Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Math for Mom Part 1 - Homeschool Budget

Math is a most dreaded subject for many moms, and possibly moreso for homeschooling mothers.  Numbers are not my best area, for sure.  But this series is not for giving you pointers or hints for how to better teach your child math.  This is Math for Mom!

First in this series, it's the homeschool budget.  I will confess that I love thumbing (surfing) through curriculum.  I just know that I will find the best tidbits that will spark an idea that will in turn light a fire of delightful learning in my children.  Some of those ideas and tips come at a price, though.  Here are a few things to consider when preparing your homeschool budget.

1.  Does it point your child toward a Biblical worldview of the subject?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the innoculation theory when it comes to using materials that contain secular information.  I take opportunities to challenge my children with what the world will hand them, in terms of defending Biblical accounts and beliefs.  From evolution to the cultural stereotypes of today's teenagers.  I use some  reference materials, non fiction, fiction, even picture books that contain non-Christian beliefs and character traits.  I feel it gives us all great opportunities, so that when we are out in the world, we do not get the feeling that we are OF this world and begin to help them recognize what is good and evil.  
  If you are not comfortable in doing this, be very sure that you purchase materials carefully.  But most of all, pray and seek guidance from your husband as to his preferred direction.

2. Is it something you are able to use? As in, do you have the time and availability to implement it properly?
Time and availability are two of my biggest struggles.  I have a limited number of teaching minutes in the day, so I have to make them count.  If a resource requires a huge amount of preparation on my part that I cannot spare, I must move that item down to be considered in question #3.  If it is indeed a priority, then I will consider any additional helps that I may purchase to ease the burden or even possibly find a personalized method of implementing.  It is vitally important to set yourself up to succeed in teaching your children.  Unrealistic expectations of yourself will only cause you and your children unneeded tears and heartache.
3.  Is  it on your list of priorities to teach this year?
So, you might find that you are able to include a subject that sounds fun or you feel like is a good idea.  But not all of those will end up being priorities  I try to always remember that when I say 'yes' to one thing, in means I am saying 'no' to another and then decide if it is worth the tradeoff.   Subjects that do fall into this category are then deemed worth it to me to purchase additional "helps" that might be available such as printables CD's, additional student books (instead of making copies), reference materials that will make it more convenient to have on hand with relying on the library.   If a subject is of questionable importance, I then go back to choosing "best" over "good" for my children.  
 4.  Is it consumable?
It goes without saying that if you are homeschooling more than one child, consumables may not always be the most budget-friendly choices.  Many times, our core subject are taught with consumables.  But  if an item has longer usability in my family, it holds a higher slot on my list!  It is not the deciding factor, but it is a consideration especially if it is something that will likely be used by most in the family.
5.  Crunching the numbers-oh, what fun!
My budget is allotted once a year.  It comes in the form of the tax return in the spring. Some have a monthly allowance.  Others just fly by the seat of their pants.  I wish I were able to do that sometimes.  But, I must have a plan - for my mental health and my husband's planning purposes.  By tax filing time, I have a good idea of what is and is not working for us and things that might need adjustment.  Once I have figured out my priority subjects and decided on which resources I will need to accomplish our family's mission, I go looking for bargains.  I do not spend  a set amount on each child, I go by the needs of our family in general and then narrow down what each child needs to accomplish in the coming school year.  "Amount per child"  does not exist here!  If I can find it used, by all means, I go for that first.  Otherwise, I check for sales, coupon codes, wait for the "season" for the item, or go for the best prices at Amazon or Rainbow.  When an item is published by a small Mom & Pop business, I try to support them if at all possible. 

Budgeting for homeschooling can be a challenge!  There is so much from which to choose these days.  It is vitally important that we choose wisely in order to steward our finances, time and children's hearts and minds well!
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Reconciliation - the process of making consistent or compatible.
My wonderful, hard-working husband works the evening shift and so I lead devotion time with my children before bed. Some nights are quick and easy and they're off to bed in a flash. Tonight has not been such a night. But I am oh-so-thankful! The Lord showed Himself mighty tonight. Having absolutely nothing to do with the devotional book that we use this night, we spent over half an hour in reconciliation time. We go through the catechism using the devotional book mentioned here. I've been inconsistent in using this resource and have bounced around a bit but will keep it up for the sake of consistency for a while. If we don't find ourselves having further discussion on the material in the day's reading, we move into encouragement and reconciliation.

During encouragement time, each child is to look to the person beside him and encourage or compliment three or more attributes of that person. Most of the time there are giggles, great big smiles and even a little embarrassment. There are comments on talents, abilities, physical features and just lots of love going around during this time. Mom is included in this time. I am always interested to hear what they say about me. There is not a lot of hesitancy in the words of our little ones J

Next is reconciliation time. We take the down time to make anything right with someone anything for which we feel we need to ask forgiveness. It is becoming a more open and honest time. Sometimes, the other person has no idea that the offender has thought or felt the emotion or thought for which they are asking forgiveness. Other times, there was a clear and verbal/physical spat that will bring obvious acknowledgement. Again, Mom is not immune. I get frustrated, impatient, rude or otherwise unloving and must be reconciled as well.

It is the latter about which I am writing tonight. This was such a sweet time this evening as the Holy Spirit prompted an unusually wonderful number of confessions. Some even taking place years ago-thoughts that were never revealed, words murmured, hateful attitudes, and the list goes on. The tenderness in the hearts of my young ones was palpable and so precious to my heart this evening. I am so thankful that He has been faithful to help make our family more consistent and compatible. I have heard my children voice their recognition of wisdom brought about by discipline and teaching in their lives. I am sure that we are all coming into better focus as we head toward our family's vision of training up children who will love the Lord and serve Him alone. I will have to keep details among family since they are so close to our hearts and we must be painstakingly cautious with their trust. But I would encourage you, if you don't include these things in your family devotional time, that you are missing out on many, many blessings in your family.