June 4, 2023

Getting Started – Costs in Time and Money

Homeschooling can be as expensive or as economical as you like, and time commitment is extremely flexible. It depends upon what you are endeavouring to do.
First of all, though, dispel the picture of a mini-school established in your home: many start that way but few ever carry on that way, for schools are designed to deal with logistical problems completely absent from the home.
At home you are in a tutoring/mentoring situation, the most superior setting for academic excellence, social training, physical self-discipline, character development and spiritual growth ever devised. Education is not limited to certain activities in a certain place during certain hours of the day: education and learning are taking place all the time, and parents with their children at home are in the unique position to pretty well organise what they learn, to what depth, in what manner and for what purposes. They can take advantage of the “teachable moments” that come when the child has a flash of inspiration or curiosity about feathers in the midst of a history lesson….drop the history and pursue the feather question, for feathers lend themselves to the study of animal husbandry, ornithology, biology, flight, mechanics, physics, mathematics, fashion…..and history, too! Not just the history of the human use of feathers, but the history of fashion, mathematics, physics, etc….see the connections that can be made?

What kind of time and work are involved?
Every homeschooling family would answer this one differently.It does depend on how many children you are teaching, if there are any preschoolers there too, what level the students are at, what lessons and degree of mastery you are committed to, what kind of curriculum you are using, etc.Generally, homeshoolers find that education becomes a 24-hour-a-day lifestyle. This only makes sense when you perceive education as a total preparation for life. Everything you do becomes an educational experience or opportunity. It seems that 1 1/2 to 2 hours of formal instruction per day plus lots of interaction as you go about your regular routine and do projects together is a common formula.

Teaching reading and basic math principles often require concentrated one-to-one tuition. Subjects such as science, history, geography, and all the arts can be taught at once to a whole range of ages, expecting more from the older ones, and parenthetically explaining parts to the younger ones. Regular preparation and evaluation time for the parent is also recomend. And it must be stressed that both parents should be committed to the whole exercise and totally supportive of one another.

Most homeschoolers find the lifestyle of homeschooling rather fun, as they are flexible enough to have field trips, holidays, special projects, extended time on one subject whenever they want. Because the formal instruction per child need only be 2 hours or so, preschoolers can be napping at that time, or other pupils can look after them in turn.

There will be a need to organise your materials and your time, so having a well-ordered house and housekeeping routine as well as a well-organised programme of instruction is a definite plus. This does not mean you have to be SuperParent. Often it does mean that you re-organise your priorities. For instance, we run our business from home and have one preschooler and homeschool our other three children plus one foster child. Because of this we have had to place “general tidiness” a bit lower on our priority list.

Homeschooling requires a fair amount of self discipline plus the will and ability to discipline the children to help carry out their programme, as you are all a part of your family corporation. Helping the children to see their indispensible place within your family and the way they are depended upon for certain jobs gives them a real sense of self-worth and of contributing.

The biggest job of all is the one you need to do first and which will in fact be an on-going one. And that is to work out your own personal philosophy answering the question, “Why am I homeschooling?” You must be able to articulate this as clearly as you can, and be committed to it, or else the smallest obstacle or the least criticism will be enough to stop you cold.

Where do I get materials and what does it all cost?
There are excellent materials, resources and curricula available from a great variety of sources. Some national and local support groups keep a range of resources for the use of their members. Many homeschool veterans are happy to lend items not currently being used. The public libraries are excellent. Secondhand book sales, flea markets, garage sales can all yield very useful material. Once you take a higher profile and display confidence and commitment, friends and relatives may come up with some surprises. Take your time when shopping around and do not buy the first thing that strikes your fancy nor buy something for use many months down the track. There is a lot of high-gloss junk for sale, too, plus it is easy to spend a lot on resources that you later find to be unsuitable. Check things out as much as you can first.Comprehensive package curricula are available at varying costs, and correspondence programmes are offered from a variety of schools in NZ and overseas. Older children can attend night schools and polytechs. Many public schools are now open to the idea of allowing a student to attend only one or two specific classes, chemistry for example. You may have a close friend or relative who would be thrilled to offer tutoring in a subject area in which they are particularly good. In short, there is a vast range of material helps available, and you can spend as much or as little as you like.Take a moment to reflect on the fact that if you only passed on all the important lessons that you have learned during your own life, you will have done your child an invaluable service.