Saturday, December 7, 2019

Spending less on homeschool

Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me after my last post, where I talked about my budgeting troubles. I received so much great advice and encouragement from you.

A kind friend is actually putting together a spreadsheet for me so I will be able to track our budget better going forward.

Paul and I examined our past couple of months of spending and it was pretty clear that the majority of our money goes towards the mortgage, utilities (including insurance), food, tithe/giving and homeschool activities.

A lot of that stuff is immovable, but I've taken a look at our homeschool activities and decided to cut back on some of them next term.

We are only going to go to one of our homeschool groups, although we will still meet up with the other homeschool group for lunch and a play so that the kids can continue to build their friendships there.

The other thing we are going to cut is swimming lessons for the girls. They are both really confident in the water, so I'll just continue Master J in his lessons while the girls play in the pool. J is actually a fairly decent swimmer for his age, but I want him to be really capable since we spend so much time at the beach.

I used the recent government homeschool allowance to purchase the next level of Math-U-See resources for all the kids, so they'll be set for maths for most of next year (depending on how quickly they get through it). I supplement this with RightStart maths games that I purchased at the Auckland Homeschool Conference earlier this year.
Our language arts programme is The Good and the Beautiful. The levels that my girls are studying are offered as free PDFS, which is amazing, so I just printed them off right here at home. I had to purchase Master J's current level, but his next one will also be free. (Grades 1-5 are free and REALLY good. Check them out.)
I get all J's readers out from the library (there's a HUGE selection), and I've been reading through The Well-Trained Mind to get ideas for books to order for him. The Well-Trained Mind has also given me ideas for audiobooks to listen to with the kids as we drive to our various destinations. Here is a list of good quality audiobook ideas for you:

Our favourite audiobooks

  • The Wednesday Wars*, by Gary D. Schmidt
  • What Katy Did*, What Katy Did at School, and What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge
  • Pollyanna* by Eleanor Porter
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis
  • Sarah Plain and Tall series, by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Story of Civilization volumes 1-3
  • The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Goose Girl* series by Shannon Hale
  • The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory* by Roald Dahl
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
(I've put * next to our absolute favourites from this list.)

For history, we will be starting The Story of the World Volume 2, which I purchased from Book Depository. I managed to find lapbook printables to accompany that, for a donation of US$3. I just need to buy manilla folders to use for the lapbooks, and then we're good to go for history.

We are also listening to The Story of Civilization Volume 2 in the car as we drive about, as it covers the same time period as The Story of the World Volume 2 and I was able to borrow it for free from the library.
We are going to finish up our animal biology unit this coming week, as we only have reptiles and arthropods left to go. The kids have loved doing this science unit. Putting together their lapbooks has been a real joy. I've enjoyed learning right alongside them, especially the chapters on birds. Birds are amazing! This unit was really inexpensive to do, as I bought The World of Animals curriculum secondhand, and then printed free lapbook printables to accompany it.
Master J did a couple of science classes at our homeschool group this term, and they were excellent, so I'm going to enrol the girls in a science class each next term. At home, we'll do Mystery Science since we have already purchased a membership and it's lots of fun for the kids.
Our Bounce Back resilience group will keep meeting together next term. The curriculum for that has already been purchased by my lovely friend, Julia, who is taking us through the course. This week the Bounce Back kids all finished their lesson with a swim, which was absolutely necessary in this hot summer weather. 
Music lessons are what cost us the most activity-wise, but I don't want to sacrifice them so we'll just suck up that cost and forego other things.

I'm looking forward to our summer break, when I won't have to think about any of these things for a while, and can just enjoy time with my family.

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