Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day of Homeschool 2011

We had a great first day getting organized and oriented to the year ahead. Our school is down to five now as Lydia will be attending a local private school for 8th grade. Being that this is my 10th year of homeschooling, we decided it was time for a change. The curriculum has become increasingly eclectic through the years and thus increasingly complicated for the teacher. Therefore, this year we will be streamlining and participating in Classical Conversations. We are blessed to already know many of the families in the group as friends. I think I'm the most excited since I know what great things are ahead!

In attempts to make our first day extra special, we started with cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then we sat down and we came up with the "school rules". We each contributed one. Not much changes from year to year, but I always love the way the put things in their own words.

1. Don't cry. Either ask questions or get some help.

2. Don't interrupt mom.

3. Obey the first time.

4. Put away your books every day. If you can't find a book, you owe mom a dollar.

5. Ask for permission to use the school art supplies so they don't get lost. (That was mine:)

6. Drink a bottle of water while you do your school work.

Next, we brainstormed some snack and lunch ideas and field trips. We discussed the daily schedule, too. Though it can't be the same everyday, we strive for routines.

Since we are going to be referring to a lot of timelines this year, the kids made their own timeline of their life starting with their birth and spanning into the future. Here's what they created. I think I'll keep these precious papers for a very long time.

Miriam, 6th grade. She's not thrilled about being the oldest this year, but honestly I'm looking forward to spending some time with this special girl.

Elizabeth, 4th grade. I love the way that she thinks in pictures.

Joseph, 3rd grade. He even included the date for when pictures of Pluto will be transmitted back to Earth. Who knew?

Rebekah, 1st grade. How could my baby girl be a first grader already? She's so ready and very excited!

John, PreK. I love the picture of him being a doctor when he grows up. He loves to help people especially when they need a bandaid.

Finally, we spent some time making up our own, pocket sized dry erase assignment sheets. This will be just a quick check list of daily responsibilities on one side and school assignments on the other. They had fun picking out the clip art and fonts. It became a little lesson in computer skills.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wings to fly: Finances

How can it be that I'm a mom of a high school student? This seems nearly impossible since I, myself, just graduation from college. And yet, it is reality and I am actually excited to see what lies ahead as my older girls start to spread their wings. At the same time that Hannah goes to high school, Lydia will beginning a journey of her own. Her first school year outside of our home. They are ready and for once, I think I am, too.

When I consider that in four short years our oldest will be entering adulthood, I'm struck by all that still needs to be taught from our end as parents. We decided that the Freshman year we are going to be focusing on teaching our kids to budget, earn, spend, save and give wisely. The truth of the matter is that these things have to be learned through experience and practice with room for error. What a better place to learn that while still at home and early enough to get a firm grasp on it.

I can in no way take credit for this idea. I read it in a book last spring and thought it was brilliant. With some tweaking here's what we are doing:

1. We each made up a budget separately considering all of the out of pocket expenses that she incurs throughout the year beginning in August. Her catagories included: giving- tithe, gifts, clothing- necessities and wants, school- fees, supplies, lunches, sports- uniforms, camp fees, participation fees, game snacks, books, fun money. We encouraged her to research cost and try to think of every single thing that she might need money for and the real price.

2. We went out to lunch and had a "budget meeting" to compare. We had very similar categories and bottom line. After some small adjustments we signed it into agreement.

3. Sean and I are going to provide 80% of her budgeted needs in 2 payments (August 1 and January 1). She will be responsible to work, plan or readjust her budget for the remaining 20%. Each year of high school our provided percent will decrease and her responsibility will increase.

4. Now she is on her own to organize and keep track of where her money goes. We promised ourselves that we won't bail her out if she gets in a pinch. This will be a lot easier for me since at least I know that she has a roof over her head and food on her plate.

We've made it clear that although she has her "own money", we still are the parents and have the right to veto any purchase (specifically inappropriate clothing). Also, she has agreed to spend this money on the things specifically listed in her budget, so there will be no hoarding it back and then announcing a Spring Break trip to Florida. Truly, I wouldn't imagine these things happening. She is very sensible, but sometimes it is good to just get it all out there.

The younger kids have been watching this whole process carefully and are starting to take ownership. Miriam and Betsy are having some friends over for a sleepover next week. They went to the store with me to make out a budget of what they would need for rootbeer floats, crafts, candy, batteries for flashlights. They found some work to earn money and went back a few days later to make their purchases. They didn't even want me to walk with them in the store or help them through the checkout.

Overall, I'm looking forward to no unexpected costs creeping into the family budget, but yet I am also realizing I need to do some planning and extra shifts of my own. We are going to be shelling out a lot of cash here in the near future.