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Monday, July 19, 2010

Homeschooling- the Poverty Fix (Part 1)

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This is Part 4 in my Poverty Cycle series.

When talking about getting out of the poverty cycle, I casually wrote that I believe homeschooling to be a big part of coming out of the poverty cycle, at least for my family. Some might scoff at that and think it a bit absurd, but if you follow my reasoning, you might begin to understand and probably even agree that in our family's case, homeschooling should give our children the boost they need to improve their financial lot in life.

Homeschooling As A Poverty Fix


Our Limited Earning Potential
My husband and I don't bring in a lot of cash. One of the biggest reasons for this is because not because of limited potential, but rather, because neither of us have advanced our education very far.

When my husband and I got married, me at 18 and him at 20, I had a total of one year of college under my belt, and he no college and no high school diploma either (yes, a high school drop out). Aside for a short stint in our country's military, my husband really had no marketable skills, work experience, or background to assist him in being the breadwinner for our family.

I, on the other hand, did have a decent amount of work experience under my belt, so I had no big issue finding a job once I was married. I'm a quick learner and soon became a great dental assistant and an asset to my boss, even without any formal training. However, when I found myself pregnant 3 months after taking on the job, and was assailed by debilitating morning sickness, I ended up needing to quit, as assisting in oral surgeries and nausea do not go well together.
I realized then that, although I have more earning potential than my husband, we wouldn't be able to rely on my being able to assist with an income for our family, as I planned on having more than that one child, and who knew if I'd be able to work during future morning sickness. To top it off, I do believe that unless there is no other choice, a mother primarily should be the one at home with her children and running the household, so as long as I had little kids in the house, my place would be at home, even if it meant that I wouldn't be raising

My husband's earning potential is limited because of his educational background. I'll expand on that in my next post, but now, in order to increase his income potential, he would need to learn all that high school material that he missed, get a high school diploma and go to college to earn a degree. Alternatively, my husband could also learn a non academic trade.
The problem with both is that even if he gets a full scholarship to be able to learn these things, learning them would mean taking time off of work to be able to study, time that unfortunately my husband doesn't have. (He works even on the weekends, so he can't simply use "downtime" as a time to do these things.)
Well meaning people suggest that he could do that, and "it would be tough, but with a bit of hard work he could do it" and that it was worth "making things a bit harder temporarily to improve things in the long run."

What people don't get is that when things are already as tight as they can possibly be, when you already have to pinch your pennies to extremes that seem unimaginable to others just so you can make it through the month, there simply is no way you can cut that already limited income, even if it is for the purpose of increasing your earning potential.
Sometimes there simply isn't any more wiggle room in the budget or any places to cut further, even if you see the benefits that doing so would cause. (Before you mention moving back in with our parents, we've asked. It's not doable.)

For now, we're resigned that we'll have to make do on our minimal income. My husband is looking into some work study programs so he'd be able to earn an income while learning a trade, but we haven't found anything promising yet. We've come to terms with the fact that we'll probably never be wealthy, and while we're open to methods of increasing our salary, our real goal in stopping this poverty cycle is via our specific plans as to how we'll educate our children.


Religious Factors

Yes, my husband and I married young without many marketable skills, and that plays a big part in our ability to bring in an income. For all that this is the case, we don't regret marrying young and it is quite likely that our children would marry young as well, and we'd fully support them in that.

We're religious people who believe in modesty between the sexes. Premarital relations is a big no-no in our books, and we don't promote long term dating specifically for that reason. We're human, and asking two people in a loving relationship to put their physical desires on hold for a few years so they can first accomplish whatever it is they'd wanted to finish pre-marriage is simply not realistic or doable for most people.

While I don't plan on rushing my children to get married at the youngest age possible, should they meet the person with whom they'd like to spend the rest of their lives, I would encourage marriage so long as they're mature enough to take responsibility for running their family, even if they're younger than the average newlywed. (Mature enough to marriage in our books includes being willing to find a job to support a family and to try to be as self sufficient as possible, without expecting Mom and Dad to run in after you and clean up your messes.)
Once married, in our circles, family planning is usually not done, especially before having at least a child or two. Therefore, we'd assume that barring unforeseen circumstances, once married our children will probably have kids of their own within a short time.

Because of our religious upbringings and beliefs, Mike and I married young without much earning potential. While we don't regret marrying young, we do wish that we had more earning potential by the time we'd gotten married. By homeschooling, our children will likely have the ability, already from a young age, to support a family, should they decide to get married.


Homeschooling To Increase Earning Potential

School is a big, fat, waste of time.
Seriously.
If you recall back to your schooling days, how much time was wasted just from taking attendance, doing paperwork and disciplining? I remember it as being quite a whole lot of it.

Now think back to the actual lessons. What percentage of the time was spent reviewing material you'd already mastered for the purpose of helping the struggling students? Conversely, how much time did you spend zoning out, because the teacher went through a topic too quickly for you to grasp it, causing the rest of the material to make no sense to you as you'd missed out on the fundamentals? In such a case, how much extra time at home or with a tutor did you need to spend to simply learn all what you'd missed in school because of not understanding the original explanation?

Educators know that homeschooling is a much more efficient use of your time. You can cover the same amount of material in a fraction of the time it takes to do so in school, all the while ensuring proficiency and making sure no child is falling through the cracks.
Because homeschooled kids can cover a lot more material in a shorter length of time, schools that accredit homeschoolers require as few as 80 hours per credit in each subject, when you spend many times that amount to earn just one credit in school (and even more if you count homework hours).

I was homeschooled for one year and managed to finish 90% of my required high school credits in just that one year. Homeschooled kids can graduate earlier. Much earlier, and they still cover all the same material you would have in a traditional school, just in a fraction of the time. By graduating early, they can go to a local college even from a very young age, having a degree under their belt at a much younger age than is typical.

For now I only have boys, but I do plan on encouraging my daughters to learn a trade that they can do from the home so that they'd be able to bring in an income even while raising their children at home.
If my children are more technically inclined and prefer to work with their hands instead of advancing in academics, I'd encourage them to apprentice with someone who works in a field that interests them, so they they can learn on the job and get in some work experience. This can be instead of, or in addition to going to college.
By the time our children get married, even if they decide to do so at a young age, they'll be able to have an advanced education to assist them in supporting their family.
By homeschooling, our children won't be put in the position to have to choose between compromising religious standards, skipping that education, juggling college with marriage and kids, or passing up on marrying their soul mate.

At least in our situation, homeschooling will definitely help break out of the poverty cycle.

There are definitely more reasons why homeschooling helps break the poverty cycle, but that'll have to be for another post.

Do you think its better to focus on our children's future or on increasing our income now? If you think we should be focusing on increasing our income, do you have any tangible suggestions on how to actually go to school to increase earning potential when you're already working many, many hours to have enough money to live on, and you're already cutting back as much as you can? Suggestions would be appreciated.
Do you know anyone who has gone to college at a young age? Do you think that in our case, doing so would be a good idea?

The Poverty Cycle-
Poor People Start Behind in Life
Common Mistakes of the Poor
Breaking the Poverty Cycle
Homeschooling- the Poverty Fix
Homeschooling- Increasing Income Potential- Coming Soon!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't go to college at a young age, but I was homeschooled until Grade 8, we used the provincial curriculum which tended to take a long time to finish, but my mother only had grade 8 (and learned to read at age 23) and my father worked for the railway with only grade12. I graduated from public high school and now have 2 degrees (one in education). I think socialization is important but school doesn't have to be where it happens, I would recommend homeschooling for anyone willing to put up the effort so long as they recognize their personal weaknesses and make effort to support their children in those areas. Good for you for putting your children welfare before your material desires.

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