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Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling

Logistics

  1. How can our family survive on one income?
  2. What if I work?
  3. We live in an apartment/small house/mobile home. How can we do it?

How can our family survive on one income?

Remember that old saying "You can't take it with you?" Why work for it then? Only YOUR family can decide what is important to you. We choose to keep our kids home and settle for a roof over our head instead of a mansion (got one of those when I get to Heaven). We have used vehicles (back when they were made to run forever). We don't eat out (gross experience at a fast food restaurant made me not care.) yada yada yada...We live comfortably on one income. Oh by the way..my husband works in a PVC pipe factory so it's not a large income. We are HAPPY!!! --Lisa C

Up till the 1960's families only had one income. Think about how you grew up. I remember when we got our first color TV -- 13". We never had cable. Three stations was it! We read books, played board games, and TALKED. Imagine that! My parents had one car, and my mom would take my dad to work on the days she needed it for shopping. You really don't need all the fancy trappings that the TV and radio ads tell you that you need! If you live more simply, you can live on one income. See HomeschoolChristian.com's frugal living section for more ideas.--Martha R.

One small income, southern California. How? Very carefully. We weigh each and every spending decision. We do the usual: don't eat out often; drive a used car; rent a smaller home; shop in bulk; make our own bread; coupons; thrift shopping; etc.

  • I do our shopping with an eye on "how many servings can I get out of this cut of meat?" Not just how much does it cost...Sometimes, the cheaper cuts give you fewer servings per pound than more expensive cuts.
  • We don't go out to movies (although recently a theatre opened that has $1.75 tickets for all shows... wheee!)
  • When we go on vacation, we camp; we visit family members; we get info from the local chamber of commerce and find out what *free* things there are in town.
  • A big day for our family is packing a picnic and heading to the beach or mountains!
  • We've convinced family members that a really cool gift is membership to the zoo. That way we can take the family to the zoo anytime, for free. (worth splurging on anyway!)
  • We really use the local libraries! And I mean we use them! They have story time, reading contests, book clubs, activities, summer programs, etc. You can even borrow music tapes and CDs. Most even have videos to borrow.
  • We use the YMCA for swim classes, activities, etc.
  • We go to our church's summer camp, lots of churches have summer day camps for kids, and they are inexpensive and fun.
  • Remember that every little penny adds up. We teach our kids to save their coins for things that they want.

It can be done. It does take sacrifice. We manage on the income of a medical billing clerk. If we had $100 less a month, we'd qualify for welfare. Dear Hubby does take extra work as a musician or teacher when he can... Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? To be home with my kids, to be able to teach them myself, to give them that kind of experience? YES! Money can't buy those things! ----Rochelle C

What if I work?

It is possible, although it can be challenging! Of course, it depends on the age of your children. Working at home isn't too hard to coordinate with homeschooling, but if it's outside the home, then you'll have childcare to consider. I work at home, and I typically get 3 hours of work in before the children even get out of bed. We start school at 10 a.m. at the earliest. I can usually get a few more hours of work done in the afternoon, and a few more in the evening. Train your children to help you with chores and your life will be easier! Sometimes I think that being busy with work has its advantages--my children have HAD to learn how to do some things for themselves because they've gotten tired of waiting for me to help them! -- Mary Leggewie.

Yes! It takes some work on your part organizing your schedule, but who says you have to homeschool during the day? You can do nights, evenings, early mornings, weekends, whenever you want! See our Working Homeschooling Parent message board for real time support. --Martha R.

We live in an apartment/small house/mobile home. How can we do it?

We do live in a "twister magnet" as we call them here in Iowa. Although I guess not really a small one at 14x80..it seems smaller than a house. I don't remember who sang the song but some words went Love Grows Big in Little Places ......everybody always knows what everybody else is doing. .......We never lose touch of one another because we are close enough to reach out and touch one another. We could probably fill up a room with books....but this keeps the hubby and kids busy with woodworking by building bookcases. You would be surprised to see how many books can be stored under a double bed ;) Oh yeah we also share the place with a dog, cat and bird ! --Lisa C

Our family lives in an apartment and we homeschool our 6th grade daughter. We have learned to use the space we have wisely.

  • Even before we homeschooled, our family had lots of books. Now we just have more. Bookcases are a must for us.
  • A filing cabinet has been set up in our kitchen. It not only contains homeschool paperwork, but also is a place to set our phone and phone books.
  • Plastic "cubbies" from Wal-Mart on roll-around wheels house our school books that we are using.
  • Use cardboard boxes from Wal-Mart to store items under your bed.

--Barbara C.

It takes organization. We have 2 kids, 2 cats, 2 adults and a bird in a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. We've always loved books, so we do have tons of bookcases and shelves everywhere! But homeschooling meant more books and a greater need for organization and neatness. For us that meant the whole home, not just our school supplies.

  • High shelves around the rooms to put rarely used things. Off season clothes stored in plastic boxes, seasonal decorations, etc...
  • I tackled every closet in our place: everything went into labeled plastic storage boxes, matching sheets got grouped together and stuffed into a pillow case, I discovered that I had lots more closet space when I was done...
  • I switched from a large file cabinet to small portable file cases. They take up less space and will fit on a book shelf. All of our important papers are in these things.
  • Our curriculum has its own box. I tried a shelf at first, but found that things tended to stray. I got a very large plastic box with lid and now our entire year's worth of books, papers, etc go into the box. It hides in a closet when not in use.
  • I redid my kitchen; hung a pot rack, put my "pretty" dishes on open shelves, organized my cabinets so that everything was easy to access and made sense. I gained more space and no longer had to plow through my canned goods to get to my pots and pans.
  • In the kids' room: we gave up the open shelves and toy box concept for the cubbyhole and plastic tub method. Our oldest has a loft bed and we put all of the toys, art supplies, etc under her bed in boxes, cubbies and the like.

Basically, we use shelves everywhere that we can. Items that cannot be set neatly on a shelf are placed with other like items in storage boxes (and label those things!) Every space got re-done with an eye toward saving space, keeping things very neat and easy to access. We started using unused spaces: really high shelves in the kitchen, adding high shelves in rooms, under the bed boxes, etc for things that you don't use very often. (I'd rather get a step ladder out than trip over an item everyday!) We invested in attractive boxes for the places where it would show, and went for the clear plastic type where they don't show. The trick is to use every bit of space efficiently, and maximize your storage. By the way, my house does not look like a warehouse or storeroom.

My living room and kitchen are very prettily decorated. The kids room is attractive, fun and *neat*! Our bedroom is our haven and the bathroom is beautiful. I have not given up my lace curtains and ruffled tablecloths or my throw pillows and flowers. While I've learned all of these tricks to maximize space, I've also learned this: In a small space, you want efficiency, however, if your *goal* is efficiency, you'll fight yourself the whole way. If your goal is having a beautiful home, you will find ways to make it work *and* look beautiful too! ----Rochelle C

We recently moved to a twice the size of our old house, but I definitely know what it's like to not have enough space. When we bought our house, we instantly filled it up. Then we added 3 kids AND my husband came home to work! Having him come home was the straw that broke the camel's back, because he's a medical transcriptionist and needs to hear tapes that are REALLY bad! (Nothing like doctors who eat, shuffle papers and talk to other people while dictating!). The kids running up and down the hall of our tiny house just didn't cut it.

Before we decided to move, I invested in those rolling plastic drawers, and that made a huge difference. Maybe you have a few pieces of furniture that, if you got rid of, might make a room much more workable. It's much cheaper to spend a few hundred dollars by changing to more efficient furniture than adding on or moving!

The other thing is to realize that if your home is efficient for you, it doesn't have to be a showcase for a special visitor who might stop by once a year! Day to day living is more important than having perfection! --Mary Leggewie

We live in a house with filled bookshelves everywhere and piles of school books and work also everywhere. We bought both very cheap bookcases (5' high by 2.5' wide were cheapest) and also bough a half dozen 3' high plastic rolling "drawer towers". As food can be cheap or cheaper, when we want another couple books or a bookcase then we can always do cheaper food (e.g., boxed breakfast cereal is rare because it's expensive by the pound). Our dinner table, until just recently was dedicated to schooling, so dinner was a bit more scattered than for most people. We try to give things away which have already gone unused for a year or two (except books). I don't know of any homeschooling family that has "enough" space, so don't plan to make the cover of House Beautiful while your children are still at home. --Chuck S.