5 adjustments we made to become a homeschool family
1. One-income budgeting
Coupon clipping, meal planning, writing and monthly revising our budget are now new topics of interest for me. Survival skills really.
I do all I can to try to make extra money. I'm glad I have a degree because I can not only substitute teach when my husband has Mondays off during the week, but I can tutor kids in the evenings and during the summer breaks. My time is as valuable as I make it. If I have a productive day cleaning the house in between lessons, that is valuable. If we get out and serve the community- valuable. If we exercise- valuable. I had a hard time with not contributing a paycheck to our family at first, but with encouragement and appreciation from my husband I feel more valuable than ever to my family (just less to the world around me).
Budgeting was really hard at first. I read lots of tips, but the book that helped me most was Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. Common sense tips that were hard to implement and follow at first, and getting easier now. We tithe, we don't use credit cards, we save money for yearly bills and budget for monthly bills. We have emergency savings accounts. Now we are working on budgeting with our future in mind. I keep thinking of it as a financial diet (even though that word alone will discourage people). We just keep adding small goals that make us live healthier until we've changed the way we live.
2. Reaffirming our decision
At first I asked my husband almost weekly (sometimes more often than that even) if we were making the right choice for our child when deciding to homeschool. I ask him this question less and less, but it still comes up. That's normal and ok. It's not a decision to take lightly.
3. New friends
We began seeking out people who had experience and knowledge of homeschooling. Since both my husband and I were educated in public schools (as well as all of our family members) we needed to know more. And there were a lot more people out there than I expected to find. It is important to have a supportive community of people for encouragement, collaboration, and resources.
This may sound silly but I love that our living room is now our school! I love to search online to see how others have set up their learning areas at home and in classrooms. In our education programs in college I was taught environment does impact learning. (Just the other day a friend of mine chose her son's kindergarten teacher based on walking into the classroom).To be surrounded by learning material is this teacher's dream for her children. Not sure my husband enjoys it as much, but he's so supportive of us, proud of his kids, and he values learning too.
5. Answering the big question: Why?
In the beginning, I was mostly defensive about people asking me why we were choosing to homeschool. Maybe it was because I didn't have an articulate, intelligent response figured out yet. Maybe it was because I worried I was making the wrong decision. Maybe I felt insecure about my ability in parenting by making such counter-culture choices. It was probably all of the above and a few I'm still not aware of yet. But I do know, as my knowledge of homeschooling increase so did my confidence in my choice. Now that we have a little over a year of experience under our belts I'm much happier to share why we are homeschooling. A friend of mine said not to worry about defending your decision to homeschool, the end result will prove it was a good choice. Until then those who are curious will just have to watch and see, and listen to all the latest encouraging examples I've learned about or experienced. God led us to this decision. Sometimes that makes people uneasy. I need to trust him. My faith proved weak as I began to follow him in this direction for my kids, but it is growing stronger with each step as I see his will.