Tuesday, July 22, 2014

6 Parenting Milestones Not in the Books

You won't find these mentioned in most parenting discussions, but you will appreciate them when they happen. 

Not needing to dress for boob access. For years (years, people) I wore only two-piece outfits (no dresses, ever) and shirts that could easily be yanked up from the bottom. Not to mention very ugly bras. 

Being able to leave your coffee cup on the end table for 30 seconds. You can walk across the room to get something without fearing ninja child will grab it and smash it to the ground.

When your child can wipe their own butt (sufficiently). Do I really need to say more about this?

Playing the back yard alone. The kids, not you. The transition from needing to be right there lest they shove a rock up their nose to hey, I'll be inside doing xyz I'll check on you in a few minutes is quite freeing.

When your oldest child learns to read. Of course witnessing your "baby" reading a book from cover to cover is awesome in its own right, but how wonderful it is when they can read to their younger siblings so you can take advantage of the 90 second distraction?

No longer carrying a ginormous bag for quick errands. Letting go of the backpack/diaper bag and just carrying a normal-sized purse out the door was a nice change. Of course we still "pack" for longer trips, but for typical day-to-day outings we can get away with a minimum of stuff.

What other "milestones" would you add to this list?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, or Bloglovin. I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress (at) gmail (dot) com.

Linking up with List It Tuesday, co-hosted by Angie at Real Life at Home and Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Great Early Elementary Fiction Series

My bookworm Agents are always on the lookout for new books to get into. They especially love when they find several books about the same character(s). Sometimes they just wander around the fiction section of the children's library until they find something interesting. In the last month or so, we have found a number of new-to-us titles.

Following are seven book series (with links to more info) my soon-to-be first and third graders are reading now:

These follow the movie dialogue pretty closely, which makes them a nice, quick read.

Random adventures with the princesses we all know as the main characters.

Grace is in third grade, loves cats, and is trying to find her way.

We didn't realize this one was a series at first; we just saw a book about an eight-year-old girl preparing to move.

Yep, the same talking dog you love from PBS is now in book form for older kids.

Are you excited? Are you? Are you? Are you? 

Four young friends discover the way to Never Land.

What books are your Agents reading this summer?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, or Bloglovin. I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress (at) gmail (dot) com.

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How We Homeschool for (Practically) Free

Yesterday I shared a post about how we homeschool the early elementary grades without spending much money (averaging $10 per year so far). Today I am writing about three ways we make that happen.

We don't buy curriculum. 

I don't mean we don't buy brand new, or we only shop on eBay, or we look for bargains. I mean, we. just. don't. use. it. I know this is something that will likely change as the Agents grow (the oldest is in third grade) but in the early elementary years it's pretty easy to create a "homemade" course of study.

I've written about our homeschooling planning process and some ways we build our own curriculum in these posts:

We use the library. A lot. 

Most of our studies use primarily books from the public library. Right now we are averaging about 50-60 books out at any given time (although that number has been known to creep up to 80 or higher). Wanna learn something new? Read about it! Anything your child is interested in learning . . . there's a book about it. Probably twenty.

We also hit the library's used book sale twice a year. At the last one, we scored 90 (yes, 90) books for $20.

I've written about books many times on this blog. Following are a few of my favorite "book" posts:

We don't pay for things we can get for free. 

There are many wonderful websites for learning at home that charge a subscription fee. We don't use any of them. Why? Because there are just as many (if not more) that offer basically the same services for free. 

If your child is a Worksheet Person (like Agent E) there are zillions of options to choose from. A simple Google search will lead you to a never-ending supply of free printables for every subject imaginable.

Also, every Kindle game we have downloaded in the year and a half we've owned the device has been free. Even some of the more expensive learning games eventually have a "free today only" thing going on; you just need to check.

Here are a few posts about specific (mostly free) resources we have used in the last three years:

How do you keep homeschooling expenses in check?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, or Bloglovin. I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Cost of Interest-Led Homeschooling

We are getting ready to enter our fourth year of homeschooling (um, how did that happen?) and I've been lesson planning (with Agent help) the last few days. 

One thing I've been thinking about as I plot and plan is how little money we've actually spent on homeschooling materials for the Agents

I looked back on our notes for the last three years (kindergarten, first grade, and second grade for Agent E, and kindergarten for Agent J) and did a little calculating. 

Of course, we've also had to pay for three portfolio evaluations so far. (We did not need to do one at the end of Agent E's kindergarten year, because we were living overseas at the time. So, just first and second grades for E and kindergarten for J.) At approximately $40 each, that is by far our biggest home education expense.

But, for the purposes of this post, I'm thinking in terms of curriculum. supplies. stuff.

Senior Agents shortly after we started
our homeschooling journey (fall 2011)
I don't count things we would have paid for anyway, regardless of whether or not they attended public school. So, we would still own a nice printer, we would still have gotten a zoo membership, we would still have Internet access, we would still travel, we would still buy too many art supplies at The Target.

Reading-for-pleasure books, something we might pick up for the Agents for a birthday or Christmas present or at a used book sale, are also not added in here, because while they may read them during the school day or even use one of them in their "studies" (e.g., reading a historical fiction book about a girl living in 1812 while we're studying the war of 1812), they aren't purchased specifically for that purpose.

This year I bought both girls nice bound journals as well, but again, that is something they would have wanted even if they weren't homeschooling. (And something their Writer Momma loves to encourage, so, win.)

I also don't include the cost of paper (even though we print a lot around here) because I had a ton left over from my work-at-home days and we're still using that stash. (In my pre-Momma life I worked as a copyeditor—editing, layout, and source checks for textbooks and academic journals—for several years, including some time freelancing from home.)

Our house also contains approximately one million random pens and pencils, so no new expenses there.

So, that leaves only purchases made for no other reason except we're using it for something specific in our homeschooling.

Here's what I came up with:

Kindergarten for Agent E
Nothing, zero, nada. We did not incur any extra costs this year.

Total so far: $0

First Grade for Agent E
We used four workbooks (space, dinosaurs, and two on the United States) this year. They were $1 each. (Love the Target dollar section in late July and August!) We also used one of those comprehensive first grade workbooks that includes a variety of sections on math, writing, science, etc., but it was a gift.

Total so far: $4

Second Grade for Agent E
This year we purchased several workbooks. (Agent E likes to have something in front of her, something tangible to look at. She is definitely a workbook gal.) We used three math workbooks (this 3rd grade one from Amazon for $3.50, plus individual multiplication and division workbooks for $1 each), two animal books ($1 each), a book of science experiments ($1), a workbook on world landmarks ($1), and a workbook about the presidents ($1).

We used a few "mini fact books" I couldn't pass up because hello! sale! (e.g., 50 states, presidents) and some flash cards (because she's into that sort of thing) for a total of $6.

Total so far: $20.50

Kindergarten for Agent J
We didn't purchase anything specific for her this year.

Total so far: $20.50

Both girls enjoyed the Liberty's Kids DVD collection (four-disc set about the American Revolution), which we found on Amazon for $6. (FYI, it's only $5 right now.)

Total so far: $26.50

(I should add here that we also bought the complete Little Pim Spanish collection ($120 on sale), and technically we did study Spanish for a bit, but that was a Christmas present, so I'm not counting it.)

Somewhere along the way I also added some expandable folders ($4). We use binders, too, but we had those already.

Grand total: $30.50

So we're looking at $30.50 for the first three years, or an average of just over $10 per year.

Does this total surprise you? Were you expecting more? less? 

Tomorrow I will share more specific details on what free materials we use that allows us to get away with spending so little.

(You know, assuming I get the post written. Because, yo, life.)

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, or Bloglovin. I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress (at) gmail (dot) com.