Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: Homeschooling on a Shoestring

This summer has thus far been hotter than usual - breaking records more days than not.  I can't say we are getting as much outdoor time as needed, but I am getting some things done around the house!  I've worked on an Emergency Binder and a Household Binder, which includes school plans.  I still have a long way to go, but some progress is better than none at all.  (If you are interested in making some organizational headway, check out my Planner pins at Pinterest.)

I've also been perusing our library to glean what homeschooling information I can from its (mostly) out-dated books.  I have decided to basically copy my notes here for a couple of reasons: 1. so I don't lose them and 2. on the off chance it helps someone else. (I wasn't asked to do this review.)
The first book I checked out was Homeschooling on a Shoestring: A Jam-packed Guide by Morgan and Allee.  I read this over a year ago, and wanted to go through it again now that I have some homeschool experience under my belt. Although the copy I read is not the latest, I think it is well worth reading, or keeping on hand for reference.  It is chock full of ideas for many different subjects, and if nothing else, is a great jumping off point for further internet research.

  • The first thing that struck me was the discussion on television watching and how it affects kids and families.  They shared stats from The Overspent American, which said the more TV people watch and the more formal education they have, the less money they tend to save, with an average of $208 less in annual savings for every hour per week spent watching TV.  Wow.  So if I watch 3 hours of TV each week, I save $624 less each year then someone who watches none!  That is a great motivation to turn that thing off!

Here are some of their suggestions for getting a handle on the TV in your home.  Limit screen time to 1-2 days a week or an hour a day.  Hard rules equal fewer hard feelings, and its easier on the parent because there will be less negotiation.  Don't us TV for background noise - use a VCR (okay, I told you this was out-dated, lets make that a DVR) so you only watch specific shows and can skip the commercials.  Also, try the "no TV for a month" experiment - summer is a good time to try that because it won't be associated with the fact that you homeschool.  Finally, keep it in a central location - not in bedrooms - or hide it altogether!  (If you are like my family, hiding the TV isn't feasible because of its large size...but perhaps you can disguise it under a blanket or behind a room divider?  Out of sight is out of mind.)

  • The next nugget was to listen to Diana Waring's History Alive! series, which are audiobooks of American history using traditional songs.  They look interesting, but I haven't purchased them.  Does anyone have any experience with these?
  • Let kids choose wish list items for holidays and birthdays from educational catalogs.  This is a good reason to keep all those things collected from the homeschool conference!
  • Talk to your local schools to see if they will allow homeschoolers to borrow textbooks, library books, or even to attend classes or extra curricular activities.  (The book also suggested checking with your state or local homeschool organization first, to see if asking these things could cause your family trouble.)   I think private schools may be more open to this, personally, and have considered looking into it, but haven't yet.
  • Math - make your own Geo board by hammering nails into a square piece of wood (leaving 3/4" exposed) in a grid pattern, then wrapping with rubber bands into shapes and patterns of your own.
  • Use more puzzles and games!  Mad Libs are great for learning parts of speech.
  • Grammar - pay student a nickel each time he catches a parent using incorrect grammar, such as "ain't" instead of "isn't", or "don't" instead of "doesn't'.  Stipulate that this must be done privately! 

If you are stuck in figuring out how to school for less money, I think this book is a winner!


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