Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time

The topic of our blog cruise this week is “sneaking school into the busy days.” You know those days, we all have them. There may be two (or three) doctors appointments scheduled. Perhaps you need to visit a sick friend, drop something off to your husband at work, and go to the grocery store and the bank. You look at your planner and say “How are we going to get anything done?”

Well, the good thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. And this is how we squeeze in some school time on those days. First, I look at my plans and ask myself what absolutely needs to be done. For example, if we have a science experiment that day, I may move that to another day of the week. Completing an experiment in the car or on the go is difficult and will only stress me out, so its better to wait until I don’t have so much to do. If there are any time consuming hands on projects going on, I will also move those. Completing a lapbook in the doctor’s office waiting room isn’t going to happen.

Next, I decide what can be easily transported and pack that in a backpack. We have some textbook/workbook subjects like math (CLE) and grammar (ACE) which can be done pretty much anywhere. So we throw those in the backpack with some pencils and bring them with us. In general, my kids can bring their math, grammar, and science books with them. They then work on those while we sit in the waiting room.

The car is a great place for reading or discussion. Sometimes we will use the drive to review spelling words, discuss history projects, listen to a book on tape, or my kids will do their individual reading. They do have Nooks which they bring with them. These can also be used for reading and other school activities. If I know we are going to have a remarkably long wait, I will bring my laptop so my son can watch his math DVD.When in the grocery store, or running other errands, I try to use that time to review math facts and other things that can be done while walking and talking.

Now look, there are some days that are so crazy that all we actually get done is reading and some math, but that’s okay. The next day, when things calm down, we just pick up where we left off. I try not to stress too much on busy days. When I first started homeschooling it would really bother me if we didn’t get everything done, and it turned me into a crazy person. Life is messy, and I have learned to go with the flow. I know we will get done with what we need to by the end of the year. And I sometimes think that God allows interruptions to my schedule for a reason.

How do you school on busy days? Leave me a comment and let me know. To see what other crew members have to say on this topic, click here:

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Tips for Homeschooling on a Budget

Let’s face it, financially times are tough for just about everyone right now. There are months at my house that we struggle just to pay bills and get groceries, let alone have any extras. And I have blogged before about how every time I manage to save money for curriculum a disaster occurs and the money disappears. This year it was my husband’s illness and some emergency car repairs that ate it up. We all know that homeschooling is a big job, and while I admire those people who can just make up their own curriculum and stuff, I am not one of them. So, what do you do when it’s time to start school and there is no money in the bank to get materials? Well, this is some of what I did.

1. Reuse what you can from last year.
If you didn’t finish up last year’s stuff (which we didn’t), go ahead and use it to start your school year. My 7th grader is currently finishing up his 6th grade math, reading, science, and grammar while my 10th grader is finishing his history, Bible, and English from last year. I am hoping this will buy me some time to get the money I need to replace these subjects.

2. Network with homeschool friends.
I belong to two homeschool groups and I was able to get some curriculum through them this year. In one group, a friend of mine knew about the financial setbacks my family had faced. She has three kids, the oldest of whom is a senior this year. She offered to let me borrow some of her curriculum for this school year. I was able to get my oldest son Apologia biology and Chalkdust Geometry this way. The other homeschool group has a library where members can check out donated curriculum. I was able to get spelling and a couple of other things for my younger son this way. Since these items are on loan, I have to make sure we do not write in them or anything, but that is not a big deal. The fact is, borrowing curriculum in this way met some needs and saved quite a bit of money.

3. Search for used curriculum.
There are many websites where used curriculum is available. Homeschool classifieds is a good one. I also like the sale and swap boards at the Homeschool Reviews Forum. The Well Trained Mind forum also has a swap board you can check out. Another good idea is to check eBay. I searched for a few things there, and I still have my eye on a couple. Buying used curriculum can mean not getting all of the pieces, or perhaps having less than perfect books, but it’s better than having nothing. Many homeschoolers take good care of their books because they want to resell them later, so most of what you get is in good shape.

4. Focus on what’s necessary.
I LOVE curriculum! Seriously, I used to go to my state conference just so I could spend all day in the curriculum hall. There is SO much cool stuff I want to use with my kids! However, when facing a slim budget, you have to focus on what you really need. We cut down to the basics this year. While I love to include extras and electives, this year I just couldn’t. So it’s pretty much reading, writing, math, science, history, english (for my oldest) and bible. My oldest son has two electives because he needs them, but I found those subjects on eBay at a discount. While I would love to squeeze in some cool science kits I found for my younger son, they were more of an “extra” than a need. If I find some money later this year, I may pick one up, but if not, I know he is getting what he needs and that is what’s important.

I wish I had an unlimited budget for homeschool. There is just so much great stuff out there! Unfortunately, I don’t. So, while our year is not going the way I envisioned it in my head when I was planning last April, it is still moving forward. In a way, simplifying has made things a lot easier for me. There are still some things I need to get, but we are buying them piecemeal as we get extra funds. My kids are still learning and happy, and I know that God will provide a way for me to get the necessities to finish out the year!

Do you have a great tip or website to use for homeschooling on a budget? Let me know in the comments.

Living Frugally

Homeschool Budgeting 101

Starting the Year Off Right

It’s that time again…we are getting back to school! I have to say, I am partially relieved that we will be returning to a normal schedule. Summer is fun, but after a while the disorder kind of gets to me. However, I am also a little worried because I am not quite ready to start yet. It’s okay though, I plan to get that all worked out soon.

Our topic for this week’s blog cruise is “Back to Homeschool Traditions”. We do have some special things we do each year to get out school year started. We live on the East coast of Florida close to the beach. Each year, our homeschool group has a “Beach Breakfast Kickoff” to celebrate the start of the new year. Basically all the members of the group get together at the beach in the morning and brings a dish to share. After we eat all the families hang out and have a good time catching up with each other. The celebration is held on the first day of the official school year for public school students in our county. Even though we have some year-round homeschoolers in our group, they still come to the breakfast just for fun. My kids look forward to this every year as a chance to see their friends after our summer break and have fun on the beach.

Now, we don’t always start our personal school year on this day. Usually we start about two weeks after that. So, on the first day of our school year at home me, my kids, and my husband (if he is off work) go to a favorite local restaurant for breakfast. Our first day is usually an introduction to all of the things my kids will be doing during the year, so it’s pretty relaxed. My kids also look forward to going to breakfast every year, and we have a tradition of going out to the same place on the last day of every school year as well.

I love creating our own special traditions for our family. It’s just another part of why we homeschool. Do you have any traditions to start your school year? Let me know in the comments and check out what my other Crew members had to say here:

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Winging It

So here we are, a week away from starting school, and I am still piecing it together. This has never happened before. I always have all of our curriculum picked out and ready to go! Unfortunately, we have had a crazy year, and the money I had saved up for curriculum had to go to other things. So, I have been waiting and praying for God to provide some stuff for us to work with, and of course, He has.

I have a friend with two high schoolers who is going to lend me some of her stuff. She has a math and science I can borrow for my oldest son. While the programs may not have been what I picked, I am just thankful that we have something we can use. And who knows? Maybe we will end up loving both programs! I still have to work on history/English with him. We used MFW Ancients last year, and we both LOVED it. I really want to continue his high school with them, but the program is expensive. For now, I am going to have him finish up last year’s program (he still has six weeks left) and hope that I will be able to get the money together to purchase their World History in the next month or so.

For my youngest, we are also going to start the year finishing up what we did not get to for last year’s curriculum and use stuff I have received from the TOS Crew (which has been such a huge blessing for us 🙂 ). We did finish up our science, and we only have a couple of books left in CLE Math, but that isn’t too expensive, so I hope to be able to buy that soon. I also want to get the fourth book in the Apologia Worldview series, as we have already done the first three and loved them.

My friend invited me to join her homeschool co-op this year, and they too have a library where you can check out curriculum for the year, so I am hoping to find some things I can use there.

I have to say, “winging it” is not really my style. I am WAY outside of my comfort zone here. But I think that maybe God is trying to teach me something here. I get very “focused” on our curriculum and everything for school, and I think maybe He wants me to lean more on Him than on my books. He is showing me that He will provide what my kids need to learn, and I just have to let Him lead the way.

So, I am trying not to panic right now. I am working on (finally!) filing all of my leftover papers from last year, and once I collect all my borrowed stuff I will spend this weekend getting ready for Monday. I keep telling myself I am NOT going to worry or stress over this. My children WILL learn and I don’t have to have a “set” curriculum for them to do so. (even though I just love having books to work with! LOL) And as time goes on and we get back on our feet, the Lord will provide a way for me to purchase those things that I absolutely need. Dependence on Him is what is important, and if I can just teach my kids that lesson I will be satisfied.