By Ann Clay
(For Part I of our Homeschool Summer Evaluation, click here.)
Now let’s examine other things about our homeschool experience from this last year. How did you spend your money? Are you satisfied with how it went, or do you feel regret or a need for a change?
Let’s face it; homeschooling can be expensive. Not only does the cost of materials add up, but you may also be dealing with loss of income if you or your partner have given up all or some of paying employment.
First, take a good hard look at what you purchased this time last year. How much did you actually use? Consider how much good it did you and your family. Did you have to browbeat your kids into using it? Was using the material pleasurable and interesting? Or did you have to fight them every day? Take the time to write down how much different things cost you vs. how much learning happened with the materials.
Now, what can you do differently in the coming year? Remember, just because something worked before does not mean it will work again.
Don’t forget to include classes you signed up for, field trip expenses, subscription services you used (magazines, journals, kits, museum memberships, etc.).
Include the Kids!
Do ask your children to review the materials with you and ask them for feedback on how much they’d like to repeat any types of experiences they already tried.
It’s important to include the whole family in this evaluation. Keep it casual, but make clear to all involved that you really do want to know what parts they liked and which ones they didn’t. It can be quite revealing to ask children what they think. Even though she may have carped about it every day, your daughter may tell you that yes, she learned a lot from that particular math curriculum, and that she would like to try it again. Or your son, who may have enthused about the history course he took at a co-op, might now decide he’d like a year off from that particular group. Honor his request. He may have reasons he doesn’t necessarily want to express to you.
Now, think about other places to get the things you want this year. How much of what you bought before can be purchased used. This is a good time of year to post on your message boards, email lists, and Facebook pages what materials you’d like to obtain for the coming year. Perhaps you’d really like a good quality microscope, a musical instrument, or something as simple as test tubes. Let people know you’re seeking them out.
Check websites like Amazon.com, Textbooks.com, Alibris.com (and don’t restrict your search to these—there are many). One of the best sources for free and cheap lesson plans and activities is teacherspayteachers.com, where thousands of teachers have posted their own plans and activities.
We hope you have enjoyed this evaluation series. There are, of course, other things to consider, like usage of space in your home, outside classes and activities, even your style of homeschooling. But this is a place to start from!