Homeschooling {on a Budget}

A number of readers have asked me to share more about my family’s homeschooling experiences.

I’ve been hesitant until now for a number of reasons, but primary is that fact that we’ve only been doing this for 18 months and I promise you, we are the furthest thing form experts. We’re just figuring it out as we go along, so while I have anecdotes — I wouldn’t yet call them expertise.

(You can read more about our homeschooling stories here and here.)

Despite these reservations, I’ve decided that one of my blogging aspirations for 2014 is to share more about our homeschooling — both because some of you have asked me, and also because it is an admittedly huge part of my day to day life.

Some times I might post about a resource or curriculum that we use, which I think others – homeschoolers and traditional-schoolers alike – might find helpful as well.

Other times I might talk about how we set up our homeschooling space at our house (since I love geeking out over other people’s organizing pictures and thought some of you guys might, too).

I might even ask for your help in creating resources for teaching my kids, since one of the most humbling aspects of homeschooling is realizing how infinite the world of knowledge is… and how minute my grasp is on it!

While I called this post Homeschooling {on a Budget}, the title is more a nod to the name of this blog — than a statement about the frugality of our homeschool.

In fact, as I mentioned earlier in the year, we have hired a few tutors this year to work with our kids when my husband and I are working. While these tutors have really helped us make homeschooling work for us, they aren’t exactly the thriftiest way to go about things.

So, now that you know I’ll be trying to talk more about this topic, I’d love to hear more about what you want to know. Feel free to leave a comment on this post — or shoot me an email if you’d rather keep it more private.

Also if I have any  homeschoolers out there who would be interested in sharing their experiences with Jewish homeschooling as a guest poster, please let me know! I’d love to open up this space to more voices!

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. We’re not Jewish, but we’ve homeschooled our children from the beginning. I can tell you that the best way to save money is to reach out to fellow homeschoolers. You can talk curriculum with your in-person friends (which can help you prevent buying curriculum you don’t need) and by joining groups on the internet (bulletin boards and Yahoo groups) you can buy used materials. I’ve found most homeschoolers to be friendly, helpful people. If you’re looking for something in particular, put the word out! Someone may be able to help – or at least have a coupon code to share.
    And don’t forget the library. Librarians can be your best friends. It can also be a good way to test-drive certain materials to decide if they’re worth purchasing.
    Amazon Prime is worth its weight in gold. And ask for educator discounts! So many stores will give you 10, 15, or more off because you are a home-educator.

    • Mara Strom says:

      Such great tips, Loni. I agree 1000% about all of them, including Amazon, the librarians, and not being afraid to ask for help from fellow homeschoolers.

      Sometimes it can hard in the Jewish community because homeschooling isn’t yet a very common choice yet (although that is changing a bit). My hope is that KOAB can provide a bit of that sense of community for homeschoolers, would-be homeschoolers and just curious on-lookers!

  2. Hey! We have been homeschooling since September. And partially why we have been successful is due to your awesome advice, so, thank you. That being said, even in this short time we have tweaked and changed curriculum and changed spaces multiple times! Definitely a learning curve.

    • Mara Strom says:

      Rivky – I just wanted to encourage you that the learning curves starts to level out a bit in the second year. There are so many things that are better this year for us than they were last year. Hiring help in the morning (when I’m working) is a big part of that, but overall, I feel like things are running more smoothly, I’m more confident in myself and our kids are more settled in.

      The first year, especially if kids were in a traditional school to begin with, is really challenging for them, too. They’re testing you, the boundaries, and themselves constantly. This year, I’ve found that my kids are a bit less squirrely!

  3. My son attends public school due to learning disabilities. We found a Rabbi who has been a tremendous help to us in the Hebrew studies. (Limudai Kodesh). This is the article and contact information about him. I think he would be a wonderful resource for home schoolers. He uses Skype and join.me to tutor my son as we live in different cities.

    • Devorah: Thank you for sharing this information! My son also has learning disabilities and I am finding the schools in Florida- we are at a Jewish day school, now- are not meeting our needs. I am so afraid that if/when I try to HS my son, I will not be able to come close to his day school, in teaching him his Hebrew studies. Having such a resource to reach out to, is so helpful. Thank you! One more wonderful resource to add to my ever-growing list. Because I have all these little sticky notes, with info scribbled on them, my husband keeps asking me why I don’t use a bigger piece of paper or, {gasp!} a notebook!

  4. What led you to homeschool? Frugal living? Lifestyle? Do you feel this is a good alternative to day school? How do you help you make sure your kids have enough social interactions? Are you part of a homeschool collaborative?

    • Mara Strom says:

      Devorah — You may want to check out this homeschool FAQ that I wrote last year, since I do talk a lot about what led us to this decision. http://kosheronabudget.com/the-homeschool-faq/

      I always say that no school is perfect, not even homeschool. There are positives and negatives to every choice. For now, where we are, this seems like the best choice for our family (i.e. more positives than negatives).

      We’re not a part of a homeschool collective, as there is only one other Jewish family that I know currently homeschooling in our community — and their kids are all older than mine. They are veteran homeschoolers, thought, so they’re an amazing source of information and resources for me.

      (Also, I’m more of an introvert, so the thought of a collective isn’t as appealing to me as it might be to another parent.)

      As far as socialization, we’re lucky in that our children were at the dayschool previously, so they still have friends from there — whom they see all the time. Also, because Kansas City is a fairly small community, the kids are all a very close-knit group. Both our boys see their friends at shul, sports practice and playdates constantly.

  5. Hi Mara – Thanks so much for sharing your homeschool resources. It sounds like KS gives a lot of support to homeschoolers, which is awesome! My biggest challenge is keeping one child engaged while I work with the other. I’m interested in hearing about the meaningful independent activities that you use for your kiddos (mine are 4.5 and 6). Thanks!

    • Mara Strom says:

      This is immensely challenging for us, too, and our kids are older. I have a hard time teaching them in the same room, unless they are learning together. Our history, curriculum, for example, is taught to both of them (once a week), as is science and geography. But math, reading, spelling, and Hebrew language are all taught separately. I literally take one kid with me at a time into our school room, because the cross-chatter with both of them together was driving me nuts!

      Our oldest is able to study/do independent assignments when I’m working with his younger brother. Our 8 year old still really needs one-on-one instruction, so he either shoots hoops outside or now that it’s winter, honestly, he plays a lot of XBox games. He’s just starting to read independently, so he does a bit of that as well and that will hopefully increase into the spring.

      I’m sorry – I know that doesn’t really help with your 4.5 year old when you need to work independently with your 6 year old. I think it’s possible that this is just the “muddle through it” phase. Do you have an iPad? We don’t, but I’m strongly considering getting one for school – the apps are fabulous, and I know that I can choose what they work on, but they’ll still be psyched about the screen time.

  6. Sara-Leah Haber says:

    Hi Mara
    My story is a little different because I home-schooled my autistic son for 3 years following the Son-Rise Program. I would be willing to write about it if you think you have enough of a client interest but obviously it only targets a specific population.

  7. As a former homeschooled kid, I have to tell you it was an amazing part of my childhood. We did it because ours local frum school closed down. When my family then moved we went to a regular school and I was way above level for secular studies (with a few minor exceptions) and “ok” in Judaic, but that was because we learned 2 completely different curriculums… I was ahead in some areas but totally behind in others.
    As a parent, I definitely would do it if there were no “good” schools locally but there are choices here and will find one we like. Socially, our kid wouldn’t have friends if not for school… Just the way my community is built…

    • Mara Strom says:

      We’re lucky in that our children were at the dayschool previously, so they still have friends from there — whom they see all the time. Also, with a small community, the kids are a very close-knit group, so they see each at shul, sports practice and playdates constantly.

      The socialization is always a big question when people hear we homeschool, but fortunately that hasn’t proven to be an issue for us yet.

Leave a Comment

*