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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Sample Frugal Homeschool Curriculum

I started a series on frugal homeschooling and then got sick and that got put on pause (still recovering now), but I got a wonderful guest post submission from Carol Schultz, author of "In The Trenches" about the very frugal curriculum she used when homeschooling her son, which I am happy to share with you for inspiration. I have to admit, I'm a bit envious of her kid- it seems like he's got a really great mom full of terrific ideas!

Sample Frugal Homeschool Curricula

Homeschooling does not have to break the budget. In the community I lived there were many homeschool families and the curriculum ranged from extensive prepared programs to do-it-yourselfers. I had home schooled my son in kindergarten using the children's Bible, flash cards, and a deck of playing cards. He was able to read and do simple math problems when he entered first grade.

When he was in the fourth grade I took the plunge again and always remember it as one of the best years of my life. I mapped out the plan of classes and we did approximately 2 hours a day of "school work" and the rest of the day we worked on our projects and activities. Our curricula:

Poster of the Declaration of Independence. Each day we worked on memorizing. He did much better at this than I did.
Constitution Workbook. We picked this up used at a garage sale or book store. We learned about the branches of government, the judicial system, and the electoral college. We attended community political events to see the process in action.
Penmanship Workbook. This was one of my biggest requirements because of all the illegible adult handwriting I had read over the years. Perfect was the standard.
Spanish. We checked out those tapes from the library where you listen and repeat. My favorite series is Learnables and I have since got them in French and Spanish. They would no longer be considered politically correct but maybe a revision has come out since I got mine. I got my first set at the Homeschool store and the remainder on Ebay.
Reading. We checked out books from the library and focused on the early presidents. Andrew Jackson was my favorite. Did you know he had a personal library of over 20,000 books?
Earth Science. Workbook from the Homeschool store.
Math. Fractions was the subject and cooking was the method. We would double and triple recipes, half the recipe, and get a lot of flour on ourselves in the process. This is when we also started going to the farmers market with our homemade jams, pies, and breads. The kids made the change. I was just along as the driver.

Other books and workbooks as we were interested.

Rabbit Business. This was the afternoon project and is written about in In The Trenches. During the initial interest we met a local man who raised rabbits. We went to ask some questions and became friends. He had some old rusty cages that he used a welding torch to clean off the frames. We then rebuilt them and brought them home. Part of the project was to build a new rabbit shed. We designed, measured, obtained scrap materials, and then the building began.
In preparation for the big day I told my son that as far as I knew a person was supposed to be able to drive a nail in three strokes. The first was to tap it into place and the next two were to drive it in. These were 16 penny nails and remember my son was in fourth grade at the time. He practiced and practiced and practiced until he had mastered the task consistently. Finally the day arrived and my cousin came over to help with the shed and be in charge of all the sawing and other heavy stuff. I will never forget when he picked up a hammer and tap, tap, tapped on the nail. I asked what he was doing. Wasn't the nail supposed to be hammered in three strikes? He looked at me with surpise and responded that "yes, maybe, if you're a professional". So the rabbit house was built and the business began. This included buying the initial rabbits from our friend the rabbit man, keeping the books, buying the supplies, and raising and selling the rabbits.

How did we do? At that time we were required to take an annual test through the public school to insure that a child's homeschool learning was at least as good as what the public school was doing. I was a little nervous as I had basically done my own thing and in some ways a little untraditionally. So I waited through the hours of testing he did with all the public school kids.

Results? His lowest score was at the 10th grade level. Most catagories rated in the 12th grade. Since that time I have been a strong advocate of the homeschool process. Our experience was limited to that one year as he was offered a full schlorship to a private school the following year. I'm not sure who learned the most that year, me or him. And, we had fun!

Education is one of the most important issues and responsibilities of parenting. There are many options available including homeschool, private school, tutoring, public school, and alternative schools. Choosing the best alternative each year will provide the academic achievement to maximize the skills of each child. Education is not one size fits all. Each child is special and unique and therefore their educational needs are best served by parents taking the leading role in making these decisions. Homeschooling can be a wonderful and rewarding choice and can be done within the budget.

Carol Schultz-Weil is the author of In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship and has a companion blog located at Inthetrenches2009.blogspot.com.

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