Homeschooling on a Budget

29 March 11:01 am
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I’ve had the dreaded bronchitis this last week, so it’s been a few days since I’ve posted. I promised to follow-up my last post with more ideas about homeschooling on a budget, so here they are.

Grocery Store Curriculum

Everyday chores offer free learning opportunities. For example, the next time you head to the grocery store, take the kids along and do some “grocery store math.” Depending on your child’s skill level, you can ask your child:
* If two cans cost ninety-nine cents, how much are four cans? Three?

Estimate what a bag of fruit or tomatoes weight and then weigh it to see how close she came to guessing correctly.
* Which is a better buy, the name brand using this coupon or the store band without a coupon?
* What is twenty percent of the cost of this box of cereal? How much would it be if it were twenty percent off?
* Estimate the total cost of groceries while waiting in the check-out line, or guess how many bags your order will fill.
* How many different deli meats would we have to buy to have three pounds if we buy one-quarter pound of each?

Fun Learning Materials to Make Yourself

Like adults, children take pride in creations of their very own, and these will be used for many years. Materials for fun and useful resources are inexpensive and easily available.

Geoboards. Typically a wooden board with equally spaced nails in rows, 6 x 6, 7 x 7, and so on. Your child uses rubber bands wrapped around different nails to create geometric shapes and to learn about area.

Tangrams. A tangram is a square of material cut into seven pieces-five triangles, one rhomboid, and one square. These are used as a puzzle to recreate predetermined pictures, always using all seven pieces, and may also be used informally to explore shapes. Search “tangram” on the Internet for a readily available pattern.

Geometric shape. Use string and a box of straws to create geometric shapes.

Maps. Maps may be drawn, found on the Internet, or purchased inexpensively from office supplies stores. Your child can color, make a cookie map, or have fun mapping out the route the wolf took to Little Red Riding Hood’s house.

Books. Children love their own books whether filled with pictures or words. Younger ones can illustrate a favorite story printed by an adult. Every child’s creative writing can become an illustrated book, with only 8 ½” x 10″ paper stapled together full-size or folded in half to more closely resemble a book. Illustrations can be drawn or cut out of old magazines and catalogs.

Ziploc bags can be filled with pictures, dried flowers, family mementos, etc., then connected by yarn or ribbon through holes punched equidistant from the edges on each bag.

The Basics. Artists keep appropriate supplies at hand, and a musician’s instrument is never far away lest inspiration strikes.

A learning child should similarly have some basic materials on hand for easy access. These need not be expensive either, and many of the reference books that formerly needed to be purchased are available online.

Useful reference books include encyclopedias and dictionaries. General ones are great, but don’t forget to keep your eyes open at garage and library sales (and online) for the many specialized editions available. A thesaurus is handy, as are Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and Elements of Style, a succinct primer on writing rules for older students.

Atlases and almanacs teem with information for the taking. A desk, cubbyhole, or corner of a room can become the place to study for your child if s/he can make it his/her own. Make sure the area is well lit for reading and writing.

Here s/he can store a calculator, ruler, stapler, paper clips, extra pens and pencils (different colors and media are a lot of fun), paper of all sorts, protractor and compass (age appropriate-a compass has a very sharp point.)

Not only does home education need to be inexpensive, there are many benefits to accepting the challenge to keep down the cost for your family. When you’re on the lookout for educational opportunities, you will begin to look at the world differently, discovering that you’re surrounded by opportunity daily.

This awareness helps you and your family appreciate the world as your ultimate classroom. Thinking about alternatives for expensive materials exercises your imagination and creativity, which makes them grow stronger. These traits will serve you-and your child-well throughout your homeschooling experience, and save you lots of money at the same time.

Never stop learning,

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