Can a Single Mother Afford to Homeschool?

As a single mother myself, I can honestly say “Yes!” You can homeschool your child(ren).

Also, as a single mother, I bring in about $8,000 a year. This is not a lot of money. Not at all. But I can still afford to homeschool my children.

How can I do this? Here are some tips to get you started if you are considering the homeschool route:

  • Right now, being that it is September, you will notice clearance sales for many homeschool items. Stock up on everything that you can. You can never have enough pencils, notebooks, binders, report covers, construction and white paper, loose-leaf paper, tape, glue, markers, tacs, index cards and crayons. There are other items that you will be able to use. One year I was able to purchase 10 (12 packs) of pencils for $1.00. You will use these items this year and every year. Get them at great prices when you can.
  • Take advantage of back-to-school sales during the summer months. This year, I purchased $1.00 worth of notebooks at $.05 each and 6 glues at $.33 each. I also take advantage of sale prices on page protectors and loose-leaf paper, along with many other items. I have found crayons for $.25 a box, glue sticks at $.10 for a pack of 2, and index cards at $.33 for index cards.
  • Purchase your school books at deep discounts.
  • Yard sales, clearance sales and thrift shops are your friends. You can purchase many books and other supplies at these places, including craft and school supplies. Take advantage of these places whenever possible.
  • Dollar stores are also your friends.
  • Borders will give you a teacher discount card, as will Staples. Ask around, and please let us know who you get discounts through.
  • The library is also a great resource.

Here I will give you examples of some deals that I have found:

  • $3.00 paid at a yard-sale for two complete children’s encyclopedia sets: One was a history set, the other was a science set.
  • A $30.00 book at Borders for only $2.95.
  • Saxon Algebra half homeschool book set with tests and answers for only $20.00 at a homeschool support group meeting.
  • Children’s and chapter books for $.10-$.25 each at yard sales.

I am very frugal and am able to find many deals. Do your research and see what you can come up with.

As you can see, you do not have to spend a lot of money to give your child a quality education.


An Unexpected Field Trip

Last week, while running errands, I took my nephew to Acme Pizza in Old Town. The owner was there, working the cash register. After we made our order, my nephew began a conversation with the owner, which led to us being able to see how our pizza was made, as well as getting a little tour of the place.

We had a great time, and it is an experience that my nephew will never likely forget. He is 11, and I am homeschooling him while his mother finishes her own schooling. He is staying with us for a bit as well.

Moral: Let your children start up conversations with business owners. Let them ask questions. You never know when you may get a free field trip out of it.


Family Baseball Games

First, you should know that I count close friends as family. It is a great honour, to be counted as family in a place where you are not actually related to anyone. I have a few friends, as well as their families, who are counted as family.

***

Okay, on with the post…

We have had family baseball games on a couple of occasions. We would get together with my sister and her children, Frank, and Judy and her children, to play a game of baseball. We dealt with what bats, balls and gloves were available, so that we would not have to purchase anything.

Those who couldn’t play for medical reasons were the cheerleaders, and boy did we Cheer. Even if a child did not get a run, we praised them for trying hard. We all had a great time.

After the game, we would a barbecue. The players had really built up their appetites by then. At this time, there would be lots of talk. Fun was had by all.


A Frugal (and Memorable) Birthday Party

When my daughters were little, I did not go all out moneywise on birthday parties. My main goal was not to spoil anybody, but rather to get our family and friends together for a while and to enjoy each others company. This is not to say, that on a rare ocassion, I wouldn’t do something special. But that was the exception, and not the rule.

Here is what a general birthday party was like in my home:

  • I would bake a homemade mayonaise cake with peanut butter frosting.
  • I would buy a half gallon of three-flavor ice cream.
  • I would buy a three-liter bottle of fruit punch.
  • My mother would donate napkins and/or paper towels.
  • My father would donate paper cups, plates and silverware, or we would simply use our regular dinnerware and I would wash dishes later.
  • My sister would donate chips and dip.
  • I would invite more people than I realistically had room for.

That’s it. Everyone loved the cake, and everyone would have a great time. We would all get to catch up, which was great. We only saw some of them a few times a year.

This is a great way to create and nurture family bonds, and to keep everyone close.


Family Bowling

When my daughters, Skye and Zowie, were younger, we used to go bowling. I do not bowl because of a back injury, so I always kept score. They loved playing against each other, and a little friendly competition never hurt anyone.

We would spend time together before and after bowling by walking there and back. They would bowl, and even created their own victory dances. We all had a great time.

Before heading home, we would go to the pizza place for lunch or dinner. This allowed us even more time to connect. Many things were discussed during these times together, and I will cherish the memories together.

Even when they were younger teenagers, they loved this tradition. We would go at the change of every season so that we could all be looking forward to it. As they got older, we began inviting one or more of their friends along with us, which allowed me to catch up with them as well.

Shannon

P.S. What is a family tradition that you and your child(ren) have? Discuss this with us in the comments section. Thank you.

Other Articles of Interest:

Resources for Single Mothers: Raising Teenagers

What Chores can My Children Do?


Fruit Salad

This is easy to make.

You can chop everything up yourself before hand so that young children can just put things into the bowl, or older children can help you by doing some of the cutting. Even young children can use a butter knife to cut up the banana, which is a great way to start teaching them how to use a knife.

Ingredients:

(How much of each ingredient you will use, will depend on how many people will be sharing this yummy treat.***Be sure to cut grapes and cherries small enough for small children to eat without fear of choking.)

banana, sliced in rounds and cut in halves or cut into fourths

apple, cored (peels left on) and cut into small chunks

grapes, halved or cut into fourths

kiwi, peeled and chopped

cherries, halved or cut into fourths

mini marshmallows, don’t go overboard (at the holidays, we use the colorful ones!)

whipped topping, just enough to bind it all together

1. Just put it all into a bowl and mix it all up.

2. You can dish this up ahead of time into sundae cups or fancy bowls, but we usually just have it on our dinner plates at holiday meals.


Snacks and Sides to Pack for School and Work

My favorite snack or side to pack in lunches is a trail mix. I make many, and each is a little different from the last. All you have to know is the main components, as well as to pack them in sack size baggies (which I wash and reuse) for easy grabbing. You could also put it into a big container and put it into smaller containers to pack each day. Be sure to make enough to last the week.

Main Components:

  • grains
  • 1 small treat
  • seeds and/or nuts
  • fruit

Here is a sample recipe. It makes a lot, but won’t hurt anyone if they have it two or three times a day. I always use store brand items.

1 box rice chex cereal

1 box corn chex cereal

1 jar peanuts

1 jar sunflower seed kernels

1 cup raisins

1 package assorted dried fruits

1-3 small candies per bag/individual container

Just mix it all up and put it into whatever type of containers you wish to use.

Below are some other ideas for you to consider for snacks:

  1. If you must have chips for a snack, buy 1 large bag and take from that each day.
  2. Do not buy individual snacks and beverages. They cost too much over the long run.
  3. Keep a few days worth of vegetables cut up in the refrigerator.
  4. Always have fresh fruits available.
  5. Purchase as big a container of any type(s) fruit that your household will eat within four days. Spoon it into individual containers to throw into the lunch packs.
  6. Buy a big box of crackers and make your own peanut butter and crackers.
  7. You can also purchase blocks of cheese, which are freezable in weekly servings. Cut or slice for crackers and cheese.
  8. A large yogurt can be purchased and used throughout the week by putting it into individual containers.

Depending on what you have for containers, you may wish to pack these sides:

  1. Corn.
  2. Carrots
  3. Veg-All
  4. Peas
  5. Beans
  6. Broccoli
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Fruit cocktail
  9. Vegetable sticks and yogurt or peanut butter dip
  10. Rolls or biscuits
  11. Whole wheat bread
  12. Pumpkin bread
  13. Apple bread
  14. Banana bread
  15. Zucchini bread

The list goes on. For some things, you may need a hot/cold thermos. For most hings, you will not.

Shannon

PS.

For ideas on how to save money when packing for school, work or trips, as well as ideas on how to keep foods hot and cold, see the post Making Lunches and/or Dinners to Bring to Work under the category Money Matters.

Yes, children can be trained to bring home reusable items. And, they can learn to be environmentally friendly.


Lunch and Dinner Ideas for Work, School and Trips

Most days, one of these meals will be what you are packing. Here are some recipes and ideas for you to try.

Shepherd’s Pie:

cook and mashed potatoes

1 can of corn, half the liquid drained

browned ground beef

  1. Put ground beef in the bottom of a baking dish.
  2. Spread the corn and liquid over the beef.
  3. Spread the potatoes over the corn.
  4. Bake until warmed through.

Refrigerate leftovers to be used for lunches.

NOTE: Feel free to mix things up a bit. Use a different meat or vegetable.

Easy Lasagna:

  1. Cook as many noodles as you need.
  2. Take out baking sheet and put 1/4 cup of water in it, then sauce.
  3. Layer the following ingredients until they are almost to the top. End with a cheese layer: Noodles, sauce, browned meet, cheese.
  4. Bake until cheese melts all the way through.
  5. Refrigerate the leftovers for the next day.

 ***

  • When making pasta and sauce with meatballs, cook the pasta until just before done.
  • Be sure that you have all components of your meal: Protein, 2 fruits and/or veggies and grains. Some people also require dairy.
  • Pack a salad as a main meal, with cold chicken strips, sandwich meat slices and/or a hard boiled egg.
  • Make a variety of sandwiches so it never gets old eating them.
  • When packing beans, don’t forget to pack either bread, rolls or biscuits to go along with it.
  • Making pats of butter is easy: Simply cut them from stick butter and place in between small squares of wax paper (also reusable). You can place a bunch on a plate to keep int he refrigerator.
  • Or, just spoon some into a tiny container with a tight-fitting lid.

***

Vegetable Soup:

1 regular size can condensed tomato soup, plus 1 can of water

1 small can of corn, drained

1 small can of carrots, drained

1 small zucchini, skin left on, sliced into rounds and each round cut into fourths

  • Dump can of soup into saucepan.
  • Add the can of water.
  • Add all of the vegetables.
  • Cook until everything is warmed through.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.
  • You can make a big, family size batch by using a family size can of soup and water, and by at least tripling the amounts of each vegetable.
  • Try a different vegetables each time you make this for more variety.

Shannon

PS.

For ideas on how to save money when packing for school, work or trips, as well as ideas on how to keep foods hot and cold, see the post Making Lunches and/or Dinners to Bring to Work under the category Money Matters.

Yes, children can be trained to bring home reusable items. And, they can learn to be environmentally friendly.


Making Lunches and/or Dinners to Bring to Work

With prices the way they are these days, we are all looking for ways to cut corners. One of the best ways that I can think of, for those who work outside the home, is to bring your own meals to work with you. This post will discuss ways in which you can do this.

  1. Be sure that you have the proper tools in which to pack your meals with. For instance, you will want a reusable lunch pack, a hot/cold thermos or two, and reusable containers in which to pack individual foods in. You will also want some cloth napkins, and perhaps a fabric place-mat. Reusable silverware is also important.
  2. Find some good leftover recipes. Anything that tastes good reheated or cold is the way to go.
  3. Learn to make different types of sandwiches.
  4. Make food from scratch whenever possible.
  5. Learn to make different types of trail mixes.
  6. Hot/cold thermoses will come in handy for many things. For cold items: Salads, milk and other beverages, and cold soups are but a few things that you will enjoy bringing to work with you. For hot items: lasagna, stews, soups, pasta and sauce with meatballs, shepherd’s pie, chili, beans, and the list goes on.
  7. Begin cooking for leftovers. Whenever you could dinner, cook enough to bring to work with you the next day. Whenever you make a dessert, pack a slice or a cookie away for lunch or dinner the next day.

How are you saving money by doing these things?

By reusing containers, napkins and such, you only have to purchase them once. If you keep track of everything, you will not likely have to purchaser them again.

By bringing your own food, you are drastically cutting your work expenses. Homemade foods are healthier than what you can order at any restaurant, so you are also saving on medical bills.

How much time will it take you to make your lunch to bring?

No time at all, really. The biggest task will be in heating your food in the morning and transferring it to the hot/cold thermos. A lot of things can even be packed the night before.

What If there is a microwave at work?

Well, if not too many people use it then you will save even more time and money here. You will not need a more expensive hot/cold thermos, for one thing. And, while you are putting away dinner the night before you go to work, you can simply put some into the reusable container that you will be bringing to work. Be sure, if using this method, that the container you are using is microwave safe.

For the rest of this week, I will be posting ideas and recipes for you to try when packing your meals for work.

Shannon


Rewarding Good Behaviour

My nephew spends a lot of time with me for various reasons: His mother works, goes to school full time, interns, and he doesn’t want to behave for her in general. His behaviour is usually pretty extreme, and he is hard to handle. He is staying here for a little while. He had a very bad weekend at home, and had to be brought back to me early. He did not like this at all, but does not have a choice.

I take that back, he does have a choice. He can choose to behave. He is almost eleven, and we are all working hard to change his behaviour before he becomes a teenager.

Dealing with his issues this past weekend suddenly made me think about my daughter, Zowie. She is the one who is still at home. She is basically a good kid, who has rarely ever given me any trouble.

This summer, she joined the Upward Bound Program, which is for college prep. She wants to go to college for Child Psychology, and is planning on ten extra years of school to accomplish her goals.

She studies hard, and has been studying for PSAT’s and SAT’s for the past week. She is sixteen, is homeschooled, and she takes Biology and Algebra at a neerby high school. She is very busy.

It also occurred to me that, with all of the studying she does, it will be hard on her having her cousin around. If he acts up, she will not be able to concentrate. Plus, it would be stressful for her even if he did not have behavioural issues.

I did some things for her this weekend:

  • I talked with sister #1, my nephews mother, and she said that Zowie could spend any weekends at her house that my nephew has to spend at home with me. While there, her other son can help her study for tests. Generally, my nephew goes home on the weekends. However, after the problems this weekend, we decided that he will not be going home next weekend. Zowie will be going there instead.
  • I talked to sister #2 and she agreed that, during the week, Zowie could go there any time to study or just to visit if she was unable to concentrate due to our nephews behaviour.
  • I bought her a snack size package of Oreos. I gave them to her and told her that I really appreciated her good behaviour. I thanked her as well. I gave her the cookies, and said these things to her, in front of my nephew so that he could see that good behaviour will be rewarded.

We, as single parents, have a tough job. Parenting is not always easy. We should all try to remember to reward good behaviour. Given the current circumstances, I am convinced that this is something that all parents should be doing on a regular basis.

Below are some ideas on how I may reward each child for good behaviour. What ideas can you come up with for your children? Feel free to post them here, as others may be able to use them as well.

Zowie (16):

  • Money to go to a matinee with her friends.
  • The privilege of going to social events with friends who live far away.
  • The privilege of visiting those friends for weekends and vacations.
  • I can bake her favorite dessert.
  • I can make special meals for her.
  • I can take her to the movies.
  • I can take her out to eat.

Nephew (11):

  • I can take him to a movie.
  • He can visit his mother.
  • He can talk to her on the phone every evening that he can behave.
  • A trip to the playground.
  • I can take him out to eat.
  • I can take him to the library.
  • I can have a picnic with him.

I hope these ideas help some of you.

Shannon

Other Articles of Interest:

Are You Really Listening to Your Teenager?

How Can Teenagers Acquire Privileges?

When Should a Teenager Lose His/Her Privileges?

What Chores can My Children Do?

Children and Boredom