Did you know you can give your kids an exceptional and customized education for less than $400/year?
Homeschooling is the epitome of personalized education tailored to your individual child. You don’t have to be wealthy to provide a cutting-edge education for your kids. Many families of modest means around the country and even the world are part of this exciting movement!
As parents, we know our kids better than anyone and also have the greatest vested interest in seeking out the best curriculum and programs for them. In addition to individualized one-on-one teaching, we are fortunate to live in a time when some of the best teachers in the world are offering content online for free.
Homeschool families also recognize the value of libraries. The famous line from Good Will Hunting is not lost on homeschool families:
“You blew $150k on an education you could have gotten in $1.50 in late fees from the library.” — Good Will Hunting
Here is a typical homeschool curriculum for a 4th/5th grader. The cost is around $250/year and would be about the same for most elementary-aged children. Furthermore, many of the purchases can be used again for siblings. Even if you hire a private tutor or outsource a subject to a group instructor, the cost is still significantly less than paying for private school.
Science–A textbook and experiments will cost around $100 for the year. We are part of a co-op, and this is a huge help. Since I don’t love doing experiments myself, it works out great for my kids to do them there.
Additionally, we love going on science field trips and spending time in nature.
Lastly, you could easily do an entire science curriculum using just library books and free online resources without purchasing any curriculum.
Foreign Language–There are quite a few ways to learn another language online on sites like Memrise and DuoLingo at no cost. Additionally, many local libraries will give you access to foreign language training as a free resource. For instance, our library offers Rosetta Stone’s online program for free.
I try to buy used curriculum on Amazon when possible. Additionally, Rainbow Resource usually has the cheapest prices for new items.
Experiential learning is one of the most meaningful and memorable ways to learn. We go on a field trip just about every week as well as engage in extremely hands-on learning activities with our weekly co-op. Homeschoolers should make the most of their homeschooling freedom and deliberately seek out experiential learning opportunities. Spending $250 for the year, you could engage in so many wonderful types of experiential learning and could even do it for a lot less. Nature is free. Many organizations and companies offer free field trips, tours and programs.
A big component of homeschooling is customizing to your child’s passions and interests. Sports, music, technology, and music are a few examples of a program each family can uniquely design for their own children. You will want to factor those costs into your child’s educational plan.
With some research and effort, you can provide your child a cutting-edge, customized education! The homeschool community is extremely generous in sharing information and support. Join our movement. We want you to succeed and are here to help you!
Would you like to share some tips about homeschooling on a budget? How much do you spend homeschooling your kids?
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The state of California offers me, a homeschooling parent, $2600/year in educational funds for each of my kids. I, along with so many other homeschooling families in California, have crafted a customized and well-rounded education that reflects our family’s interests, priorities, learning styles, and values.
Thanks in large part to our educational funds, I believe homeschoolers in Southern California are at the forefront of 21st-century learning. We are empowered with financial resources to truly customize our children’s education. The network of homeschool vendors is huge because homeschoolers have those financial resources to pay for their educational offerings. Most families would only be able to afford a fraction of these learning opportunities without the funds.
The ecosystem of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities for homeschool families in Southern California is enormous, and I credit much of that to the educational funds. With such tremendous infrastructure in place, it makes for a thriving and dynamic place to receive a 21st-century education and explore one’s passions. Personalized learning is all the rage amongst education circles these days. Homeschoolers have been doing this for years. With educational funds, it makes it even easier to facilitate a top-of-the-line education for our kids.
I’d like to share with you how educational funds work in California for homeschool families:
Educational Funds–Charter schools for homeschoolers offer educational funds. There are multiple charter schools and each competes to attract and retain students.The charter school I selected spends, on each student’s behalf, $2600/year to use with vendors to provide for a well-rounded education. The parents direct what they want to spend their funds on and the choices are colossal. Funds can’t be spent on religious curriculum or classes. I don’t know any two families who spend their funds in the same way. Our options are vast. Here is how we are spending our funds this year:
Piano, flute and saxophone lessons
Flute and saxophone rental fees
Basketball clinics and gymnastics lessons
Weekly project-based learning classes that correspond with our field trips
Weekly sailing lessons
School and office supplies
Curriculum–Amazon and Rainbow Resources are two examples of curriculum vendors. The options and combinations seem almost endless allowing for a wonderfully customized curriculum.
One-hundred Percent Personalized Curriculum–We can use any method or program of our family’s choosing.
I select the mix of curriculum that fits each of my kids’ needs and am free to change it up as needed without permission from anyone. Here is what we do for math.
Faith-based materials can’t be purchased with state funds.
Some people use funds for core classes like math, language arts, etc. The parents can choose the teacher and program that best fits their kids’ learning styles. I prefer to use our funds on experiences and activities. I expect as my kids move into middle or high school that I will begin to use some of the funds for writing and math classes. For now, however, my children are thriving academically, emotionally, and socially. My 10-year old son’s blog and my 9-year old daughter’s blog offer a glimpse of our incredible homeschooling lifestyle and educational opportunities in SoCal.
If a child or family is fascinated by a subject, then it is our option to linger in it and dive deep without making sure we are hitting all the quick and shallow standards of public school. This creates passion and love of learning.
There is no state-mandated curriculum.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is instruction is individualized. If a child learns quickly then s/he can jump ahead. For example, my oldest two kids are above grade level in virtually every academic subject freeing them up to move at an accelerated pace. This is not usually an option in conventional school. Additionally, kids that do not learn as quickly are able to slow down until they understand it without being made to feel dumb. One nice thing about homeschooling is most of the kids have no idea at which rate their friends learn math, read books, etc. Instead, they are learning together joyfully on hikes, field trips, in science classes, etc.
We are also part of a weekly homeschool co-op with about 60 families. Parents volunteer their gifts and passions to teach classes so we only pay for supplies. We do not use funds, and about half the families file independently and not with a charter school. I teach Blogging and 21st-Century Skills. My kids take art, science and other classes here with other wonderful homeschool families.
Thanks to educational funds for homeschoolers, a tremendous infrastructure of classes, programs, and opportunities have emerged allowing kids to learn and thrive in such diverse ways that best fit their needs and passions. The funds have created a competitive market that has dramatically amplified opportunities.
Standardized Testing–Since we accept funds, homeschool charters prefer that we take the same standardized test in the spring that public school kids take beginning in third grade. I have no problem with that. I do not spend any time teaching to that test, and the charter school does not put any pressure on us to do so. So far, my kids have been in the top tier of each standardized test we have taken. Many of my homeschool friends also score much higher than their district school counterparts. I find this interesting considering how much time public schools spend teaching to the test, and we spent none. Rather, we focus on a well-rounded, quality education.
I am not pressured to teach to the test at all.
There is no reward or repercussion for test results.
I tell my kids to do the best they can on the tests and advise them they will probably see some unfamiliar language and terminology. We do not follow a Common Core curriculum or use classroom lingo. If they don’t know an answer, they can use process of elimination.
Last year’s standardized tests only took about 3 hours total and was divided into two days. Our wonderful teacher surprised them with homemade lollipops with encouraging notes attached for their hard work after test completion. We also went to her house a few days later to watch her ducklings hatching. We witnessed a duckling peck its way out of its shell. She is an example of the many caring teachers who support homeschool families.
You simply get the results in the mail. It is your choice to open it up and look at the results. Some parents choose to not look at the results because they do not believe in standardized tests for their kids.
Most people will need to take tests throughout their lives. I see this as good preparation and a partial barometer of how we are doing. However, I don’t believe those tests account for many important successful life skills or for the uniqueness in each of our children. Many brilliant kids don’t test well.
Meeting With Your Assigned Credentialed Teacher–We are required to meet with our assigned teacher approximately once every 3 weeks. However, some families who prefer additional support may be in contact with their teacher more often.
Samples are required. Each student is required to provide one to several samples per month depending on the charter school. All samples must be secular.
I have always worked with supportive teachers who have trusted me with my children’s education. They are simply there as a facilitator and to offer guidance for those families who need it. If I was assigned a teacher who was not a good fit for our family, I would switch teachers or change to another charter school. It is the free market in action.
Educational Vendors–We have thousands of products and vendors from which we can choose from to use our homeschool funds. One thing I love about homeschooling is that my kids are out experiencing the world in a variety of settings and learning from different instructors who are so passionate about their field. Families are empowered to ask their favorite provider of services or products to become a vendor. Here are just a few of the vendors in Southern California offering programs for homeschool kids:
Amazon and Rainbow Resources are my two favorite vendors for curriculum. The prices and selection are great, and shipping with Amazon is fast. We can create thousands of combinations customized to our children’s learning styles and abilities.
Charter School Options–Charter schools compete to attract and retain students. Each year, the choices, funding and options seem to get better. Here are just a few examples:
I know some people vehemently opposed to accepting educational funds from the government. In California, you have the option to stay independent instead of receiving charter school funds. However, sometimes they give out false information and say you can’t teach what you want if you accept funds. This simply is NOT TRUE. I customize my kids’ education every bit as much as a family who does not join a charter school. I find their misinformation confuses new homeschool families. If I ever felt dissatisfied with the charter school, I have the freedom and choice to file independently again. I have multiple friends who were fiercely independent and resisted joining the charters. However, when some amazing opportunities opened up two years ago for students in my charter, they signed up. They are enjoying their activities and extra funds and have not looked back.
In summary, the educational funds have played a tremendous role in creating a huge infrastructure for homeschool families. I am in charge of what and how my kids learn. If I ever believed it impacted my ability to teach what I wanted, then I would simply go independent. I am so excited and hopeful that homeschooling families across America will also have the opportunity to receive educational funds, if they desire, and see an even greater expansion of the homeschool infrastructure and learning opportunities.
I would love for Secretary DeVos to come to Southern California to see what has been built for homeschool families–in part due to educational funds. It is learning for the 21st-century at its finest!
Welcome to The Contemporary Homeschooler! Academic excellence, lots of experiential learning and high-quality books are hallmarks of our household. With a good structure in place, homeschoolers are able to complete their academic work in around half the time of a typical conventional school day. We like to use that extra time to engage with the world and follow our passions. I don’t box our family into following a particular homeschool philosophy. Rather, I see myself as an entrepreneur for my family: nimble and adaptive to our needs and learning opportunities.
I see myself as an entrepreneur for my family: nimble and adaptive to our needs and learning opportunities.
As a homeschool family, you have the freedom to put your children on the cutting edge of education. You can customize and personalize their academics. There is a huge selection of curriculum, both web-based and paper-based, available to homeschool families. You can incorporate abundant experiential learning opportunities into your schedule. I will not squander my time away with my kids as a slave to excessive busy work or dawdle around the house all day. We finish our work and get out into the world. Now, more than ever, there are wonderful opportunities for homeschoolers! Carpe diem!!!!
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