unit Study approach. No text books necessary! Instead we use 'real' books from the library and supplement with art projects, videos, and experiments when appropriate. For example, this year my fifth-grade daughter is studying the Ancient World. We began with Egypt. We compared the climate of Egypt with that of our hometown in Pennsylvania. She did reports on papyrus (we made homemade 'papyrus'), lotus flowers, crocodiles (in a pop-up book). We buried identical strips of paper in two jars, one containing dry sand and one containing damp soil. In a few weeks we compared the condition of the two papers & learned why the Egyptian artifacts are in such good shape. Chelsea made maps of the Nile in its normal state as well as in its annual flooded state. She outlined her little brother on brown kraft paper and made a 'life-size' drawing of King Tut's sarcophagus. Just for fun, I rented a Saturday Night Live video with Steve Martin's classic "King Tut" (remember, "How'd ya get so funky?")
She made a salt dough map of Egypt including the pyramids at Giza. We spent bedtimes for several weeks reading aloud a wonderful book "Mara, Daughter of the Nile" . We watched two videos from our local library, neither of which were too great from a ten-year-old's perspective. Chelsea studied the Egyptian gods & goddesses in some detail. We had planned to mummify a chicken with another homeschool family, but the holidays were upon us and scheduling got tricky. We played the Egyptian game, Senet. We also watched "The Ten Commandments".
We did lots of other cool things, as our study lasted 2 months, but I think you get the idea. We spent very little money, which was a plus, but the biggest advantage is that this is a great way to learn! Far superior, in my opinion, to textbooks and worksheets. Another plus: the younger kids learn, too! My five-year-old noticed a crack in the sidewalk in front of the library and said, "Mommy, that looks like the Nile!" And it did, too!
Julie in PA
Homeschool Resources: Home School vs. Un-Schooled
You don't say whether you're actually 'home schooling' or unschooling, but in either case, if you have a browser you can search using that word (words?) as a topic. iVillage.com and Learn2Com are places to start.
If you're wondering what the difference is between home schooling and unschooling -- with home schooling, you determine the curriculum -- with unschooling, your child gets tired of watching Mr. Ed one day and asks you how many kinds of horses there are and the next thing you know you've got a veterinarian in the family.
When I was searcing for info on my soroban and on origami, I was amazed at the sites Yahoo led me to that were directed toward K-12 education. I commend you for the wonderful gift you are giving your child.
Homeschool Resources: Library Is Your Best Resource
I am homeschooling and my oldest is 7, so we are just getting into this. But so far I have found the library to be the best resource around. Even considering that our last fine was $26! I have found books on phonics and math, as well as countless ones on history and science. We live in a small town with a one room library too. Other books I have found in catalogs but not wanted to purchase have been available through interlibrary loan for only $1. THere are also videos and CD's available. The other advice I have for the library is to not stay in the kids section. There are books of artwork and architecture and gardening that have a lot of visual information. And don't stick to one library. Visit ones in nearby towns and get cards there too. To avoid the fines we get a list of the books we check out (they print it at the check out) and search for the books before we go back.
My other idea on how to keep this affordable, is to stick to the basics. A great resource is the books by Ruth Beechik. You can teach the kids to read and write and spell without a curriculum. Even math can be taught that way although there are some inexpensive workbooks to help in math. We simply read and write a lot. Reading comprehension is usually acting out the book or drawing pictures. Writing can be a book report but often it is a letter to a friend or a story. Then I help correct the spelling and make a practice list to work on. Every couple of months I read through a scope and sequence list to see if we are forgetting something and try to add that in. For record keeping, I just write down what we do every day. It is important to write it down every day if you are not following a pre set plan, then you will see how much you are doing. I just got a calendar book at the store and use a highlighter to mark different subjects. At a glance I can see if we don't have enough pink over the week and add more language arts the next week.
Homeschool Resources: Re-Use and Borrow
If you use workbooks and home school more than one child, you might want to try taking the workbooks apart and using plastic page protectors. That way the children can mark their answers with dry, wipe-off markers and the pages can be used again. Also, make good use of your library. There are lots of homeschooling websites, too.
Jane in Indiana
Homeschool Resources: TEACH
This is in response to Donna's request for money saving ideas for homeschooling. The publication TEACH (an acronym: To Encourage And Challange Homeschoolers) is full of ideas of many kinds. Each Issue has two full articles that deal with this subject exclusively and this theme is interwoven throughout. It is a 16-page newsletter with many well known writers featured in it as well as some experienced "keepers of the home". You can get a sampling of it by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or for a copy send $2 by writing:
18016 West Spring Lake Dr.
Renton, WA 98058.
You will be glad you did. I hope this helps you as much as it has me.
(editor's note: I've had the opportunity to check out a couple of issues of TEACH. It's a good resource that looks to be very helpful.)
Homeschool Resources: Advice from a Private School Teacher
I would like to suggest that you try using the Core Knowledge Curriculum for home schooling. I am a teacher in a private school that uses the Core Knowledge Program and I coordinate the program in our school. This is a wonderful program and I know many people who use Core for home schooling. The series of books are available at the library. If there is a Sam's Discount Club near you, they usually carry the paperback version. The titles are What Every First Grader Should Know and so on for each grade level. There is also a wonderful website with everything you want to know about the program, including many lesson plans. It is www.coreknowledge.org. Hope you find it helpful.
Homeschool Resources: A Six Year Veteran Responds
We are in our 6th year of homeschooling and doing it fairly frugally. Some of the money-saving ideas I've used are:
- Shop consignment, used book, library book and garage sales. I've found a wealth of readers, workbooks (with a few pages marked in them), and ancillary books for all age levels.
- Buy once and copy, copy, copy! Most of the time this is perfectly legal and acceptable as long as it's within your own family.
- Surf the net. I've found MANY free unit studies, quizzes, puzzles pages, and tons of information on subjects that we are studying. Often, the student can read the information, then complete tests on the material at their own pace and do it all independently.
- Borrow. I have several friends who are happy to loan out materials to me. Often we swap things for a few months. This doesn't work for textbooks that we need daily all year, but is great for unit studies, seasonal info and such.
- Shared purchase. Another friend and I have bought several more costly items and split the use of them by month or quarter. This would work for educational games, math manipulatives, expensive reference books and resource materials too.
Homeschool Resources: Be Creative Finding Books
I also home school our three sons. I have found many books at Salvation Army for cents. I am also a member of our local home schooling support group and we have a used book/curriculum sale. It is a way to get rid of what you don't use anymore and find some that you use. I also am a member of NCHE (North Carolinians for Home Education). There may be something similar in other states. They have a book fair every year with about 100 vendors. Prices are cheaper and there are some used books too.
I also like E.D. Hirsch, Jr. 's book What Your Third Grader Needs to Know (also for all the other grades too) It gives lists of books you can find at the library to use.
I try to avoid workbooks (some kids like them, mine don't). If you have more than one age group, buy books that you can reuse. Just make sure they don't write in them. I also use my computer to make work sheets and tests. It takes some work but what better job could you have than raising your children.
My older sons also help teach their younger brother. They love "testing" each other.
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