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Oh the Places You’ll Learn! Five Tips to Organizing Your Homeschool

Oh, the bane of our existence! OR the cause of swoon – worthy ogling of Staples’s shelves! Whether your mantra is “I know it’s here somewhere” or you’re an everything-in-its-place, color coded planner junkie, one thing’s clear: In order to manage an effective homeschool, maintaining a sense of order is key. Here are a few practical ways to preside over your family’s educational and extracurricular lives while keeping clutter and paperwork at bay.

You need a plan

Kudos if you’ve already got a system in place!  For those of you who don’t, you’ll be surprised at how very helpful  a  planner, calendar and/ or a  checklist system is, once you establish what feels natural to you. For littles, a weekly chore chart system, complete with large pictures and easily checked- off boxes works well AND incorporates the kids pitching in with house work. For the older set, a color coded dry erase monthly calendar in a highly trafficked area has proven its efficiency many times in our family. A quick glance at the shelves of any office supply mega store and you’ll be in heaven plotting out who-gets-what-color on the weekly or monthly family calendar! Since I’m a huge planner devotee, I  also carry a pocket organizer in my bag. The boxes on the calendar are just big enough to jot down everyone’s commitments. If you’re more into scheduling digitally, there are many apps to add to your phone that will keep your family’s appointments and deadlines in one place. Streamlining is vital, regardless as to the tool you use.

You need records

Test records,  children’s portfolios,  year to year files, that is. Have a space in a file drawer or magazine holder  for your school year and your long-term records and plans. Depending on what your state requires, you may need to save portfolios or grade level files for longer than the school year. Be sure to have a designated space for this. And consider saving reports you’ve sent to your district in digital form in more than one file in case of computer error.

You need a command center

Do you regularly have to go somewhere else to get what you need to accomplish? Or, worse yet, are you hunting down a workbook, bill, art supply or calculator?  Ask yourself if items can be stored closer at hand, or if it would be practical to have  duplicate items kept at the task location.

You need to simplify housework

Declutter and free yourself from “stuff.” That chore chart  system?  Let it help you  narrow down  household routines or stop you from getting off-task in your housework.

Streamline the kitchen. Gain counter and drawer space by paring down the number of gadgets you own and don’t – or rarely  – use. Get rid of extra cookbooks that haven’t seen the light of day since Christmas 1995. Throw out  that horrid assortment of fake-Tupperware and purchase  a few matching sets that stack and match. (I bought several at the Dollar Tree for a super minimal investment! ) Make your kitchen kid-friendly. If you want them to fix their own breakfast, put the cereal or other breakfast items where they can reach them.

Do you struggle with organizing your homeschool? Here are 5 tips to help you whip your homeschool space into shape!

You need to whip your homeschool room into shape

Wow, there are so many fun ways to do this! At a very low cost, you can purchase colorful and practical crates, bins, magnets, dividers, stands, racks, pins, plastic page protectors, binders, magazine holders and more!  Tackle  paperwork now instead of later. We homeschool moms have a herculean task managing paper. Have one location for library books  such as a labeled library basket. Remind the children to always return books/videos to that location. Tape to the basket a list of the library materials your family has checked out to be sure you have all the books upon your return trip. Give each child his/her labeled book basket which will contain texts, workbooks, papers and supplies as well. Teach the children to manage their paperwork. And regularly  walk them through the purging/organizing process. As for your home library? Alphabetize your fiction, categorize your history by era and your science by topic. At one point, we owned  just over 6,000 books. Your family may scoff at the “unnecessary” time you are “making” them  spend on categorizing. But they’ll come to realize it’s essential when someone is looking for The Red Badge of Courage or Washington’s farewell address or animal skeletal systems and voila! Found immediately!

There’s not a magic formula to manage your home and your homeschool. Organization is individualistic and creative and   just one way to help us function efficiently. I wish you many “a-ha” moments when you find what works well for you and your home!


Author: Chris Capolino

A bit about me?   Wife, mom, writer, teacher, traveler, party giver, encourager.  I’m a freelance writer who contributes  to a variety of digital and print media. And   I love blogging  all things family,  faith, travel,  homeschool, crafts at  my home on the web, Campfires and Cleats

If you’d  like to contact me, you can do that right here~ campfiresandcleats@gmail.com.

How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?

One of the most common questions I hear from those interested in homeschooling is “How much does homeschooling cost?” The answer is always the same, how much do you want it to cost? 

One of the most common questions I hear from those interested in homeschooling is “How much does homeschooling cost?” The answer is always the same, “How much do you want it to cost?”

Homeschooling is a choice. You are choosing to educate your children at home. The reasons why you made that choice will vary, but the bottom line is when you homeschool, the ball is in YOUR court. You get to decide how much homeschooling is going to cost you.

Depending on what curriculum you choose homeschooling can cost a little or a lot. Many families use free resources for the bulk of their homeschooling, others buy boxed curriculum sets, or piece their curriculum together. Homeschooling costs for teens tend to be more expensive than homeschooling elementary school students.

Resources You May Need to Homeschool

There are a variety of resources you may need to homeschool. Notice I say *may*. This is because every family will have different needs, interests, and income available to purchase resources.

  • Curriculum
  • Map
  • School supplies like glue, pencils, crayons, folders, paper, etc
  • Globe
  • Protractor
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Microscope
  • Computers
  • School Space Organization Resources
  • Books

Expenses You Will No Longer Have Once You Homeschool

One thing to keep in mind when you begin homeschooling is that you will no longer have these expenses:

  • Back to School Clothes
  • School Fundraisers
  • Transportation
  • School Lunches

People tend to forget about the fact that public school isn’t always “free”. Keeping up with joneses, buying school fundraisers, hauling kids back and forth to school, and paying $3-5 a day for a school lunch isn’t exactly free. Homeschooling will lower or eliminate most of these costs.

One of the most common questions I hear from those interested in homeschooling is “How much does homeschooling cost?” The answer is always the same, how much do you want it to cost?

Additional Ways to Save Money While Homeschooling

There are also other ways to save money in regards to homeschooling. Here are few ways that I have found.

  • Buy Used
  • Teach Children Together
  • Save Curriculum for Other Children
  • Borrow From Friends
  • Utilize Free and Affordable Materials

Thanks to these things I have never spent more than $400 buying curriculum for all three of my children. I expect this cost may go up as my children get older.

The bottom line is that when you homeschool YOU have control over how much homeschooling will cost you. Your child can have a quality education no matter how much or how little you spend. Homeschooling gives you freedom! And perhaps, instead of asking how much homeschooling will cost, we should ask ourselves what our children will gain from homeschooling. 

Related Posts:

30+ Stores That Offer Discounts for Homeschoolers

Homeschooling for Free

Is Public School Cheaper Than Homeschooling?


Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

Homeschooling an Only Child

Just because homeschooling an only child is not common doesn’t mean that it is not possible. In fact there are advantages to homeschooling an only child.
In the homeschooling community, most families have 2-3 children. It is far from uncommon to see families with 5 or more children. However, what you rarely see are families with only one child. If you are one of them, you might feel like your family is the odd one out. It might even make you feel like perhaps homeschooling is not the best option for you. After all, if it were, wouldn’t there be more families like yours that do it? However, just because homeschooling an only child is not common doesn’t mean that it is not possible.

Advantages of Homeschooling an Only Child

Better Time Management

When you only have one child, you don’t have to worry about having to juggle your time or different curricula. There are no worries about whether you are spending enough time with each child. You also don’t have to worry about fitting in extracurricular activities for multiple children. In fact, you will probably have more time for more activities since you don’t have to work one child’s activities around the activities of another. In short, there are fewer time constraint.

More One-On- One Time

Another time advantage when you have one child is that your child will get unlimited one-on-one time with you. You are better able to provide them with a truly customized homeschool experience because you do not have to divide your time or attention between multiple children.

More Financial Freedom

When you only have one child, you will likely be able to do more with your money. This means that you will have more freedom when it comes to choosing your curriculum and the activities that they will engage in. You will also likely save more money when you only have to spend money on one child. You don’t have to buy as many materials and don’t have to spend as much on extracurricular activities.

More Flexibility

When you have one child, you are probably able to be more flexible. If something comes up that you didn’t expect, it is easier to change your plans when you only have one child to worry about, rather than two or more.

No Sibling Rivalry

When you have multiple children, there is sure to be some level of competition or comparison.
When you have an only child, that is not the case. They don’t have to worry about whether they are keeping up with, surpassing, or trailing behind a sibling. They can learn at their own pace.
Just because homeschooling an only child is not common doesn’t mean that it is not possible. In fact there are advantages to homeschooling an only child.

Challenges of Homeschooling an Only Child

Socialization

Although socialization is something that ever homeschool family must consider, it can be an even bigger issue for an only child. In families with multiple children, your kids have built-in playmates in their sibling (even though there might be an age gap). The same does not hold true for only children.

Less Time Freedom

I know that this might sound as though it is contradictory, but it is still true. As we discussed, when you have multiple children, your children are playmates. That means that you might be able to get some work done while they entertain each other. However, when you only have one child, it is likely that YOU are their playmate. That can make it more difficult to get things done around the house.

Tips for Homeschooling an Only Child

Connect with Local Homeschoolers

When it comes to socializing your homeschooler, there are a wide variety of opportunities. However, the best place to start is probably to connect with other homeschoolers in your area. They will likely be able to tell you all about things like co-ops, play groups, and extracurricular activities that your child will love. You should also connect with other parents in the area – regardless of whether they homeschool. By connecting with other parents, you can introduce your child to other kids his or her age.

Don’t Overdo It

Because you might be worried about your only child being socialized, you might be tempted to fill in their schedule with all types of extracurricular activities and playdates. However, it is important to remember that having some alone time is just as important as being socialized. Think about it – you love spending time with your family and friends, yet you also need some time to yourself to unwind. Kids need the same thing.

Sara bio photoSara is a homeschooling mom of three who has been blogging since 2008 at Embracing Destiny. She loves to encourage other homeschool moms with ideas for creative, delight-directed learning. She is also the owner of The Homeschool Post. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Online Public School Vs. Homeschooling

Is online public school the same as homeschooling? No! These are just a few pros and cons comparing online public school to homeschooling.

Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds! It is natural that because more and more people are homeschooling that many of the states are trying to jump in and get some of those children back. This is called an online public school. Some of the online public school options are K12 or Connections Academy. When you decide to make the decision to homeschool a parent may consider an online public school as an option. Here are some of the pros and cons to online public school that may help you make that decision.

The Pros of Online Public School

It’s Free!

Since it is a government run school it is offered at no cost for the parent. This is great if you are on a low budget, and do not have the extra money to help educate your child. Most of the online public schools offer free computers, printers, textbooks, Art and Science supplies and in some cases even voucher money to help pay for the expense of the households internet. If your state offers post secondary options (a local university allows a high school student to attend some college level classes) for public school children your child can attend college for free also.

Your child is learning what everyone else is.

This matters too many parents. If you want to know without a doubt that your child is learning the same thing as the public school kids than online public school is a great fit! This is very helpful if a parent is only keeping their child home temporarily, and they want to ensure their child will easily be able to go back to a brick and mortar public school without missing anything.

A “Real” teacher is in charge.

Many parents feel that they are not able to educate their children at home. However, they still want them at home instead of in a brick and mortar school. With online public school, your child will have a teacher assigned to them. This teacher does all the real work like writing lesson plans, making tests and quizzes, grading most (if not all) the papers, etc. Parents are considered learning coaches. They are there to help the child if they need it and are responsible for making sure the work is done. Also, since it is a government run school students enrolled in online public school receive a high school diploma when they graduate.

You have more Freedom compared to a brick and mortar public school.

Most of the time you get done with school earlier than the other public school kids. You have more time to get the work done. I have friends who do online public school and they may double up some days so they can catch a field trip with our group. Typically online public schools are also more flexible in letting a child work at their own pace. I know a few friends whose children work ahead of where they would be in a brick and mortar public school. Also, as a parent, you have more of a say and are more involved in your child’s education than if they were in a brick and mortar public school.

The Cons of Online Public School

It is public school at home, not homeschooling.

Technically children enrolled in the online public schools are still part of the public school system, even though they are completing their school work at home. This means parents whose children are enrolled in online public school cannot take advantage of homeschool deals and discounts. This article goes more into detail about why public school at home is not homeschooling.

Parents and children are still tied down to all things public school.

These things include traditional calendar, standardized testing, and government curriculum, including common core. Since parents are learning coaches, not teachers, they have no say in their children’s curriculum or schedule. Because of this the child’s unique learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses are not taken into consideration when the lessons are prepared.

It is not a Christian Education.

Many families choose to homeschool for religious beliefs. The government curriculum that is taught in an online public school is not bible based. The state, legally cannot teach children a Christian viewpoint on anything.

Is online public school the same as homeschooling? No! These are just a few pros and cons comparing online public school to homeschooling.

The Pros of Homeschooling

You have freedom!

You can choose your child’s curriculum, school schedule, field trips, learning opportunities, classes and more! You can teach your child a Christian viewpoint if you choose to do so. With homeschooling, the parent really is in charge.

Low Student/Teacher ratio.

You really can’t beat the teacher/student ratio when it comes to homeschooling. In our family it is 3/1 some families are more, some families less. Studies have shown that children learn better with a lower student/teacher ratio. The child can get a more one on one education and has someone available regularly to help them when there is something they don’t understand.

Students learn at their own pace.

With homeschooling, the child really can learn at their own pace. If a child is struggling with a concept they can take the time to master it before moving on. If a child is “ahead” of other children their age they can move forward. The same goes with a child who may be a little behind. A child is not locked into one grade level, but rather has the freedom to work at his own pace.

The Cons of Homeschooling

Price

Compared to the free online public school, homeschooling can be expensive. Price really depends on what you buy, there are some free options out there, but overall homeschoolers spend between $200-500 per student. Some homeschoolers are able to teach their children for free utilizing hand me down curriculum and their public library. Overall though, there are expenses related to homeschooling.

Parents May Struggle Teaching

There may be subjects a parent has trouble teaching. Homeschooling parents must be willing to educate themselves in order to better educate their children. One thing worth mentioning here though is that there are many computer and dvd based programs out there that can help parents teach a subject they may not understand.

When it comes to deciding which school best fits your child, be sure to look into all the options that are available. These are just a few pros and cons comparing online public school to homeschooling.


Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

3 Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Ages

One struggle I hear a lot from homeschool moms, is how in the world they are supposed to homeschool multiple ages. With spans from infants through middle school sometimes, it’s a known struggle that we can’t be in multiple places at once. Through the years I have found three things that have helped me homeschool “all those kids”. These should work regardless of how many kids you have or their ages.

Find Busy Work for the Little Ones

When I first started homeschooling my oldest I was running a daycare. Tools like those I share in this post were a HUGE lifesaver. They came in handy again a few years later when the daycare was gone and my youngest came along.  By giving your tot and preschooler special tools that can only be used at school time you are encouraging them to learn through play, you are making them feel like they are learning right alongside their siblings and you are allowing them to learn skills that will last a lifetime (and they don’t even realize it)! Oh, and you are also doing another important thing-teaching the older ones!

Wondering how to homeschool multiple ages? Here are three tips that can help regardless of how many kids you have, or their ages.

Combine Subjects When Possible

From my first year homeschooling until last year I combined my girls for everything except language art and math. It made homeschooling SO much easier.

Combining multiple ages for subjects like bible, history, and science makes homeschooling SO Much easier on mom.  For example, while learning about pilgrims, the older children can map out the actual voyage, while the younger children cut and paste one of the ships. During a unit study on horses, the older children can diagram the body parts, while the younger children draw a picture of a horse.

Recruit the Older Kids for Help

Whenever possible, get the older kids to pitch in with lessons. My middle has had a great time reading to her brother for story time. My oldest helps drill him on his alphabet cards. One of the benefits of the older kids helping teach the youngers is that they are simultaneously reinforcing their own knowledge and skills.  I have also found that my youngest just listens and sits still better when his sisters are working with him. It makes it seem less like school. When school sometimes runs past the time we are supposed to get done, or one kids needs me while another is free, this has been a huge lifesaver. Don’t underestimate your older kids ability to teach and help with the younger kids.  They are learning valuable life skills while offering you what you need more of-TIME!

Homeschooling multiple ages may seem like an unattainable feat, but it can be done.  In fact, it is done all the time. The vast majority of homeschool families are made up of multiple children and they manage to make it work for them. So can you!


Misty Bailey planned on being a public school teacher, not a work at home, homeschool mom to three. But in 2009 God changed her plans!  She now LOVES helping and encouraging new homeschoolers and sharing everyday tips and encouragement on her blog Joy in the Journey.

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