Yes, knowledge is good. Yes, we want our children to be educated to do what God has planned for them. However, reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic is not what the Bible refers to as perfect religion.
What the Bible does refer to as perfect religion: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27 (NASB)
The Second In Our List Of How To Serve
Do you know a widow? How about a single mom who has been abandoned by her husband? I have seen the Bible define an orphan as one without a father, not just children w/o any parents. There are also 1000’s of children in the foster care system that one could consider an orphan, even if the parents still live.
This is where our time should be spent. This is where our heart should be. If you homeschool, you most likely have the time to adopt at least one family or one child to bless. They need you more than you need to complete every page of that workbook. It could be something as simple as taking their children once a month so that mom can have a day to herself. If you have ever spent a few weeks with your children w/o a spouse and/or grandparent to give some time, you will understand what I am saying here.
Maybe they need some supplemental food or household necessities each month. Maybe they need your families hand-me-downs. Maybe they need help with their homeschool. Maybe they just need a few people to understand the challenges they face.
In the end, although we want to be diligent to educate out children, God has made it clear what really matters.
If you know of a widow or single mom who homeschools or wants to homeschool and needs help, contact the HSLDA Ambassador Program or the HSLDA Widows Curriculum Fund. If you know if any other resources for widows and single moms, please let us know in the comments.
Recently, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Jen Elgin of Classic Homeschool and getting an opportunity to review a couple of her Homeschool Lapbook Unit Studies. In the case of this review, we selected one of the animal studies: Wolves.
Overview Of The Wolves Lapbook / Unit Study
The Wolves Lapbook is available for purchase through Jen’s Etsy Shop, Created4Fun, as a digital download. After receiving the download in PDF format, we opened the document and scanned through it. The study includes:
Intro / cover
A sample photo of what the finished lapbook could look like
What subjects will be covered (i.e. Biology / Zoology, language arts, art, etc…)
A book list (fiction and non-fiction)
A movie list
An internet resource list
A vocabulary list
A set of lapbook pieces and the corresponding actions and activities
We then printed up each of the activity pages, picked up books from the library, then scanned through the books to find the answers or resource for each activity. After all the activity pieces were filled out, we then cut them out and glued them into our lapbook (folder).
Feedback on the Lapbook
My children were very happy to take a few days off from our regular workbook studies to do a unit study. There is something about this format that generates real interest in the subject at hand. The girls spent a few hours going through the books to find out where wolves lived, what they liked to eat, what their lifecycle was, and much more. They have also spent a few hours during the week reading some of the fiction books (“Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”) and watching a couple of videos involving wolves.
My only criticism for the study is I would have liked a little more… maybe a few more cutouts and activities or even some non-lapbook specific activity suggestions would have made the study fuller and made me feel like I was getting a complete value out of the study.
How You Can Engage Classic Homeschool
If you would like to see what other studies are available from Classic Homeschool, visit their Created4Fun Etsy Shop. They have American Girls studies (which we are reviewing one of next), lots of animals, Magic Tree House book studies, and more.
Their blog, Classic Homeschool, has more about their lapbooks and unit studies, homeschool information, and homeschool freebies.
As many homeschool families survive on a single income, it’s vital to make the most of your homeschool budget. Yet, the old adage “You get what you pay for” also applies in most cases. Where does a mom draw the line between the two? Having homeschooled through high school and most often on a very limited budget, I’ve learned a few lessons about stretching those homeschool dollars.
Use literature-based curriculum for teaching literature and history. I even used whole books to teach science through middle school. I also used literature and other whole books to teach my children about writing and spelling skills. By using literature and whole books, you can utilize your library which means your core books are free! Train Up a Child Publishing has well developed, reasonably priced literature based units and lesson plans. Full Disclosure: Beth is one of the authors of some of the TUACP materials, but I don’t receive any sort of compensation for curriculum sales.
Check out interlibrary loan. The reference department of your library can provide the details. Did you know you can often get textbooks from libraries all over the country? It takes a bit of planning ahead (some interlibrary loans take several weeks), but you can often extend your borrowing time by telling them you’re an educator.
If you know you or your child have a weak area, prioritize your budget to cover that weakness. This is most important in high school, where your child will receive credit, to make sure you have someone covering bases that you can’t. Many parents are finding that “free” high school classes offered by colleges and other organizations don’t actually teach their high school children, but just offer instructional information. Having a real teacher is essential in those tough areas. Accountability definitely matters when you share the responsibility of educating your children with another organization or teacher.
Use your gifts to barter with other educators. At Classes by Beth, we currently have one of our teachers and another member of our support staff who work for tuition. It’s a win-win and allows those moms to use their budget in a more creative way. It can never hurt to ask when you’re considering using a specific company’s materials or services. You may have gifts that they can’t afford to purchase.
Avoid impulse buying of non-essentials. I really struggled with attending homeschool conventions because I found myself wanting to buy “fun” or creative items for our schooling. Even smaller, less expensive items add up when you buy a few of them. I quickly learned to make sure I had covered all of my essentials before even considering those types of purchases. I also found that the fun items were often put aside quickly, while the essentials provided what my children truly needed.
Check out referral opportunities for educational companies that you utilize. For example, with Classes by Beth, we provide direct tuition credit for moms who refer their friends and those friends register for class. It’s a great way to support a company you appreciate and help your family benefit as well.
Share curriculum. If you have friends whose children are different ages than yours, consider purchasing curriculum together to share. This worked well for me with foreign language. When all of the children have finished using the curriculum, sell it and split the income. One suggestion: if you split the curriculum cost, the other mom will be less likely to decide to use something else later and leave you footing the bill.
A Special Offer For A Simple Life Too Readers
As a special offer for readers of this post, Classes by Beth will give any reader who registers for at least one 2015-16 CBB class 5 free Momshops (online live workshops covering a variety of topics). Readers who register for more than one class will receive all 10 of our Momshops for free! Just use the code simplelife in the Referral box on the CBB registration form. Remember to choose courses that will take pressure off of you and allow your child to grow by being taught by an instructor passionate about teaching. That way you’re using your homeschool budget wisely!To participate in another free course giveaway, subscribe to the CBB blog by June 30th and you’ll be entered in our giveaway of seven different gifts, including two free classes.
Disclosure: This guest post is from Beth of Classes By Beth. Subscribe to her blog and check out her Middle and High-school Homeschool classes today!
I don’t know about you, but when I first started thinking about homeschooling my children, I went on the hunt for as much information about homeschooling as I could get. I mostly found myself being given books by friends, checking a few out from the library, and purchasing a couple. I also started to look over homeschool magazines, catalogs, and websites.
The following list is my top 5 books that helped me get started homeschooling and continue to help me plan my homeschool each year.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
1 – Mary Pride’s Complete Guide To Getting Started Homeschooling – Although a little outdated, this “tome” of everything homeschooling answers all the questions of a new homeschool parent and gives lots of resources useful for annual homeschool planning. It is still on our bookshelf and I will probably keep it as long as I homeschool.
2 – The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola – After getting an overview of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling from Mary’s book (see #1), I wanted to know more and this book, The Charlotte Mason Companion gave me the deeper understanding I wanted. Although our homeschool is eclectic vs. just Charlotte Mason style, this book was still useful to give me a foundation of what a quality home education could look like.
3 – Cathy Duffy 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum – Cathy Duffy helps you walk through a process of evaluating your family and children for vision, learning styles, etc… then helps you select curriculum based on those factors. Our family really needs to get a copy of this book for our permanent homeschool bookshelf as we re-evaluate our homeschool each year.
4 – Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach – As our family has an interest in Hebrew Roots of our faith and a desire to make our homeschool Bible-centric, a friend of ours shared this book. It is a philosophy of a Hebraic approach to homeschooling (which looks a lot like Charlotte Mason meets Unit Studies) and a how to create your own studies using the Bible and living books. Unfortunately, I am have not been in a position to create my own studies to date, so this book mostly just helped us create our homeschool philosophy. However, if you want to create your own delight directed or Biblical based unit studies, I recommend it!
5 – The Old Schoolhouse Annual Print Magazine – I understand, this is a magazine and not a book, but the fact that it only comes out once per year in print format and that it is nearly 300 pages in length, I consider it a book. A very current and useful book, full of articles to encourage and instruct, and lots of ads of new and old curriculum and other resources. We get a copy every year.
What is your favorite and/or most useful homeschool book? Or, if you are new to homeschoolig, what is one pressing question you need to have answered?
Do you face any challenges with your homeschool? Are you not sure you even CAN homeschool? Are your challenges physical issues? Financial? Do you feel you lack the education or simply don’t have the personality to homeschool? Maybe you have child with special needs?
I am here to share with you that if I can homeschool through all of our families challenges, you probably can to!
Homeschooling From The Bottom 10%
I recently read an article in the 2015 print edition of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine – “Getting Started: Light A Fire”. In the article, Dr. Heather W. Allen uses some statistics from NCES – the National Center For Education Statistics, including Gross Family Income of Homeschool families. Guess what? Our family’s income was in the bottom 10% of all homeschoolers. Or to be clear, 90% of homeschool families make more money / have more income per year than our family. And yet here I am, paying for my children’s homeschool, staying home instead of working outside of the home, and somehow still living decently off of our meager income.
Now, do I love being in the bottom 10%? Not really. Do I wish we did have some of the things that most others have, like more choices in curriculum or a second car to go do more field trips and activities? Yes! Will I stop homeschooling to have more money? NO WAY.
God convicted me to homeschool, God promised to provide at least the basics of what we need, and He has made good on His promises. And so I continue on, even though it isn’t easy.
Homeschooling From a Broken Background
Unfortunately, I come from another “bottom” group, although you won’t find this one in the statistics article. This is my background. There seems to be this thought out there that homeschoolers must come from happy, well adjusted, Christian homes to be able to do what they do. I did not. I came from a completely broken background – abuse, divorce, no encouragement, public school bullying and teasing, addiction, and more. I come from a place where most people would never consider that I could turn out to be someone who follows God and who homeschools.
I am not a woman of patience, an encouraging attitude, perseverance, discipline, gentleness, etc… And yet, God has been instilling these things in me throughout this process. He has been working them out in me by homeschooling. I literally change month by month, year by year, as I commit to the course.
I really am a story of Beauty From Ashes. When once, many years ago I did not even WANT children, I now find myself delighting in teaching them, spending time with them, growing them, and seeing them get to do and experience a better life than I ever did.
All Is Certainly Not Perfect
I still have much growing to do. We are still in our first years of homeschooling (4 so far) and I know there is much for ME to learn and change. I have encountered some serious challenges the past two years, mainly physical with a miscarriage and now a challenging pregnancy, but also a relational and spiritual setback.
My patience is a little “soft” right now and I have to repent and try again daily. I have seen that I have not been encouraging the children as well as I could and have been negative towards them at times. Again, I have to repent daily and try again. I have wanted to give up so many times, but I can’t and I won’t. So sometimes, we lighten the load and sometimes, we take a week off. Sometime mom just needs a day to do something different. We do whatever it takes and still make forward progress.
Even with our imperfection and struggles, we still get complimented out in public at how well behaved (not great, but better than average) our children are, how happy they seem, how sharp they are, and how quick they are to make friends with those who they meet.
No, not perfect, but worth keeping on for.
If anything I said resonated with you, please let me know.
As I recently posted in Celebrating Biblical Holidays: Pentecost, Pentecost is May 24th. If you aren’t too familiar with Pentecost, not sure how to observe the day, or would just like to know more so you can incorporate it into your homeschool, I have searched for some resources for you. And of course, these resources are a deal, meaning they are on sale and/or being sold for a discount.
A few times in the school year, we will take a break from some of our regular homeschool lineup to do a missions related Unit Study. We love to learn about current needs around the world for ministry and we also enjoy learning about past missions and Missionaries. In this recent case, we did a Unit Study of the Missionary Amy Carmichael, using materials from YWAM.
HEROES FOR YOUNG READERS – Activity Guide (for books 5 – 8). This activity book actually covers 4 heroes, including Amy. We will be doing Corrie ten Boom next. The activities for the study for Amy include:
Character studies with craft projects
Facts about the country she mainly ministered in (India), including map work
Activities to re-enforce what was read, including matching and crossword puzzle
There is also a CHRISTIAN HEROES: THEN & NOW – Unit Study Curriculum Guide for Amy Carmichael. Since our children are all under 10, we used the Heroes For Young Readers Activity Guide.
HEROES FOR YOUNG READERS – Amy Carmichael: Rescuing the Children. This is the young reader book we used for suggested ages 5 – 10.
CHRISTIAN HEROES: THEN & NOW – Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems. This is the reader for older readers. We did not need it for this study per say, but if you have adults or older children who want to get a more in-depth study of Amy’s life and work, this is great to have.
THE TORCHLIGHTERS DVD – The Amy Carmichael Story – She Rescued the Children One by One. This is an optional component to the study, but so brings the story to life for the children and also contains a documentary.
On the first day of the study, we read the Heroes For Young Readers book together, then we did two activities from the activity book. On the second day of the study, we watched the video and did a couple more activities. On the last day of the study (these were not consecutive days), we watched the documentary and did a couple more activities. We did not do all of the activities, but most.
My oldest (8) read some of the Christian Heroes Then and Now book on her own time and narrated some of it to me.
I made sure to talk to the children throughout the study about what they were learning, hearing and catching from it. We had some great discussions.
Comment on the Cost:
We have a very frugal homeschool budget of $100 per child per year (or $300 total, since some curriculum is joint). This unit study went beyond that budget. We consider learning about missions, ministry, and Missionaries an integral part of our children’s growth. Also, since our purchase of the products are through YWAM, the proceeds are going to support current, active Missionaries, and therefore, we consider the purchase also part of our tithing / charitable giving.
You can reduce the cost of the study in the following ways:
Only purchase one of the books. If the majority of your group is younger (4th or 5th grade and below) get the childrens’ book. If your group is older, get the more mature book.
If you have IAMFlix or similar, the Torchlighters video is available on that network so you don’t need to purchase a copy.
You can check with your local library for the book(s) or ask them to order the books for the library, letting you be the first loaner. Same with the video.
You can search for used copies of the book(s), videos, and/or activity books.
Note: This post originally appeared on another blog of mine called Let There Be Math. I had to take a sabbatical from that project for awhile, but I am now incorporating it into A Simple Life.
As I shop again this year for a math curriculum for my elementary aged, homeschooled children, I am put off by the cost of the average homeschool math curriculum. With only a few exceptions, most of the curriculum costs between $35 and $100 per child per grade level.
Now, I understand that good curriculum is worth it, but many homeschool families live off of one income and simply can not afford to spend that much – especially using consumable workbooks for multiple children.
One of the goals of “Let There Be Math” is to be affordable, but still of value and quality.
Until “Let There Be Math” is ready for publication, here are 5 Math Curriculum under $30 (links are to the first in the series):
One other way to get a math curriculum for less than $30 is to only get the workbooks for many of the popular curriculum like Rod and Staff, Saxon Math and A Beka, and not purchase a teacher’s guide, tests, etc… However, as the grade levels go up, unless you are a math wiz, it will take more and more time to verify the students work. A book with answers included can be a blessing. We choose to use A Beka this year w/o the teachers guide.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
A blogger friend of mine, thinking of homeschooling, recently asked our blogger group what we used for our homeschools. This post is for her and anyone else that would like to learn from what we are successfully using in our homeschool this year.
Our homeschool family: 3 girls – one in Kindergarten, one in 2nd grade and one in 3rd grade.
Our challenges this year: I, the homeschool mom, am having a “difficult pregnancy” and am due the end of June. I am on rest and light activity only. I have very little energy or strength.
Our philosophy: to teach our kids about God and what He created each of them to be and do with their lives, to teach them to be productive, useful, serving, and free from things like debt and entitlement. We also find it important to teach them practical skills as much as academics, including how to maintain a household and to start and run their own businesses. We teach them that they, at least to a degree, have a choice between reward and chastening, between blessing and cursing, between life and death.
Disclosure: some links in this post are affiliate links.
Math: We are currently using A Beka for 2nd grade and 3rd grade math. To save money, I skipped purchasing the Teacher’s Guides. Other than a couple of exercise here and there, I have not found that I need them. Cost of each book was $16.95.
Reading: The library. We make a monthly trip to the library to get fiction and non-fiction books that the children enjoy and fits our set of criteria for acceptable reading. I review / scan everything before they read it. We also peruse thrift stores and used book stores to add some classics and such to our small home collection of books.
When we teach reading, we use phonic flash cards and Bob books to start. I used Rod and Staff 1st grade phonics curriculum last year when I had a 1st grader. I am still debating if this is what I will use next year for my kindergartener. The first year we used the Rod and Staff phonics curriculum, it was given to us as a gift. The readers and teachers guides are reusable.
Writing: Pentime Penmanship – I have the girls back one year as their writing / printing is their weak point. So the 2nd grader is on grade 1 printing and the 3rd grader is on grade 2 transition from printing to cursive. The girls like the dot-to-dots and little saying that are on the pages with the writing practice, makes it more interesting. These only cost $5.50 each.
Spelling: Sequential Spelling Level 1 – The volumes do not correspond to years and contain more than one years worth of work. We will get halfway through the book this year for my 3rd grader and the second half next year. Its cost was about $20.00
Art: We are using A Beka Art Project workbooks this year for the 3rd grader and the 2nd grader. Lots of fun and very colorful projects. There is some supplies to purchase, which has been a challenge for us and we don’t celebrate all the holidays they cover, so we have skipped quite a few projects, but there are so many, we couldn’t do them all anyway. They were $12.95 each.
History / Social Studies: We do a group / unit study type history called Story Of the World – Vol 1 – The Ancient World. The girls love how the book reads like a story, we use questions and narration to reinforce, there are coloring pages and map work, and finally, a choice of hands on projects to make the history come alive. We got the book and activity book used as a gift.
Music: We were using Music for Little Mozarts Volume 2, but the children were fighting it and I did not have the energy to continue. So now we use YouTube for vocal warm-ups, sing alongs, and occasionally a beginning ballet or tap lesson.
Kindergarten: All three of my girls have loved their Rod and Staff A – J Kindergarten Workbook series, and the latest one is no exception. She also participates in the Science and History unit study curriculum to her ability. We get picture books from the library and I read to her. I am teaching her numbers, letters and basic phonic combos with flash cards. The Kindergarten workbooks were less than $40.00 for the 10 workbook set.
We occasionally do some special, short term unit studies, but that is for another post:-)
I confess that I have enough complexities in my life, homeschooling doesn’t need to be one of them. I have worked and learned over the past few years to make homeschooling as simple, and as few hours as possible. Therefore, I have coined the phrase: Super Simple Homeschooling. I am sure someone else came up with this too, maybe quite a few others. But since I haven’t seen it in the mainstream yet, I can state that I wasn’t influenced by anyone else:-)
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links.
2) The reading and writing is supportive of a younger group – my children are K, 2nd, and 3rd grades.
3) The stories are engaging, the projects are interesting and fun.
How We Do Our Homeschool History
With the exception of Math and Language Arts which we do twice a week, we do the rest of our subjects only once per week. We then divide up a chapter of Story of the World over two weeks.
1) Week 1 – Reading the story, asking the discussion and narration questions, deciding which project we want to do and making a list of supplies needed, and deciding which additional reading we want to get from the library. Sometime during the week we will get the library books, so in some ways, history is done a second day, but not formally.
The photo is of two of the girls making an Assyrian Siege Tower with legos. This is from chapter 16 of SOTW V. 1 – The Ancient Times. The girls still remember that Assyria was able to conquer their enemies because Assyria was great at making these towers.
If you aren’t loving your history or if your history is too complicated, I recommend trying SOTW!