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Homeschooling on the Cheap

Simple Living (featured column)
by Deann Curtis

Homeschooling can be an expensive alternative to public schooling. But, its worth it. Right? Well, that depends. If you have extra money that you want to spend on schooling then by all means do it. But if you don't have the extra money don't let that scare you away from homeschooling. In fact, most of the schooling we do is done for free or at least very cheaply.

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We usually do unit studies in our homeschool. We start by picking a topic to study. Then using that topic, I go to the Internet. Usually by just visiting a few of my favorite sites, I can come up with games, crafts, art projects, history, geography, math, science and language arts lessons that relate to our topic of study.

I print up the directions to the projects I find and any worksheets I find for our study. These get hole punched and put into folders that are bought for about ten cents at the beginning of the school year. I also usually print up some reference material for the children to read or for me to read to them.

Then, I visit our local public library online. While I am there, I reserve books, music and video recordings that relate to our unit study. I make sure to get a wide variety of materials to help insure that all of the children and I will be learning something. If possible, I get cook books to go along with the study. I choose picture books, chapter books, books on tape, music on CD, fictional works and nonfiction works. I try to find materials that come at the topic from different angels. So if possible, I pick out books that bring in all of the traditional subjects. This includes: art, history, science, math, geography, music and homemaking.

At home, I check our encyclopedias for information and activity ideas. I also scan the current TV schedule to see if there is a show that will relate to our topic.

Another wonderful resource I have at home, is my daughter's Campfire Guidebook. It is full of projects that she can do throughout the years in any order that she wants. So whenever something comes up at home, whether it is a holiday, a family project or a unit study, she has plenty of projects to keep her busy and to teach her new skills.

Once we gather all of our materials for a new unit together, we just dive in. We use the picture books for bedtime stories. We use the cookbooks for making meals, snacks and desserts. We listen to the music for fun. We watch the videos. We do the projects and worksheets during school time. Then after looking at the art books that relate to our topic, the children usually work on some projects without direction. If we can find any possible excuse, we take a field trip or two. A field trip can be a visit to an ethnic store, a restaurant, a museum, a science museum or even our own backyard.

By using the services of the library and the Internet, we are able to put together studies that inexpensive yet invaluable.

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