Saturday, July 23, 2016

Creating a Homeschool Budget

If you haven't read "Let's Get Started", start there!

Welcome back to my series that is helping you get started on homeschooling. This series, along with my new Homeschool Planner Plus, will help you get started and organized so that you can homeschool your family.

If you have been wondering why I'm calling it the Homeschool Planner PLUS, the PLUS has to do with the extra information that I have added to the planner. There are many pages of organization, but there are also pages where I give you some tips. Most of these tips are just based on mistakes and trials that I have had over the past few years. I feel that all of us homeschool parents are meant to help and encourage each other, so I want to share my wisdom and hopefully help you!

Today, I'm going to share some information about homeschool budgets.

Here is a look at my budget for this year. As you can see, I have yet to total it up. Thankfully, I do not need many things for this year, but if you are just starting out, you might want and need more than you are comfortable purchasing all at once. Here are some thoughts on budgeting for homeschool that may help:

1. Make a note of things that need to be paid for now and things that can wait. 
In the above picture, you can see that my first two items are swim lessons for my children. $240 for swim lessons is not in our budget in September! Luckily, this includes what I will spend for the whole year and $120 will be all that I spend in September. The other $120 will not be needed until March or April. If you really cannot afford activities for your kids, but want them to have the opportunity to join group activities, consider asking for things like homeschool swim lessons, karate or dance classes for Christmas or birthdays.

2. Shop the off season!!!
Aside from lessons, remember that you may not need to buy ALL of your curriculum books right now. See on my list where I wrote "Explode the Code #4". I wrote that down in March. As it turned out Christianbooks.com had a sale in the spring and I was able to get many of the "Explode the Code" books for $4 and under! There are many ways to save on curriculum, but checking out the homeschool websites between October and April can save you some real money!

3. Only buy what you need.
The next item on my list is printer ink. I hate that I need to put that on my list, but I use my printer often for school and nothing is worse then when I have no ink! When I wrote it down, I was expecting to pay $75. That was because I thought I was going to buy one of the sets of ink that has all of the colors and black. As it turned out, I have been very conservative with my color ink, so I decided to buy just the black ink. Also make a note, my printer ink has the option of buying longer lasting ink. This kind of ink has whatever the number is for your ink cartridge with the letters XL after it. These may cost more, but the once that I used will provide more than double the pages for a cost that is NOT double the price!!!

4. Keep your eyes open.
One of my most favorite things about summer in Pittsburgh are the church rummage sales! I have found so many gems for next to nothing! You can see that next on my list are the math books that I need for my son and the handwriting books that I need for my daughter. My eyes are wide open looking for these items! I will also be scouting ebay to see if I find them. Typically, what I find at the church rummage sales are math manipulatives. I have been lucky enough to actually go to sales where they are doing "everything you can fit in a box for $5" and find classes sets of stuff like tangrams and puzzles to go with them. That's like finding gold!!! I always grab up that stuff and I share with whoever can use it.

5. Freebies!!!!!
One thing that I planned to have on my list, but no longer need is Science curriculum for this year. I had made my mind up about what I was going to use, but did not purchase...I REALLY like to wait and not jump the gun. Well, patience paid off! A friend of mine is still new to selling Usborne Books. She asked me to host an online party and I told her that I would try my best. As it turned out, the party went insanely well! I received over $150 in free books and Usborne happens to have some great Science books, so I'm going to use what I got from there for Science this year. Here are some examples of Usborne books that I already own (my new books haven't arrived yet). Nothing is better than free!! Consider having your own Usborne party and you can also receive free books or you can order right from the site. This link, will take you to the site of the friend that was the consultant for my party. Lauren is also homeschool mom and would love the business.
Isn't this cover beautiful? The pictures
inside are just as wonderful!!!
This book may look familiar if you saw
 the post on our egg hatch. I was in love with
 this book, so I bought it!!
6. Buy your school supplies with the rest of the back to schoolers or shortly after they go back to school.
Although you may not need tons of school supplies, if you even need a few, back to school is the best time to buy. Even if you overbuy, I'm sure you will not be sorry! If you don't believe me, wait until October to buy a pack of Crayola markers. The price will no doubt be $3.97 or thereabout for 8 markers!!! That same pack of markers will be around a dollar during back to school. I usually buy 2 or 3 packs of markers and crayons per child for school. This allows me to get rid of ones that aren't working or crayons that have broken and start new midyear. I also use back to school time to load up on super cheap, like penny deals at CERTAIN office supply stores for things like "stuff a bus" donations. One year, our church was asking for donations of backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need. I was able to buy a backpack and fill it with supplies for less than $10.

Well.....get started on that budget!!! For more help on getting started with homeschooling, stay tuned!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Let's get started...


       Yesterday I was so excited to tell you about my new "Homeschool Planner Plus". Today, I'm sharing some of information about what you need to do to get ready for the year and how you can use this planner to help you.
      The first thing that you will want to do when you decide to homeschool make a list of things that you need to do. However, that's tough when you don't know what to do! I put together a list for you and it's available as a checklist in the planner.
       The first item on the list is reviewing the homeschool laws for your state. Every state will have their own set of rules. Some states do not require you to do anything to check in. To find the rules for your state, search for the name of your state followed by the words "department of education". 
     
      In Pennsylvania, children do not need to officially be registered with the local school district until the age of 8 (that applies to all areas except Philadelphia and there are a few other exceptions....see Pennsylvania Department of Education for more on this). At that time, if you are planning to homeschool your child, you should right up an affidavit, have it notarized, and deliver the affidavit to your local school district's administration office. It is highly recommended that you hand deliver this if possible and get a receipt or some notification that it was received by the school. If you mail the affidavit, make sure that it is sent certified mail.
      During your school year, there are just a few things that you should be doing to prepare for the end of the year. 
            1. Keep a log of the days that you are schooling
            2. Keep a log of books that you use for school
            3. Determine if your child needs to take a standardized test and research that EARLY
            4. Keep some sample of what you child is doing in an envelope or binder
            5. Find an evaluator for the end of the year


Well, researching the rules for your state can be overwhelming, so I'm going to stop here and let you catch up!!!

**Please note that the above rules for PA are a quick summary. There are many exceptions that you should read about and learn on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website

Next up....Creating your homeschool budget!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Homeschool Planner Plus!!!

I've been so working on this in my mind for over a year!!! I'm excited to share that I have a great series coming up to help families that are new to homeschooling!!!

If you are ready to learn more, download my new product called "Homeschool Planner Plus".

There is lots of great information in this product, but some additional help if you are a homeschooler in Pennsylvania....since I happen to also be! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hatching Chicks - Part 2

Today is day 10 of our hatching project! I want so badly to have something to share with you, but taking pictures of these eggs is very difficult!! Here is what I do have...

video
 This video will (hopefully) show you some of the veins that we can see when we "candle" the eggs.
This is the one picture that I got that showed anything. See that light spot on the bottom of the egg? That is the sac of air that the baby chicks will take their first breaths from! Each egg has a nice air sac.

That's as "eggciting" as things are getting around here. We have about 10 more days until hatch day! We are excited to see which egg will hatch first!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hatching Chicks - Part 1

Have you ever been so nervous about something that you create your own obstacles to keep yourself from feeling guilty about not doing "the thing".

I have been tossing around the idea of hatching baby chicks with my children for a couple of years. I learned about this farm that is about an hour away from us and they give you everything you need to do the entire project! They even let you bring the chicks back when you're done, which is just the right amount of commitment for me!

After coming up with a couple years worth of reasons to not do this project, I finally jumped in with both feet and scheduled a day to pick up everything and visit the farm.

Prior to going, I searched TeachersPayTeachers.com to see if I could find any resources that would go along with this project. I did not find anything that I felt was really good, so this has also turned into a working project for me.

How about some pictures?
 
This is the bin (which will become a brooder) that we picked up from the farm. They included all of the supplies in here. We HAD already started to unpack it.....we couldn't WAIT to get started!
Here are the rest of the supplies that came in the bin. This is the incubator, eggs, and the "candle" (aka...led flashlight for looking at the eggs as they grow)
 These books also came in our bin. They are amazing when it comes to explaining what is happening with our eggs.

We were told to let our eggs settle for a few hours from the drive home. The farmer also said that we could write on the eggs if we wanted to name them. We couldn't resist! Introducing.......

 DADDY
 EGGLET
 MAX JR
 ISABELLA
 and LUCY
(We also have Chicklet....he seems to be MIA, but he's here)
Once everyone was named. We put the eggs into the incubator and we were off!
The next day.....

I wish I had a picture of my daughter when she got up and realized that there were not any baby chicks yet. This will certainly be a good lesson in patience for her.
At this point, I had started on my egg hatching activity for my store Wedded Mommy Bliss. The first activity was to look at the eggs and just color the 7 eggs to look like the eggs that we had. We also answered questions about what we felt and smelled. I loved that my son said that it smelled like scrambled eggs in the incubator.
 On the left, my son only wanted to color "his" eggs.My daughter and I worked on the right side. You can see the big black "X"....I did that, because we lost "Snowball" (yes, he didn't even get pictured above...) before we ever even got started.
Here are our eggs, just keeping warm!
This project will continue until the end of February. Please check back to see how we are doing and when our baby chicks hatch!!

Also, please visit Wedded Mommy Bliss to find my egg hatching activity. Likely it will be finished well before the eggs are hatched!