That was a nice, long sabbatical. And now we’re back (!) with bcbk 4.0: our adventures in learning and homeschooling. This is quite a pivot from the content that’s lived here in the past, but it’s such a big focus of our lives right now that I’ve decided to make it center stage.
Our family’s reasoning for choosing this path is multifaceted, and I’ll write about that in a future post. For now, I want to address some of the logistics. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of friends who reached out when I announced our unconventional decision last year, saying that they had also been considering some sort of alternative schooling. So here are the nuts and bolts of how we’re making this work, broken down by those two masters of logistics: Money and Time.
While not as expensive as private schooling here in the Seattle area (hello 24k for Kindergarten!), homeschooling costs can add up. Classes, teachers, coaches, camps, books, supplies, gadgets, museums, travel – there’s a lot to consider, and pay for. And a lot of open hours in a day not tied to a traditional school schedule. I am under no illusion that I’d be able to teach E everything we want him to learn – music, foreign languages, sports, etc. – so we spend a good amount of money on the people who can.
And we do it as a Single-Income Family. Husband has a well-paying job at a solid company, so we’re certainly not struggling but we are very intentional about where we spend our money.
Prioritizing the costs associated with homeschooling the way we want to is imperative to us. This means that most of our spending money goes towards educational experiences, including travel and creating a learning atmosphere at home. I’ll say that again: most of our spending money goes towards educational experiences.
We’re able to spend what we do on those because we don’t spend much elsewhere. To be direct, we’ve chosen to trade in pricier home furnishings, wardrobes, and nights out for music lessons, museum passes, and plane tickets. The decision to homeschool was not just a schooling choice, but a lifestyle choice.
*Fun fact: before he was even conceived, Husband and I agreed that our kid’s education would be our number one priority.
Husband was able to create an alternative work schedule (we’re all about thinking outside the box here!) so that he’s home more and able to participate in more of E’s learning experiences. In being around, he’s also able to give me little breather-breaks because being Mom and Primary Educator can be exhausting. Such a good partner, that one.
When it comes to teaching E, books are the lifeblood of our schooling. I am constantly reading books about parenting, education, and psychology. I create our Unit Plans from books. (Our Unit Plans, by the way, are Family Unit Plans, where we both learn about a certain subject.) Our primary way of learning, our springboard into different topics, is through reading. Our house is filled to the brim with library books – story collections, encyclopedias, picture books, chapter books, books on phonics and math, biographies, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Finding the best books, and reading them, and rereading them, takes time.
And when I’m not reading or teaching E, I’m often finding classes, combing through curriculum, communicating with staff, creating a balanced schedule, and chauffeuring. Again, a lifestyle choice.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re wondering how we make it work – the bottom line is that we’re incredibly intentional in how we spend our money and time, with most of our disposable income going towards educational experiences for our family, and most of our flexible time spent together, learning.
And despite the label, not all of our schooling takes place at home. E has taken classes at language centers, community centers, parks, libraries, and more. Beyond that, our family firmly believes that not all learning takes place in a structured environment – so we make room for play, for wandering about in nature, gardening, painting, marveling in museums, baking, splashing in the ocean, and flying elsewhere to better understand different cultures. All future posts. So I hope you stay tuned.