Can I homeschool if I work
It's ok to ask for help - 5 Ways homeschoolers don't have to do it alone
What is an Umbrella school
Are you a Homeschool Mom Bully
Can I homeschool Without Support

Is brand loyalty costing you money

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Stretching your budget can be a very stressful thing to do at times. With so many bills fighting for our finances it can be hard to keep up. One of the biggest things that can make or break a budget is brand loyalty. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some brands that I am loyal to indefinitely. However, that loyalty can sometimes cost you. Today I am going to answer the question, “Is brand loyalty costing you money?”

Is brand loyalty costing you money?

When businesses set out to build their brand they want you to think of them whenever you buy a product. When you think of homeschool bloggers I hope that More Than a Homeschool Mom comes to mind. I hope that that brand is part of your life. Brands like Coca-cola, Pepsi, Nestle, M&M, Lego, and many more are banking on the fact that when you think of a soda, cup of cocoa, candy, or toy, you will think of them. It’s where they make their money. Is it breaking your budget though? Here are a few questions to ask yourself?

What is the price difference between the product and the generic?

Many products have a generic. If you read the back of the label they will have almost all of the exact same ingredients.
Examples –
 – Medicines – Did you know that generic acetaminophen has the same thing as a box of tylenol? Many of your cold medicines are the same. They have the same chemical makeup for a fraction of the cost.
– Pregnancy Tests – There are many pregnancy test options to you. You do not need to buy the $15 test. Opt for one from the dollar store. It will pick up the HCG in the same way without costing you as much.
– Clothes – There are many brands of clothing that will offer you the same quality for a fraction of the cost. Use your discernment as some things have lesser quality.
Toys – Not all toys are created equal but sometimes you can find a generic toy that works the same way as the name brand without the extra cost.
– Food – Tastes can differ when you go generic so this could be a matter of personal preference. My favorite Mac n Cheese used to be the Velveeta Shells n Cheese. Now I get the same flavor and quality from Aldi with their brand for half the price. This means I can feed my family 2 meals instead of one. Did you know Wal Mart has a generic form of the girl scout cookies? Forget $4 a box. Pay under $2 a box. Save your budget and enjoy a delicious treat.

Are you paying for a name?

A lot of the time when you opt for name brand you are paying for the name not the product. The brand has built enough of a reputation that you will pay extra for the name. Look at the quality of the product. Is it really worth the extra money? If the quality can be matched by a different brand you are paying for a name not a product.

Is there a warranty or guarantee?
Sometimes it is better to opt for a name brand. If a brand stands behind their product and will replace it if there is a malfunction it may be worth the extra money. Make sure to look at the price difference before you buy. How much more are you paying for that warranty? Could you buy the store warranty and get the same benefits for a fraction of the cost?

Sometimes Quality Wins!
Lego is a great example of this. I have yet to find a Lego knock off that can rival Lego for quality. The company knows this and charges accordingly. There are certain items that you will pay more for due to quality. Here are a few of the things I will pay more for for the sake of quality.

Computers
Legos
Shoes – If I am going to be walking on it for a long time it needs to have some great quality. In general, cheaper shoes break down faster and I end up buying them more frequently.

Those are really my main ones. As you look at your item purchases, ask yourself, “Will I pay more in the long run by buying this? Will I have to replace it more often because of quality?” If the item is going to cost you less and still has the quality buy it instead of a name.

 

 

Can I work and Homeschool?

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This week I am continuing to answer your homeschool questions. One of the questions I get often is, “Can I work and homeschool?” For some moms working isn’t an option. Whether you are the sole breadwinner, make the highest salary, or barely make ends meet with two people working the job is necessary. However, there is still a deep desire to homeschool. There is no single answer to this question. Because of that I am going to give you questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether you can homeschool while working.

Can I homeschool if I work

How much do you work?
Do you work a full time job complete with overtime? If you are working 60 hours you probably don’t have a lot of extra time on your plate to use to completely homeschool your child. Look at how your time breaks down and decide whether you have the time to invest in your child’s education.

What schedule do you work?
A parent who works evenings may be able to homeschool during the day easier. Look at your schedule. Does your work schedule accommodate time for you to successfully homeschool your child? It helps to look at what part of the day you will be home. Some child learn best early in the morning while others prefer late afternoon or evening. Look at your schedule and your child’s learning style and see if the two can work together well.

Do you have a spouse who will help?
Sometimes homes with two working parents have a great opportunity. Either one parent can do the homeschooling while the other works or the two parents can each the subjects they are best at teaching while leaving the other subjects for their spouse. Have an honest conversation with your spouse. Discuss what it would look like for you to homeschool your child/children.

Can you work from home?
I work from home. I write this blog and I am also a virtual assistant for a few companies. I work part time right now. My hours work around the schedule of my children. I work for an hour in the morning while they are doing their wake up routine and starting their day. I work for an hour during their quiet time/nap time in the afternoon. I work a few hours at night after they go to bed. There is room in my day for them and then work comes when they don’t need me. Look at your work from home options. Could you work from home so that homeschooling would be easier?

Will homeschool be a priority?
After a long day/night of work it can be easy to need to sit down and rest. If homeschooling is your choice are you willing to put your rest on the back burner in order to teach your child? Are you willing to show up after working ready to teach your child? If you don’t see yourself doing that, it may not be a good idea.

What age are you teaching?
Children of different ages will require different amounts of time from you. Look at what age you are hoping to homeschool. Then look at how much of an independent learner they are. Some subjects may not need your direct teaching time with older children.

Can you manage your time well?
If you are going to work while homeschooling it will be important to have a well managed schedule. There won’t be room for wasted time. Make sure to look at how well you manage time or are willing to manage time before committing.

Do you work and homeschool? What tips would you give a mom considering homeschooling while working?

It’s ok to ask for help

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When you sit down to plan your homeschool year it can be overwhelming. There are so many things that a child should learn by the time they finish the school year. With the list of things they should learn it’s easy to either drop certain things or do your best and try to wing it. Guess what, you don’t have to. It’s ok to ask for help.

It's ok to ask for help - 5 Ways homeschoolers don't have to do it alone

Many homeschool moms see a list of things that need to be taught and fall for the lie that they have to teach it all. Did you know it is completely ok to ask for help. You were not made to be everything your child ever needs. In fact, you could be doing a disservice to your child by trying to be everything to them. I am going to share a few places you can go for help if you are overwhelmed and burnt out because of doing it all.

Co-Op – Plug in to a great co-op. Who said you have to teach everything? Join up with some other great homeschool moms and put together a co-op. Let someone play to their strengths while you play to yours.

Tutoring – Hiring a tutor doesn’t mean you have failed. Sometimes a tutor will teach things in a different way that your child is more willing to hear. Find a quality tutor for an area where your child is struggling and you may find some peace in your day.

Online Courses – Is there an online course that will teach the same information to your child while you accomplish something else? If your child can learn that way, please try it. Education doesn’t have to fit in a box. Your child will still learn what they need and you may have to time to poor energy into the subjects you are stronger at teaching.

Local Classes – Is there a local program or private school that lets children take a class for a fee? It may be worth it for you to look in to this option. Taking a class or two through one of these programs could relieve some stress you are feeling when it comes to teaching.

Video/Computer Curriculum – If your child is an independent learner at all look into video curriculum or computer based curriculum. This year I switched R to Teaching Textbooks and Institute for Excellence in Writing. Teaching textbooks is a computer based Math curriculum. Because R and I are in conflict a lot over Math this is an area where I am asking for help and letting her use a program that will teach the way she learns. With Institute for Excellence in Writing I am able to play the DVD’s and be minimally involved. This frees me up to focus on areas where she struggles and to teach the 5 year old.

What ways do you ask for help to keep from getting overwhelmed?

Walgreens Back to School Ad 8/23-8/29

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Staples Back to School Ad

Coupons in the ad
Wexford Index Tab Dividers 5 pk- 49 Cents – Limit 4
Wexford Erasers 2 or 15 Pack – 49 Cents – Limit 4
Wexford Pencils 8 pk – 49 Cents – Limit 4
Wexford Highlighter – 7 for $1 – Limit 7
Wooden Ruler– 7 for $1 Limit 7
2 Pocket Paper Folder – 7 for $1 – Limit 7 

Honorable Mentions
Buy 1 Get 1 Backpacks
Mr. Sketch Scented 6 or 10 pk – $3.99

Staples Back to School Ad 8/23-8/29

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Staples Back to School Ad

$1 and Under

Staples 1 Subject notebooks – 17 Cents – Limit 30
Staples Dual Dome Pencil Sharpeners – 25 Cents – Limit 5
Staples 12 inch ruler – 35 Cents – Limit 30
3×5″ White Index Cards 100 ct – 48 Cents – Limit 30
Staples No. 2 Pencils 12 ct – 68 Cents – Limit 30
Crayola Washable Markers 8 ct – 75 Cents – Limit 5
Staples Filler Paper 120 Pages – 75 Cents – Limit 30

 

See the entire ad here. 

Office Depot Back to School Ad – 8/23-8/29

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Office Depot Back to School Ad

Penny Items
These items will be a penny after a $5 purchase.

Office Depot Brand 2 Pocket Paper Folders- Limit 10
Office Depot Brand Eraser Caps 12 pack – Limit 3
Office Depot Brand Multipurpose Paper Ream – Limit 2

Under $1
Clear Pencil Box – 50 Cents 

$1
Sharpie Fine Permanent Markers 5 pk – Limit 3
Expo Chisel Tip Dry Erase Markers 4 pk – Limit 3
Office Depot Brand Graph Filler Paper
Office Depot Brand Graph Wireless Notebook

Honorable mentions
16 GB Lexar Flash Drive $4.99

Deal Idea:

Buy
3 Expo dry Erase Markers 4pk
2 Sharpie Fine Permanent Markers 5 pk
10 – Office Depot Brand 2 Pocket Paper Folders- Limit 10
3 – Office Depot Brand Eraser Caps 12 pack – Limit 3
2 – Office Depot Brand Multipurpose Paper Ream – Limit 2

Pay $5.15 plus tax.

 

When is a car a total loss?

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Last week I shared some things to keep in the car if you drive a lemon. Over the years I have driven some cars that were less than the best. In fact, my first 2 cars saw an early demise. My first car died because I didn’t know I was supposed to change the oil. Yeah, that was me… My next car was a plea to have something to drive. It was a gold pontiac grand am but calling it evil wouldn’t be a far stretch. It took me for all my money and then died. Right now we have another lemon. In fact the mechanic told me he thinks it has a demon. So when is a car a total loss? When do you say enough is enough?

When is a car a total loss?

How much are you spending to keep it running?
When I drove the grand am I had to keep oil, a jug of water, and a few other things in the car just to keep it running. That didn’t even include the cost of gas. It was just a constant battle to avoid the thing blowing up on me.
Look at your vehicle. How much is it costing you each month to keep it running? Is it worth that much? Would it be cheaper to fix it? Is it better to admit defeat and start saving up for something better?

How much are you spending in repairs?
Some of the lemons I have owned have needed a ton of repairs to be driveable. My van is like that right now. We bought it two years ago. Over the last two years we have replaced belts, motors, transmission, and even a radiator on this thing. The mechanic actually asked me to give up on this vehicle because it was that bad.
Look at what you are spending each time you get something repaired. Could that money be spent getting something more reliable? That money adds up quickly. Look at what you have put into it and ask yourself if it will ever really run well.

How much of a diva is your car?
Our current van is horrible. Right now it is running but only on it’s terms. The van will avoid overheating as long as we only drive it straight distances with minimal red lights and only take it to and from one place a day. Anything beyond that and the thing turns in to the incredible Hulk and heads straight for overheated.
If you are dealing with a vehicle like this, it’s time to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Right now we are dealing with the diva because we have to save up for something. If you are able to save up it would be a good idea to start when your car starts dictating the terms of your usage.

Is it safe?
If your car has certain issues it can actually be dangerous to drive. Talk to a mechanic you trust and find out if the car is road safe. I like to ask, “Would you let your wife or your daughter drive it?” Generally you will get a more honest answer when asking the question this way. It makes them stop and think about the advice they are giving you.

 

What is an Umbrella School?

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Being new to homeschooling can be overwhelming. It gets even harder depending on what your county expects you to do to keep up with standards. Some areas are good as long as you have an annual evaluation. Others want a portfolio of everything learned and completed. Some areas even ask for the amount of time you have been in school each day through attendance records. This is where umbrella schools come in to play. Today I am going to answer the question, “What is an umbrella school?”

 

What is an Umbrella school

The basic answer is, an umbrella school is there to keep the records and keep everything official to accommodate  government requirements.

What does an umbrella school do?

Report Cards– Because the umbrella school is keeping records for you they also offer a report card to your child.

Attendance Records – The umbrella school will be in charge of tracking attendance for you. They will keep a record on each child for you.

Field Trips – Some umbrella schools will coordinate field trips your child can be a part of.

Clubs and Sports – With an umbrella school you are able to participate in school clubs and team sports through the school.

Provide Private School Standing – If your area is restrictive with homeschooling, this may be a great way to get around that using an umbrella school as your private school credibility.

What does it cost?
Many of the options I have seen sit around $200 a year. Some may be more or less but that is a general guideline.

What can I do instead?
Does the umbrella school look like something you are not interested in paying for? There are some options available to you that will involve work from you but save you money and let you have freedom to do things the way you want to.

Attendance/Report CardsHomeschool SkedTrack and sites like it offer you a program where you can schedule your school work and track attendance.

Field Trips – Many homeschool groups will offer field trips using group rates without the need of an umbrella school.

Clubs and sports –  Many clubs and sports will let you either sign on through private groups. There are some school districts that will even let you join clubs and sports with your local school. Ask your local school what the rules are for your district.

Horizons Kindergarten Math Set Review

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Last year I was working to add a second child to the homeschooling adventure. I won’t lie. I didn’t always succeed. Due to this adjustment C was left with some areas in his Kindergarten Math education that were left unaddressed. I was going to move forward with him and try to soldier on by I decided it would be best to cement these items. As I made this decision I was invited to review the Kindergarten Math Set from Alpha Omega Publications and decided to take the plunge. I was hoping this would offer us a different learning experience and give me the ability to work on skills we didn’t do well with.

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set Review

What did I receive? 
I received the Horizons Kindergarten Math Set.

How were the lessons set up?
Each lesson focused on a different skill while building on the lessons before it. There is a short teaching time that involves getting hands on with the child and working to show concepts in a way a younger learner will understand them.

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set Review
After the lesson there are student pages to work on. These are full of color and very simple for the children to complete if they focused on the lesson time.

What did I think of it? 

For the start of the year we were able to do two lessons a day because some of the information was more of a refresher for him. However, as we continued he started to need to slow down and learn new concepts.

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set Review

 

 

I really like the way the teacher book set up each lesson for you. It did a great job of walking me through all the different parts of the lesson and the worksheet.

 

I also really liked that the worksheets were very colorful. Keeping the interest of a younger child can be harder but the bright colors help to engage the child in learning. C seemed to really like the sheets and often giggled about the different animals and drawings on them.

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set Review
The sheets also approach the same thing from different angles. One day you may count the animals. The next day, you may do a dot to dot on the worksheet. The variety was very good for C because he gets bored easily if things are the same.

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set ReviewAnother part of these lessons I am really happy about is handwriting practice. Each lesson has the child practice writing their numbers. There is also a focus on practicing counting in each lesson which is such a core need in Math.
As a whole I really enjoy this curriculum. It seems to be exactly what we needed for this school year.

How easy is it to use? 

Horizon's Math Kindergarten Set Review

This curriculum is very easy to use. With the simple layout and teacher book that lays out all of the lessons and what you will need for each one it will be almost impossible to be under-prepared. I highly recommend this curriculum if this is your first time homeschooling.

How much does it cost? 

The Horizons Kindergarten Math Set is $71.95 on the Alpha Omega Publications Site.

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SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

Are you a Homeschool Mom Bully?

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Being a homeschool mom can be amazing. It really can. However, sometimes it feels like you are trapped in the mean girls movie. I will never understand the cat fights that come over education choice and methods. I always thought that by becoming a homeschool mom I would never have to deal with bullies. Guess what. Some homeschool moms are bullies. Some homeschool moms are just mean.

Are you a Homeschool Mom Bully

Whether it’s a fight over what method is best or a vicious animosity towards non-homeschool moms I often feel like I am watching a pack of lions after their prey. They creep up. They ask what seems like a simple question. It can be something like, “So, what curriculum does your child use,” or “what school does your child go to?” The person answers thinking all is well. Next thing you know the homeschool mom has pounced and is pursuing her prey with extreme vigilance.

This breaks my heart! We are all on this journey together. Sure, some of us are going to educate differently. We are going to look at things like testing, school choice, and curriculum different. That is ok. I am not telling you not to have an opinion. I am not even saying we shouldn’t share our opinions. However, weigh your motives. Why are you really asking about a person’s school choice or curriculum? Do you really care or are you looking to share your opinion?

Are you the bully?

Maybe you don’t mean to be. You are just opinionated. You know what’s right. It’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Instead of listening with the intent of disregarding someone else’s homeschool method or schooling choice, listen and learn. They may know something that could change your life. If you don’t agree, will arguing or negating a person really change the way they do things?
Try listening to perspective. – Sometimes someone has a very valid point. Don’t miss it. For instance, R is dyslexic. Educating her with the classical method would crush her. If a parent assumes I am a bad mom because I won’t educate her classically without hearing why they rob themselves of information that could help someone some day.
Try holding your tongue. – I love the three questions that every person should ask, “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now?” Ask yourself these three questions before responding and you may be able to avoid the label of bully.
Just don’t ask. – If you know that you are very passionate to a fault about something don’t bring up that topic. There are friends I don’t talk about certain issues with because I know I will come off as a bully if I speak my mind. Save yourself and others the heartache and don’t go there.

Are you bullied by homeschool moms?
Don’t give them the space in your head. Who defines your value? If your value is defined by others you will be crushed often. Instead find your value in something bigger than the opinion of others. I personally look to what God and my family think of me instead of what my friends or acquaintances do.

Listen for what they are really saying. – Sometimes when you encounter a bully homeschool mom you are hearing all of her insecurities turned back on you. Listen to what is really being said. Sometimes you will find that it isn’t about you at all.
Give grace. – I have been the bully homeschool mom once or twice. I meant well but I hurt someone’s feelings with my over zealous attitude about certain issues. Give the person some grace. You never know if they meant it that way or not.
Call them on it. – People will only speak to you the way you allow them to. If you make someone aware that they are being hurtful they will either adjust their attitude or show their true self. You can either keep a friend of know when it’s time to let it go.
Don’t go there. – If you know it’s a hot button issue just don’t go there. Sometimes it’s best to just not touch certain issues.