Today my guest contributor is Katie Moore from The Iron Heart Mama. Katie shares how she has learned to homeschool while dealing with financial difficulties. She has some great tips for saving money and handling the stress of a tight budget.
My homeschool plan was together, but we didn’t have much money.
Like, as in, we barely had enough for groceries…
Kevin and I had already scraped together $60 – and, in fact, most of it came from our already small grocery budget.
$60 to homeschool all four of our children?
The panic set in.
My children would never become successful human beings if my plan did not come together!!!
I just couldn’t let that happen…
So, much like I still do from time to time, I started my two-week problem-solving routine:
- roll up my sleeves – figuratively; literally, if I am wearing my fave flannel
- get a bigger cup of coffee – having too much caffeine in my system will help, right?
- check the budget again – still bleak, BUT I did find a quarter in the dryer
- start Googling – never read fully through a post – they don’t know my life…
- spend days pinning self-help posts (and a few random recipes) on Pinterest
- hit the Facebook support groups – find no “real” solutions and “accidentally” watch hours of Tasty videos, instead
- yell at my kids – they want to eat in my time of crisis?!
- think about finally reading one of those homeschooling books – only get through the intro
- start all the courses about homeschooling, organization, budgeting – and finish none
- decide that I need to put the kids into school and either get a job or start a business – take a nap instead
By the end of a couple of weeks of “problem-solving,” I had more accurately worked myself into a tizzy. An over-caffeinated, information-overloaded, frazzled, and snapping mess of a tizzy.
I don’t know where you fall in your reaction – laughing, cringing, or scowling – but we both know we’re all a little ridiculous sometimes.
(When you write out your silly reactions, it becomes a little more obvious… I dare you to try it.)
Now, listen – there are some great things on that list! (I mean, you are reading through a blog series called How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things, so you already know the value of good, encouraging information.)
But out of order, my whole list is just information or action without peace and without hope.
Can I suggest there is a better way to homeschool through financial difficulties?
Don’t Go It Alone
Take It To The Lord
Before you even start problem-solving, take this to the Lord. Just because you’re broke financially doesn’t mean you need to be broke in spirit.
Trust the Lord that His plans are better than yours, He is enough, and He has already equipped you to teach your children everything that they need to know.
Take It To Your Family
Next: take the realities of this to your family. You’re not homeschooling on your own, so why would you try to bear the burden and come up with all the solutions alone? Include your husband and share with your children!
Walking through financial difficulties is one of the best learning experiences that your children can have. That’s life schooling.
The best way for a family to homeschool through financial difficulties is to do it together.
Take It To A Trusted Homeschool Friend
Friends that have already walked this path know the struggle involved. They’re the ones who often have the best listening ear and give the best advice.
Your friend might even spot some things that you are missing and give it to you straight. That’s invaluable.
Learning from another trusted homeschool mom is one of the best investments that you can make in your homeschool. And it doesn’t cost a dime.
Some days homeschooling might be hard. Some days homeschooling might be mundane. And some days, homeschooling reminds you, mama, to cherish the season. All too soon this time will be gone and this table will be empty…
Finding Resources To Homeschool Through Financial Difficulties
There are a TON of free resources out there – whether online, hand-me-downs, borrowed, or at your local library.
Have limited internet, availability, or gas money? Look at what you already have! There were a couple of years that we were so broke I was only able to use what I had: my study Bible, favorite classic books from my childhood stash, and well-loved cookbooks.
Teaching what you already know – Priceless and completely free.
Some of us already have a tried and true curriculum that we love, but also have a compulsive need to try new things. raises hand (Don’t deny it if this is you, too.)
If you are able to, avoid buying new curricula during a financially-trying season. I know it’s hard… But it is also the least opportune moment to find out you have wasted money on a curriculum that your family hates. (Can you tell this is the voice of experience? Repeated experience… Why does no one stop me?!)
If you must spend the money, the comfort in purchasing a well-loved curriculum is that you know it and your family can work with it. At least until you have the funds to pursue your homeschooling addiction…
As our family has crossed into the world of high school, we have wanted to make sure that we are diligently preparing our teens to pursue what the Lord has for them in a few short years.
We have absolutely loved a few subscription-based curricula and programs for our older students. Many companies offer a free trial and then a low monthly cost after that. Should we decide later that it’s not for us, we can cancel.
Subscription programs make yearly homeschool start-up costs minimal and allow families to try out new programs without fear!
The Benefits of Homeschooling Through Financial Difficulties
Going through several financially dry seasons has regularly been one of the best and most revealing times in our homeschool.
Rediscovering the Basics and Interests
I have been forced to set aside what was popular (and expensive) to focus on the basics.
You know how we moms are prone to filling up every minute of the school day with what we think our kids need to learn or are interested in, right? With a little more time and less direction, my kids started to pursue their own interests – using free resources that they found on their own.
I was shocked.
Learning independently of me??? I knew it was ideal, but I didn’t think it was possible…
Without enough money to buy new curricula, I was forced to dig through a few older ones on the shelf that I thought didn’t work because one child hated them. Ended up that one of the other kids thrived using it!
This has been a recurring theme. I have saved HUNDREDS on curriculum costs by forgetting to get rid of things as we went.
Take that, Konmari…
In the same line of repurposing material, there were a couple of years when my children reused a book that they had gone through a year or so before.
Want a child to suddenly have confidence and experience that “ah-ha” moment in a shaky subject? Let them go through a study a second time.
Sure they already went through it, but there are times that they didn’t really get it or master it…
I have seen my children move forward in school with a great sense of accomplishment and anticipation for what else they can learn just from a season of “catching up.”
To save on teacher’s books (and teacher’s time), we used resources that worked for all of us, creating a sweet multi-age homeschool.
My children work together, cheer one another on, and challenge each other. That doesn’t mean that they always do everything together – or well, for that matter – but often.
In my early vision of homeschooling, I could have never imagined this. But for difficulty, we would be living out my vision – each student quietly, independently working on their school at a spotless homeschool room table without talking to each other.
Stop – you know you have had a similar or as equally silly vision along the way… wink.
Short-Term Homeschooling, aka Change
I know change isn’t easy; honestly, homeschooling already has a beautiful ebb and flow, right? But as creatures of habit, in the middle of a crisis, we often get stuck doing what we always do or have trouble breaking free of the plans we had.
If that’s you, listen: you can still enjoy homeschooling through financial difficulties. You’re not stuck. Give yourself permission to change up the plan and do what you have to do during this season.
Your kids are going to be okay.
And so are you, Mama…
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Series
This is day 24 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series!. We are so glad you are here! Check out the rest of the series by clicking the banner below.
Who is Katie Moore? Slacker, Opportunist, and Blogger @ The Iron Heart Mama She is the wife of Kevin and mama to her three beautiful young ladies and one handsome young man. She is a relaxed homeschool mama of over 10 years and always looking for new ways to make homeschooling easier, more affordable, and FUN! Katie’s favorite words of encouragement to mamas from her years of experience: You don’t have to do it all & you don’t have to do it alone…