The Cheapest Homeschool Mom

August 21, 2008 | 3 Comments

Homeschooling has cost me very little. In fact I bet I’ve spent less to homeschool my kids than I would have if they were in public school.
cheap homeschool
Creative Commons License photo credit: mia3mom

Making lunch at home is cheap. I drive less because of homeschooling, saving gas money. I don’t have to buy lists of school supplies. There is no junky overpriced stuff to buy in the name of a “school fundraiser”, and no kids to schlep around town to sell said junk.

I’ll admit – when I crack open some of those homeschooling or educational supply catalogs, my mouth waters! I have intentionally stayed away from the homeschool conferences for this reason too. No reason to tempt myself with things that I probably don’t even need, or could acquire cheaply with a little creativity.

My overall philosophy on learning is that it doesn’t take money to get a good education. Forget what the politicians tell you, they’re trying to buy your vote with propaganda. Research has shown that more money thrown at the education system in this country doesn’t mean a darn thing in terms of the results. (Neither does class size, but that’s another blog post!)

Most of the well educated people we think of throughout history spent almost nothing on their education. For example, legend has it that Abraham Lincoln taught himself math with ONE piece of chalk and a slate. Great thinkers like Mark Twain learned from the people and events going on around them, not from fancy and colorful things sold in catalogs.

I have heard people say that homeschooling is expensive – not homeschoolers themselves, but people thinking about doing it.

They start pricing curriculums that cost hundreds (or more!) out of the box and wonder how they’re going to afford it – they’re also likely thinking of the cost of keeping one parent at home to oversee the child’s schooling.

The following ideas are some of the ways I’ve been able to homeschool on the cheap, and a couple of awesome book recommendations for hundreds more ideas.

Decide On Your Budget
Just like anything else that involves your finances, it’s wise to set a homeschooling budget for the year before you begin purchasing supplies. Just doing this one thing might keep you from buying a lot of unnecessary stuff that will end up in the storage closet or listed on eBay.

homeschool cheap
Creative Commons License photo credit: mia3mom

Know Thyself
Decide on your educational philosophy and be honest about your homeschooling style. This will rule out purchases that won’t work for your child or your family.

If possible, test-drive curriculum and other tools before you start buying. (Ask other homeschooling parents if you can peek at their stuff, or attend one of the homeschooling conferences.)

One of the reasons buying curriculum can be so expensive is because most of the time you’re buying it sight unseen. It may not be right for your child so you end up selling it at a fraction of retail on eBay.

To avoid this problem, get with the other homeschooling parents in your support group. Ask them what they like and dislike about curriculum they’ve purchased and used. Read messages on homeschooling support forums online and do the same. Deciding in advance what your style will be means you can adapt the tools to the method, not the other way around.

If you don’t want to design your own curriculum or go with an eclectic style however, curriculum in a box type programs may be cheaper than obtaining everything piecemeal. Look around at online auctions or other places where homeschoolers are selling their used stuff. You can pick up barely used supplies this way. You can also purchase inexpensive basic curriculum at bookstores for under $30 apiece. For example, the Learn at Home series are around $15, and I’ve seen them for less at warehouse stores.

Of course, the online virtual K-12 schools are a free option for a complete curriculum (I’ve also heard you can get a free computer and internet service provider as part of the deal). Some homeschoolers express concern about this because the child is technically still enrolled in the public school system, and they don’t want the intrusion into their private life. But it is an option for those who are really strapped.

Buy Used
You can find great deals at swap meets organized by homeschooling support groups. Hooking up with your local group also means group discounts on field trips. To find one, check with your local homeschool association – a simple internet search will likely turn up several in your area. In the small rural town I used to live in, there were half a dozen I could choose from! Try joining booking coops too.

Yard sales, thrift stores, eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, “for sale or trade” message forums for homeschoolers online are some more places to find cheap supplies. Public library sales is another place to find inexpensive books to fill out your family’s bookshelves. A homeschooler’s dollars are probably best spent on a solid home library.

Be Creative
When I was a kid, every child I knew who was homeschooling did Calvert. Calvert is a wonderful classical homeschooling program but it’s also quite pricey. Nowadays, many parents are getting creative and opt to design a curriculum. I’ve done this from the start. I don’t want to get stuck in a curriculum that I don’t like or that doesn’t mesh with my child’s learning style.

There are so many options for homeschoolers. You can create unit studies, you can go for a “living books” curriculum by making lists of reading material and getting the books from the library. You can print an almost infinite number of free online worksheets (just search for what you need, for example “free third grade math worksheets” etc).

Math manipulatives can be super cheap. Instead of buying fancy manipulatives from the educational catalogs, use stuff you have around your home to teach the kids math – dried beans, dried macaroni, Lego toys, wooden blocks, measuring spoons and cups can teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and basic geometry.
school supply mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: evelynishere

Be a Freebie Seeker
Did you know that many office supply stores host teacher appreciation days once a year around August? These are a source of free and discounted items and giveaways.

This month I attended one at Staples and got a free thumb drive for my trouble. (Last year they gave away a free tote bag filled with stuff.) So far I’ve spent less than $10 and have all the paper, pens, pencils, erasers and colored pencils I’ll need for the year.

Staples, CVS, Walgreens and Office Depot have been offering FREE and for a penny school supplies for several weeks now. They’re doing these loss leaders to get people in the store and it’s a goldmine for us homeschoolers.

Many larger bookstores such as Barnes and Noble also offer discounts to teachers throughout the year, including homeschooling parents. You just ask customer service for a discount card. They’ll put you on their email list and invite you to special educator days throughout the year with awesome speakers, giveaways, freebies, even free coffee and refreshments from the Cafe!

I got to meet Ron Clark, an award winning educator and author of The Essential 55 at one of these events. He signed my book for me then when he found out I was a homeschool mom, got out of his chair and bowed to me. LOL! Barnes and Noble also gives away free books in the summer.

Public libraries are a neverending source of free homeschooling materials. From the obvious – unlimited free books – to educational DVDs, great music on CD, music instruction on DVD and CD, arts and crafts activities open to the public, symphony days, storytime, even continuing education for older teens and adults.

These are the things I’ve always done to save money, but lately I’ve read a couple of awesome books that have given me tons more ideas.

Homeschooling on a Shoestring

This book was written by two homeschool moms whose families couldn’t have been more different. The thing they had in common was an intense love of homeschooling and their kids, and a desire not to let small budgets stop them.

What was interesting about this book is that it spends the first few chapters talking not about homeschooling per se, but about making more room in the budget, period. From saving money on groceries and other budget line items to launching home based businesses, it encourages making wiggle room in the family finances, which is helpful information all by itself.

Then the latter chapters focus on specific ways to educate kids for pennies. It covers everything from the basics of designing curriculum cheaply to enrichment activities like the arts, musical training and sports. It also spends a few chapters on teens and college bound homeschool kids.

The sections on teaching math using everyday items and also the information on teaching a second language were especially useful for me.

This book was written in the 90’s so the information on using computers and the Internet are a bit outdated but overall the book is chock full of useful tips and ideas.

One great idea I got from this book is to think more about bartering. I want my kids to have piano lessons but it’s not in the budget at this time. So, I’m looking around for a local piano teacher who needs a website and offer to build her one in exchange for a few lessons for the kids for me. :)

Ditto with Spanish “class”. I want to learn Spanish and I want the kids to learn too. I have a few Spanish speaking friends who are not teachers or tutors and have offered to barter or pay them a small fee for weekly lessons. Still working out the details on that. The ideas in this book have really stimulated my creativity.

Homeschool Your Child for Free

This hefty volume, also written by two homeschooling moms, is another awesome resource. Because it was published in 2000, it has many online tools and websites listed in its pages.

This book claims to have 1,200 resources listed for home educators, and I believe it. While the first book deals mostly in principles, this book has more specific recommendations.

It’s organized into the following sections: Curriculum Scope and Sequence; Education Essentials; Language; Mathematics; Art; History; Music; Social Studies; Humanities; Science; Health and then finally Graduation. This makes it easy to find the specific information you’re looking for.

Homeschool Your Child For Free would be a wonderful addition to any homeschooling parent’s library, a reference to pull off the shelf whenever you’re scratching your head wondering where you can find free information for your child on any particular topic.

For more homeschooling ideas, don’t forget to sign up for the free homeschool tips list!

Children Don’t Have to Be Coerced To Learn

August 11, 2008 | 5 Comments

Frequently when other parents find out I’m homeschooling (because I don’t advertise it) and the topic comes up in conversation (because they ask me questions, not because I’m a homeschooling evangelist), they say things like:

Oh, I could never do that.”

To which I reply,

It’s really not as hard as you think.”

You see, I really don’t like sparking people’s defensiveness, and homeschooling, along with homebirthing, is one of those topics that seems to bring out an emotional reactiveness in people. That’s why I don’t tell people either item unless they ask.

But they usually keep talking, again – to defend themselves. And they say things like:

Little Johnny would just fight me. I tried to teach him once and he just fought with me. He does much better with the teacher.”

I’m not denying what these parents experience. It’s pretty typical kid behavior – they behave better for strangers or other people than they do for us. But the fact that they do kind of tells you that inside, they are afraid. The reason they behave better for strangers is because they don’t know exactly where they stand. With us parents, they are sure of our love for them and therefore they know which boundaries to push and how far to push.

So they push. :)

But I’m getting off the point here. What I wanted to say is that, in my heart of hearts, what I really want to say to these parents, but I don’t say because again, I don’t want them to get defensive, is this:

When you back off, your kids will stop fighting you about learning. Kids do not have to be coerced to learn.

In fact you cannot STOP them from learning.

digging faux dino bonesphoto credit: woodleywonderworksCreative Commons License

This morning I was resting in bed at about 9:30. I had been awake since 6:30 and had cleaned up after breakfast, had a workout and a shower and was a little sore from yesterday’s workout, and so was sitting on my bed for a bit.

I’m usually a bit tired on Mondays after the busy weekend, and had not begun on any schoolwork with the kids yet. I was thinking of the errands I had to run later, and a coaching client who needed my attention, and how I was going to orchestrate my day .

Sadie joined me for a little snuggling. And I picked up my Crackberry to check messages. During this time I was suddenly struck by what my kids were doing. I even told my Twitter friends about it.

My 7 year old had come to me with a Lego structure he had created. He spends a few hours a day playing Legos. It’s probably his favorite activity. He will quietly come up with complicated Lego structures (not the kind with instructions, stuff he’s envisioned in his mind), usually rockets, airplanes, helicopters… he’s into aircraft and space.

I have no idea how this child makes these creations. I couldn’t recreate them for all the tea in China. And all this “child’s play” (really hate how that expression has come to mean a worthless activity, when we know that play is so very important!) has taught him principles of math – things like percentages and fractions, stuff we have barely begin to cover yet in 2nd grade. But he already understands it.

He came to me to show off his latest thing, a space shuttle complete with rocket boosters that fall away to earth after it takes off, a compartment (with windows all around) for the astronauts, fuel tank, a tether that attaches to the astronauts for their moon walks, etc. He couldn’t get the design quite right and expressed a little frustration (he might spend hours getting it just right), which led into a discussion about Thomas Edison, the biggest fail-er and also holder of 1,638 patents. (That put a smile on his face.)

My oldest had been outside for a nature walk or whatever he was doing, and found a large feather. He came inside and showed me, convinced it belonged to an Archaeopteryx or just maybe, a hawk. ;)

So he grabbed a big book on dinosaurs we had on the bookshelf and started reading it. Dissatisfied with that, he got online and started searching for pictures of Archaeopteryx features to compare his find to.

After he was satisfied, he headed for the couch and picked up his current read, a chapter book about Electricity and Magnetism.

No worries about homeschool science for the day. ;)

And my 5 year old had been “reading” American Girl books to her baby dolls. She kept asking me over and over what the girl’s name was. “Felicity“, I said. She will sit and tell me, her Grandmother, her baby dolls, whoever will listen stories she has made up and “written” in her book. (Looks like a lot of I’s, O’s, S’s and other letters she knows how to write well. Ask her to read her story to you and she will – hope you have the next 20 minutes free!)

Children love to learn and crave to learn. Just as they learn how to breathe after exiting the womb, learn how to breastfeed, learn how to crawl, learn how to walk, learn how to talk, etc.

The longer I go in this homeschooling journey the more convinced I become that my primary job is to create an environment conducive to learning, limit time sucks like Television and video games, be available to answer questions, point them to resources and helpers, set an example of lifelong learning, and then…

Get the Heck Out of the Way

The longer I go in this homeschooling journey, the less I concern myself with someone else’s timetables. I couldn’t care less whether my kids are “keeping up” with their peers in school.

The other day someone sent me a message asking me if I was worried that my kids were keeping up with their schooled peers. He was an older gentleman, and I couldn’t help but ask myself, “I wonder if he’s worried about keeping up with other 60 year olds?

I don’t mean to sound mean, but there was a misspelling in his message and I chuckled to myself that he wasn’t “keeping up” with me in the spelling department and I’m half his age. ;)

My kids are probably “behind” their peers in some things, and “ahead” of them in others. That doesn’t concern me. Their education is not a race. Besides, how they are educated is almost irrelevant in that conversation because the same phenomenon exists in school.

There is another problem behind this idea that children have to be forced to learn. I think that behind some of that fear is the belief that children are lazy.

I don’t believe that. Just because they don’t always want to do what we want them to do does not make them lazy.

It makes them people with minds of their own.

I’ve seen my kids work very hard, to the point of exhaustion, on something that is important to them.

Right after the dinosaur feather research was done, oldest decided of his own volition that the backyard needed tidying up. So, he rallied the troops (his brother and sister) and with trash bags in hand, headed outside to pick up paper and other trash.

(Am I lazy because I saw no need to clean up the backyard? When I will often stay up until 2 am to work so I can take care of my kids?) ;)

I’ll give you an example of what I mean by backing off and trusting kids to learn.

I’ve mentioned before that my 7 year old struggles with reading. It tires him out completely to read, and he doesn’t seem to enjoy it very much. Unlike my other kids, he never brought me a book and asked me to read it to him.

I can tell this makes other people a bit nervous, but I am not worried about it. I was at one point, though. I have to admit. I’m a big reader and reading is so important to me.

But after seeing his anxiety and stress about it, I realized I was going to make him hate reading if I pushed him. So I backed off.

The last time we went to the library, I showed him where the books were about space, astronomy, astronauts, planes, etc. He picked out several and we took them home. In the past few days, for the first time he has been asking me to read these books to him, and when I finish one, he complains that it was too short. :-)

Today I had him do a little reading and phonics work, and he was not at all resistant about it – probably because I decided to relax. He’ll learn to read well alright, when it’s important to him, and when he realizes that he needs to be able to read well in order to learn the cool stuff he wants to learn (like how to build solar panels, something he’s fascinated by).

And it will happen on his timetable, not mine.

Can you tell I’m reading John Holt again?

Who is Dr. Daisy?

August 5, 2008 | 2 Comments

Who exactly is Dr. Daisy? I will try to keep this brief so as not to bore you. Well, as you gathered my name is Daisy and I am a retired Chiropractor. I retired in order to home school my children. I have 5 children ages 5 to 17 and have been home schooling for over 10 years. I enjoy home schooling and want to be able to share some tips that have worked for me throughout the years. I will be sharing some of my tips here and you can also visit my site at Dr. Mommy Home School Tips for more. If there are any subjects you need suggestions for, feel free to leave a comment here and I will address them for you. My goal is to make teaching and learning fun and hope that my tips will simply the mysteries of home schooling.

Learning Styles – What is your child’s?

July 31, 2008 | 6 Comments

Since it’s almost “back to school” or “back to homeschool” (whatever the case may be) time for many of you, I thought I would share a report on learning style with you.

It’s pasted below, or if you prefer you can download the pdf file here: Learning Styles Report

Feel free to share it :-)

A Guide to Recognizing And Honoring Your Child’s Learning Style

Not All Children Learn The Same Way

Every parent knows that no two children are exactly alike, even if they’re twins. They may have some similarities, but these siblings may be totally different. One will like music while another likes sports. One will be content to sit and work word puzzles while the other will like to make things with their hands. These differences occur in the way they learn, as well.

Not all children learn the same way either, and teaching them equally might be doing a grave disservice to each child.

Some children will learn more efficiently by a hands-on approach, still others will learn best by verbal instruction, some might learn best by reading. If we, as parents, can learn how our children learn best, we will greatly enhance not only the quality of their education, but possibly the enjoyment they derive from learning.

Determining which learning style your child falls under may help you understand why they have problems with scientific equations but excel in the arts. It might also help you to know best how to encourage your child in learning tasks that don’t come easy for them. Most of all, discovering your child’s learning style will help you reinforce skills that will be important for success in life.

What exactly is a learning style?

Defining “learning style” isn’t as difficult as determining how many learning styles there are. In fact, depending on whom you ask or which report you read there is any number of learning styles. For the purpose of this report, however, a learning style will be defined as the sum total of individual skills and preferences that make up the way a person perceives, gathers, and processes information.

Learning styles affect every area of a person’s life – how they learn, whether or not they participate well in group activities, how they relate to others, how they solve problems, and the manner in which they work. Since children are different, they have their own bent in the way they learn. A learning style can also explain the different approach a person uses in order to learn effectively.

Learning styles are thought to be determined by three major pathways to learning: visual (sight), kinesthetic (movement, use of body, sensory), and auditory (sounds). Learning is also based on connecting perceptual pathways or three states of consciousness: conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.

Knowing your child’s learning style could help them in more than one aspect of life.

Not only could it make a difference in their actually learning a difficult subject easier, it may be that knowing their learning style could help them to enjoy the learning process much more than forcing them to learn to a style that is not their own.

Experts agree that learning styles are established in a child by the time they are seven years old. While it is possible for a child to strengthen one learning style over time, it is highly unlikely that their learning style will ever change entirely.

Children’s Learning Styles

There are two different models to be used for the purpose of this report. Both models base learning styles on visual, kinesthetic, and verbal.

Ms. June Griswold’s model also includes logic as a learning style where the Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic Learning (VAK) model does not list logic as a style at all.

If you would like to learn about other models for “learning styles,” you may want to Google it to learn more.

Ms. June Griswold, who taught in the classroom setting for 16 years, believed that identifying children’s learning styles could greatly improve a child’s learning experience. She felt that a teacher could adapt lessons in such a way that they could be taught to reach children in each style. If she was were able to teach to each learning style, she could help eliminate labels that some children are given.

She could also help people realize that just because a student learns differently it does not mean that the student is learning disabled.

Ms. Griswold studied two books by Thomas Armstrong and broke learning styles into four categories: visual (spatially oriented), kinesthetic (movement oriented), verbal (language oriented), and logical (analytically oriented).

She said children will generally have one dominant learning style, but could use a mixture of the four. If they could use each learning style, she felt they were more flexible in their learning, and would probably be successful in school. The following descriptions are based on Ms. Griswold’s research.

Visual (spatial) learner – This type of learner needs a chance to visualize things and learns well through images. They will be artistic, reading maps, and creating charts and diagrams. They will often be very interested in machines or inventions and trying to figure out how something works. They will be happy to sit and play with building toys such as Lego’s, and will also enjoy mazes or puzzles. They may come across as being a daydreamer. This definitely fits the learning style of my 7 year old!

To help a visual (spatial) learner, use games and memory aids to create a visual pattern. While they are reading, offer picture books, or if they’re reading chapter books, allow them an opportunity to visualize what is happening in a story. Encourage them to use arts and crafts to illustrate a story. Use colored pens, drawing, and computer work to help them excel at writing.

When it comes to math, you might want to emphasize manipulatives more than worksheets. With my 7 year old, I often use small Lego toys to illustrate math problems he’s challenged by.

Kinesthetic (movement) learner – This type of child will learn effectively if given the opportunity to move and be active. They are not able to sit still for long periods of time, and will use body language and hand gestures when talking. If forced to sit on their hands, a kinesthetic learner would shut down.

They need to show you how to do something rather than explain it. They love to touch things and are often natural-born actors. They may be labeled as having attention deficit disorder, but most of the time it is not the case. Quite often a kinesthetic learner will excel in sports.

Help a kinesthetic learner by giving them a chance to move about. Physical action, even if it is limited, will stimulate this student and help them do their best.

Allow the child to get up and move around some during class, particularly while reading. It might be a little bit disruptive, but the child will do much better than if being forced to sit still.

Give them an opportunity to do hands-on activities, arts and crafts projects, or acting out a story. Then sit back and watch the child bloom before your eyes.

Verbal (language) learner – This child thinks in words rather than being able to visualize something. They are naturally gifted at story telling and will have little trouble in spelling. They generally love to read and have an excellent memory of names, dates, and trivia. Quite often they are musically talented and enjoy word games.

The best way to encourage a verbal learner is to allow them to create word problems. Allow the child to dictate stories while you write or type them out. Tape record stories they tell and listen to them at a later date, or allow them to read stories aloud during class time.

Logical learner – A logical learner will enjoy patterns and relationships, seeing how things work, and may drive you to distraction with all of their questions. They are often capable of abstract thinking at an early age and will understand mathematics easily. They enjoy strategy games, computers, and loves to build.

Motivating a logical learner isn’t difficult. Allow them to play computer games, do word puzzles, and help with scientific experiments. Non-fiction and rhyming books will be appreciated. When reading fiction, explain to them the relationships between the people in the stories, and how the story can relate to real-life.

Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic Learning (VAK) model

The Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic Learning (VAK) model says there are only three types of learning styles that all people are going to fall into. This model says that everyone will fall into one of these models and that all three models can be used in a classroom to meet the needs of each style.

Visual Learner – The visual learner learns everything through seeing. They prefer to sit at the front of the classroom so they can easily see without obstruction. The visual student may think in pictures and will enjoy diagrams, illustrated books, videos, and hand-outs. They will generally take detailed notes during class, illustrate stories that they write, and use pictures to help them memorize facts.

Auditory Learner – The auditory learner will learn more easily through verbal lessons and anything that allows them to talk out what they are learning. They learn best by reading text aloud. Quite often the auditory learner will enjoy debates and discussions in class. They don’t mind making presentations and may use musical jingles or mnemonics to help them memorize facts. They enjoy dictating their ideas to others and may not enjoy writing.

Kinesthetic Learner – The kinesthetic learner will enjoy a hands-on approach or being able to move while learning. They have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time and may become disruptive if they aren’t allowed to get up quite often during the day. Boys are generally more kinesthetic in their learning style, but there are also girls in this style. They would need to take frequent breaks, will learn best by handling objects, and like to listen to music while they learn. They might also learn better if allowed to stand up rather than sit down during long lectures.

Why does a parent need to understand a child’s learning style?

Why is it important for a parent to understand the learning style their child falls into? The implications are rather obvious if you’re a homeschooling parent. In order to teach each child effectively, with minimal frustration, you need to understand how they learn best.

If you’re not a homeschooling parent, this information is still very useful. Understanding your child’s learning style allows you to help them when they have homework.

If your child’s teacher doesn’t work with them in their learning style, they may have problems in school. Being armed with this information can help you work out solutions with your child’s school and teachers. Knowing their learning style may help your child become interested in a new subject. You may be able to present information to your child in a way they will understand, and you will be able to help your child strengthen the learning styles that is not their own.

40% of all students fall into the visual learning style. 50% of children fall into the kinesthetic learning style and this is why they have difficulty learning in traditional school settings. The remaining 10% are auditory learners. The breakdown in learning styles is part of the reason most elementary schools combine the different learning styles in which to teach children. As students progress in grades, however, teachers will use auditory learning style in which to teach. Since only 10 percent of students are auditory learners that means the remaining 90% of students may have difficulty learning in the higher grades.

How do you determine your child’s learning style?

Reading through the descriptions, your child may jump out at you! But if you aren’t sure, try these tips:

Ask your child what they think of when someone says the word “dog.” If they are a visual learner, they will most likely develop a picture in their mind of a familiar dog, such as a pet or they will spell out the letters d-o-g. If you child is an auditory learner, they may describe a bark. If they describe the feel of the dog’s fur, they are most likely kinesthetic learners.

When learning a group of new spelling words, this is how you might help each type of learner: Visual learners will not be able to visualize the spoken word, so you might need to write the word out onto a white board while it is being spelled aloud. This tactic might help a visual learner learn more easily.

The kinesthetic learner might remember the new spelling word by spelling them out with blocks or being given a crossword puzzle with the new words in it. Auditory learners are most likely going to learn new spelling words phonetically or by creating a poem or song they could sing to learn to spell.

Is your child is having problems learning at school?

There are a number of options you may have to pursue. First, talk with your student’s teacher to see what method of teaching they use. If they teach using strictly lectures, rarely using overhead projections or worksheets, your visual learner may have problems as well as any student who learns kinesthetically. Try to find ways that you can present the information at home so your child may more easily understand and learn the subject matter.

If your child is failing in a number of subjects, it might be time to consider whether you should continue to work with your child at home and hope that your help will ensure success, you can pay to have your child tutored, or you can take your child out of the public school system and home school them.

Public schools are not set up to deal with each learning style all at the same time, therefore some children may suffer.

One benefit to home schooling, if you are able to do so, is that you can cater more to your child’s learning style, which might give them the educational success they may not have had so far.

Of course, home schooling isn’t for every family, just like teaching entirely by lecture isn’t for every child. The options for home schooling are varied, however, and will give your child many opportunities they will not get in traditional schools.

Through home schooling, you may be able to tap into your child’s learning style and see an entirely different student emerge.

Just the other week, a friend of mine was asking my 7 year old how he was doing. She was a schoolteacher for many years and has worked in the education system for a couple of decades. The reason she asked him this question was because she saw that he was having a hard time and getting exhausted with reading. When my son replied that he was tired, she gave him a hug.

I told her he was a kinesthetic learner and was having trouble with reading.

“He has to move things around with his hands. We use a lot of manipulatives for math,” I said.

Then she looked at me and said:

“Good thing he’s homeschooled!”

This surprised me because as someone who had worked in the system so long, my first thought was that she would be critical of the fact that at 7, he is barely reading. But instead she was happy.

“Schools do NOT cater to kinesthetic learners”, she replied.

Instead of using a traditional curriculum, you can use lapbooks and art projects which will cater more to the kinesthetic learner because they’ll be using manipulatives in the learning process.

If your child is an auditory learner, you can download audio history stories off the internet to help them learn.

If your child is a visual learner, traditional books and workbooks might be best. My oldest is like this. Reading and doing workbooks are easy peasy for him. In fact I often find him doing schoolwork late at night and on weekends with absolutely NO encouragement or input from me. That’s just his style.

Of course, with homeschooling you can allow them to learn at their own pace instead of having to remain at the pace the teacher sets. If your child is a quick learner, and has been frustrated by how slow public school classes are taught, home schooling may be the answer. If they have had problems because the teacher has covered a subject too quickly, home schooling will give you the opportunity to teach them at a pace in which they can learn the subject matter.

More ideas for determining which learning style your child has

One of the best resources for discovering your child’s learning style is a book most home school parents are aware of. The book, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias, has helped countless home school families find their children’s learning styles and then build success upon success by encouraging their children to learn in the way that suits them best.

If you would prefer to work entirely online, there are a number of assessments and tests that you can give to determine which learning style your child has. Running an online search for “learning style tests” may turn up some of the following:

  • Multiple-Intelligences Test

This is a series of short tests that breaks down the way your child acts or reacts on a number of different levels. These “intelligences” show your child’s giftings or where their talents lie.

They may help you to see where your child has strengths and weaknesses you’re unaware of, and help you to work with your child to improve those areas where they may be weak while giving you the opportunity to encourage those areas where they are strong.

  • The Index of Learning Styles

This is a free, online test that is used to determine if your child is active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, or sequential/global. It was developed by Richard M. Felder and Linda K. Silverman. Access it here:

  • Learning Styles Online

This website has a free Memletics learning style inventory online that will test your child to determine their learning style based on seven components – visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. Visit it here:

You may also find additional information about both Ms. June Griswold and the VAK model through online searches.

While these inventories and tests are not exhaustive, it will give you an idea of what types of tests are available to help you understand your child better. Discovering their learning style, whether they remain in the public school system or you decide to home school them, may make all the difference in the way they learn and their enjoyment of the subjects they learn.

Should a parent try to encourage a child’s learning style?

If you would like your child to succeed at school, the obvious answer is “yes” you should try to encourage a child’s learning style and even cater to it if at all possible. Not only will you enable your child to learn in a way that they are most comfortable, but fostering their unique learning style will also help them to retain the information they do learn.

How would a parent go about fostering a child’s learning style, though? And if it were so important, why don’t schools do this to ensure successful students?

The best way to foster a child’s learning style is first determine how your child learns best. Then you can create ways to help your child learn based on the style they learn most effectively with.

For example, if your child is a kinesthetic, spit-fire, always-on-the-go type of child, having them sit at a desk with a math text book will be torture. However, if you incorporate movement into their learning, they are going to learn the subject quicker and probably retain things much better. Perhaps you can have them clap out a rhythm when you teach them their multiplication tables. At the very least, letting them get up and walk around, clap or bounce a ball while doing their work will help.

Using the kinesthetic learner, here’s how you might be able to incorporate movement into mathematics. If you’re learning to multiply 2’s, you can toss a ball back and forth, starting with 1×2, the child would say 2 and toss the ball back to you. You would say another multiplication problem and then toss the ball to the child. They’d answer and toss it back to you. In this way, they are moving and learning to multiply at the same time. This method might also work with spelling, where you take turns spelling a word, one letter at a time.

The major benefit of teaching to a learning style is that the child is actually the one who wins. Instead of your child being forced to sit still, or possibly be subjected to taking attention deficit disorder drugs to calm them down during school hours, home schooling would enable a kinesthetic child to learn and thrive.

Home schooling can also be of benefit to children in the other learning styles. A verbal learner may prefer to read and learn for themselves instead of listen to someone else tell them what they should learn. This child may prefer to learn to spell by playing Scrabble or Boggle, which is highly unlikely to happen in the public school setting.

An auditory learner may retain what they learn better if they are allowed to watch a television program or listen to an audio book about a certain time in history. They can then create a report about what they’ve learned. Instead of having an auditory learner write out spelling words, why not allow them to spell them out loud to you? To teach multiplication, try having an auditory learner memorize “School House Rock” songs.

How often is a child permitted to listen to music while in school? Research has proven in the last 10 years that children retain more mathematics if there is classical music playing softly in the background. Teachers rarely use this method to help their students learn, though. Instead, teachers prefer the room to be quiet except for their own voices. How much more would children learn if they were given the choice of having music playing while they learn?

Teachers are now beginning to modify their teaching to allow for the different learning styles, but quite often they don’t succeed. Instead, children that learn differently are labeled as learning disabled, which is an injustice to the student. If a parent knows their child’s learning style, they may be able to help them learn to their learning style, and remove the stigma of that label.

Parents need to support their school’s efforts at incorporating more methods of teaching than just lectures. However, where the school may still fail, the parent can pick up the pieces and help their child to learn, especially if they understand their child’s learning style.

It’s true that children are all individuals and that they don’t all learn alike. If not all children learn equally it would seem the best tactic would be to discover how they learn and then teach them to their learning style. Give them the skills to excel, not only in school, but in life as well.

More Resources:

The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias

Making Math Fun – a collection of math board games, card games and more to teach your child math. This one would be great for visual, audio and kinesthetic learners.

Robot Reader Reading and Phonics Games – full color reading and phonics games to print directly from your computer – board games, card games, bingo games, and more.

Your Child’s Strengths – Review of this book on finding and maximizing your child’s unique gifts

What are your thoughts? How have you been able to discover your child’s learning style and how has doing so helped your child?

School Zone School Workbooks Review

July 25, 2008 | 3 Comments

School Zone Publishing Company got in touch with me recently about reviewing some of their workbooks, I was pretty stoked. Anything that can help a single homeschooling mom save money on stuff is good for me.

So now I get to tell you my honest opinions of these products. The 3 I got were the Math Readiness for P-K, Big Second Grade Workbook and 4th Grade Math Basics.

Interestingly, I already had the 4th grade math workbook. My oldest is doing it this summer and has a goal of finishing it up before September when he’ll be in 5th grade. (We don’t really “do” grades since I’m an eclectic homeschooler, but it seems important to him so more power to him!)

I like this workbook. Caleb has had no trouble with it. The examples and explanations have been easy for him to follow in order to learn the concepts and the problems are challenging enough to keep him engaged.

Ilana, my 5 year old, is doing the Math Readiness workbook. She’s enjoying it, although it’s a touch too easy for her so I’ll probably save it for her baby sister to use in a year.

Second Grade Big Workbook is my favorite of this package. My 7 year old has been doing it and he is really enjoying this book. I’m pretty impressed with how the lessons are designed. They’re very engaging to him, which is a bit of a challenge for a workbook because he is a kinesthetic learner and it’s been a bit of a challenge to get him interested in other worksheets.

This workbook has 320 pages so it could actually be the basic for an entire 2nd grade curriculum.

Two more School Zone workbooks I had purchased recently were the Counting 1 – 10 and Manuscript Writing for K – 2.

My 5 year old started working on some of the counting pages but I found they were too easy for her (the book says it’s for ages 4 – 6), so I’ll save that one for the youngest next year.

I do like the workbook, I just think it’s more appropriate for a 4 year old. The Math Readiness Sticker workbook is more her speed. It’s a little more challenging, and the stickers add an element of fun and interactivity.

Ilana is loving the K – 2 Manuscript Writing workbook.

This girl is my little artist and she loves sitting down to write her letters. These pages are proving to be good practice for my 2nd grader too.

One thing I like about them is there is not a lot of space for practice. I know that may sound counterintuitive to some, but I think it’s far better for a child to write a FEW letters WELL than to get fatigued and write the same letter badly, over and over.

It seems a better reinforcer for them to trace the letter then only have space to write it 3 or 4 times – when they’re more likely to write it neatly.

My 7 year old especially gets very frustrated when his writing isn’t perfectly neat, and he also fatigues easily so this workbook has proven to be better for him than the other one I had from Abeka.

So have you gotten a head start on your homeschool shopping yet?

How Can a Single Parent Homeschool?

July 16, 2008 | 3 Comments

One of the questions people ask me all the time is, how do you homeschool as a single parent? Obviously I have to work to earn a living too so it’s understandable that I would get this question.

For one thing, I started my business several years ago – and even though it was only part time income for me for much of that time, I still had a foundation laid that made it possible for me to earn a living from home with my business.

Another thing that helps is flexibility. Because we don’t take summers off, we’re able to keep a flexible homeschool schedule. My parents also help. My Dad spends a lot of time with the kids, and my Mom is helping with the 7 and 5 year old’s schooling when she is with them. That is a huge blessing!

I came across this excellent article from a homeschool advocate who has some suggestions for parents who think they can’t homeschool for one reason or another.

me and the kid
Creative Commons License photo credit: angela7dreams

Busy, Working Parents — 22 Ways To Homeschool Your Kids

Most home-schooling parents teach their children about two to four hours a day and turn out well-educated kids. So the problem is how to squeeze in about ten to twenty hours a week for home-schooling. Here are some suggestions:

1. Can you change your work schedule so that you can work in the afternoon or at night and teach your children in the morning?

2. Can you work part time, leaving yourself time for home-schooling?

3. Can you find a job in your local neighborhood so that you don’t waste one to three hours commuting every day?

4. Can you work from home? Computers, the Internet, fax machines, and e-mail all make working from home relatively easy. Thousands of companies now offer this option to their workers. You could of-fer to work for slightly less money if your boss resists this arrangement.

5. Can you start a simple-to-run home business that would give you more free time.

6. Can you do all your home-schooling on weekends? If you can arrange concentrated six-to-ten-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll be free to work at your job during the rest of the week. Or you might try a combination of weekday and weekend home-schooling sessions.

7. If you have no other alternatives, home-schooling could be done in the evening, say from 7 to 10 P.M., or a combination of weekday nights and weekend sessions. 8. If you’re married, get your husband or wife to help with the workload. Both parents should be in-volved in home-schooling if possible.

In my book, “Public Schools, Public Menace,” I describe 22 ways that parents can homeschool their children, even if both parents work. Almost a million parents now homeschool their kids, and most of these parents work. You can do the same.

About The Author: Joel Turtel of My Kids Deserve Better is an education policy analyst. He is also the author of “The Welfare State: No Mercy For The Middle Class.”

Any single parents out there who are also homeschooling? Want to share your success tips?

The Benefits of Homeschooling – from a Kid’s Perspective

May 28, 2008 | 4 Comments

My 9 year old son came to me the other day and said he wanted to write an article on the ten best things about homeschooling. I thought what he wrote was so interesting because it showed me what he values the most about the experience. Some of the things made me laugh too!

Other than assisting with opening up Microsoft Word and showing him how to use spell check, he did this on his own.

The Ten Benefits of Home Schooling 

1: Kids can get their chores done faster.

2: Some schools have a dress code but you can wear what you want when you are home schooled.

3: At school you have to sit down for SEVEN HOURS! Moreover, you can spend more time with your family. And that is the important thing.

4: You can save money because, you don’t have to drive your kids to school and you don’t have to spend money on school clothes or lunches.

5: There is not as much schoolwork to do. You can learn faster.

6: You can do your work at just about any time of the day.

7: Kids can learn at their own pace.

8: Kids don’t miss their favorite PBS show.

9: Kids can have more fun with mom and dad.

10: Kids don’t have to worry about bullies, mean teachers and not being able to go to the bathroom when they want to.

:-) My favorite was the “moreover”. Oh and the part about not missing CyberChase (his favorite PBS show). LOL!


Compulsory Schooling and Other Newfangled Notions

April 10, 2008 | 4 Comments

PhotobucketOver at the Moms Talk Forum, we are discussing the homeschooling – why? question. I’ve written before about my reasons for homeschooling before, and this is always a pet topic so I’ll dig a little deeper into just part of it: the fact that compulsory schooling is, in my opinion, a modern idea that has failed.

Here is a brilliantly written article on the subject that I read recently:

As the article mentions, the evidence points to the fact that compulsory (meaning government controlled and mandated) schooling did not improve the intelligence or productivity of Americans. In fact, the evidence shows that the opposite has happened. Especially among minority groups, minority is much lower ethan it was one hundred years ago in this country. American males who enlisted in the military in the 60’s were already far less literate than their Dads who enlisted in the 40’s. But it goes back much farther than that. In Colonial times, the average person was highly literate. The “bestselling” books back then were on a college reading level. Letters sent home to family from soldiers, children and other common folks showed a very high degree of eloquence and intelligence. Almost everyone could read and write and do sums well, even if they didn’t go to school at all.

A quote:

“Thus, the rise of public, or government, schools was not a response to an inability on the part of society to provide for the education of its children but rather a manifestation of what later came to be called the “Progressive” mindset, the belief that life increasingly needed to be subject to control by experts and central government planning”

The idea that my parents could be prevented from educating their own offspring using the police power of government is deeply disturbing. This is a right even the animals enjoy.

Compulsory-attendance laws can be criticized on many grounds. To start with the most basic, forced attendance cannot be squared with the notion of liberty on which the United States was founded. The late John Holt, a former school teacher and education writer, wrote,

“The requirement that a child go to school, for about six hours a day, 180 days a year, for about ten years, whether or not he learns anything there, whether or not he already knows it or could learn it faster or better somewhere else, is such a gross violation of civil liberties that few adults would stand for it. But the child who resists is treated as a criminal.(19)

That we do not regard the forced day-time internment as a violation of the child’s or parents’ rights only shows how thoroughly people have been propagandized by the advocates of the present system. The government says it has a “compelling interest” in the education of children. Too few people have been willing to reply in the manner of the Jimmy Stewart character in the movie Shenandoah: “These aren’t the state’s children; they’re mine.

Amen, Mister Stewart. I would go a little farther than that and say that don’t actually belong to me at all but to someone much higher than me, whom I have to answer to for how I treat them and raise them. They’re simply on loan to me for twenty years or so. ;) And that notion puts much more fear in my heart than anything Big Gubmint might do.

The article goes on to talk about Irresponsible Parents which is something that I know from talking with homeschooling opponents is part of their thought process. The argument is that “since some parents won’t be as responsible as you (talking about me personally), we need to have compulsory schooling.”

The article has a lot of great points to adress this. As I stated to someone the other day, I have strong opinions about how parents should feed their kids, but it sure isn’t my right to go into another’s home and remove their children or fine or jail the parents because they feed their kids hot dogs.

I highly recommend John Taylor Gatto’s books to anyone who wants to know the truth about the modern system of schooling and where it really came from. Among other things, the principle folks who influenced what we think of as school today were very unambiguous about what they were trying to accomplish. Strange as it may seem, they were vocal about wanting to produce a generation of good government and factory employees. Influenced by the Prussian system of educational philosophy, they started modeling schools after it.

That’s unnerving, idn’t it?

Organizing Arts and Crafts, Games and Chocolate

February 14, 2008 | 1 Comment

On Wonder Years Radio recently they discussed organizing arts and crafts and the kid’s schoolwork.

I thought I would share a tip that has worked well for me when it comes to organizing games. The cardboard boxes board games come in are notorious for falling apart and getting squashed, but they take up a lot of space too.

I took all my kid’s board games out of their boxes and stacked the folded up game board into ONE large flat Rubbermaid storage container. Then I took the pieces that go with each game and placed them in quart (or gallon if needed) size resealable plastic bags.

This system takes up far less space and the pieces stay together better too.414V046G2XL__SL160_.jpg

My kids are homeschooled so we have a LOT of paper, workbooks, school books around here. I have one of those 10 Drawer Chrome Rolling Cart Storage Room Organizer things. The colored drawers make it easy for the kids to find their stuff when it’s time for school seatwork. Each kid has two drawers – his or her favorite color so they can remember. They keep their workbooks and pencils in there. The casters make it easy to move around but they lock so it doesn’t move at the wrong time.

Next to that on a shelf there is a two drawer storage container. The top drawer has crayons, stickers, paints, colored pencils, etc. The bottom drawer has paper (usually it has print on the back of it that has come from my printer. LOL!)

When it comes to art work, it’s mostly my 4 year old that produces TONS of drawings and stuff. I have an agreement with her that the day’s masterpiece goes on the fridge. Extra stuff she wants to keep goes in a princess folder. What doesn’t fit in the folder goes in the trash. She is ok with this system. I couldn’t possibly keep every piece of artwork she creates. The girl is prolific. LOL

Works for us!

Moms Talk Radio

Frugal Friday: .25 Day at the Thrift Store

January 12, 2008 | 28 Comments

This post is actually about what I did *last* Friday, but I’m just now getting around to publishing this. My digital camera has decided to officially freak out and DIE, and I really wanted to post pictures of all the goodies I got, but alas, it’s not meant to be right now. Maybe later I’ll be able to update this post. :-) frugal friday thrift store shopping tips

What do you get when you cross $36 with $0.25 Day at the Thrift Store?

5 HUGE, kitchen trash bag size bags FULL of kid’s and mama clothes, books, a child’s desk and a gorgeous loveseat, and One very happy Frugal Mama. ;)

Note: If you are new to thrift store shopping, read more of my tips below after I describe my finds. If you’re a seasoned thrift store shopper, beware. Uncontrollable jealousy may ensue after reading this post!

Let me start by telling you why I love thrift stores. Firstly, I am cheap and I love the savings they offer (repeat after me: stick it to da man).

Secondly, I like buying secondhand stuff that somebody decided to go to the trouble of donating instead of chucking it into a landfill.

And third, (and this is a little known truth about buying kid’s clothes secondhand) I actually get better quality stuff at the thrift store. Before I lose some of you let me explain what I mean.

Have you ever bought a clothing item for your kids at a discount or department store, only to have it tear up in the wash the first time your kid wore it? I have too. The thing is, if the item in question has made it through one kid and many washes and still looks good when you pick it up at the T-store, it’s a quality garment that isn’t going to fall apart on you.

So there are my reasons. Here’s a brief summary of my thrift store history.

My Mom has always been a big thrift store shopper. When I was a kid, thrift stores were NOT the “in” thing to do. Mom was always ahead of her time, and she tried to sell her friends on the concept, but they just weren’t hip to it. When people would complement my mother on something she had on, she would say “Oh, I got it at a little boutique.” LOL!

When I was a kid she would drag me to the thrift store but I wasn’t that keen on the experience. I always had to pee the moment I walked in the door, no matter how recently I had just gone to the bathroom. Now I know that was due to a cat allergy, but at the time, it drove my mom a bit nuts. I did LOVE books however, and would immediately head to the book section, only to be dragged out an hour later by my mother.

When I was a teenager, thrift stores had become Cool. All the punk/mod/skater kids shopped at thrift stores in East Atlanta so they could find Ben Shermans, Fred Perry tennis shirts, old Doc Marten boots, trench coats, etc. All the rich suburbanite North Atlanta kids shopped at thrift stores so noone knew they were rich suburbanite kids. LOL! By that time I was old hat at thrift store shopping thanks to my mother, so my girlfriend and I would head to the thrift stores intown to seek out old vintage Nikes, those cute girly cut 70’s style t-shirts, and vintage dresses and coats. Back when I was a size 2/4 and didn’t have mom boobs and could actually fit into vintage dresses and coats. LOL!

Then when I became a mom, I shopped at thrift stores so I could find those snazzy cloth diapers that cost $10 or more a pop on eBay. Now with 4 kids, thrift store shopping is a bit of a necessity. I simply cannot imagine why anyone would NOT shop at thrift stores occasionally.

So. Here’s what I got last week when a nearby thrift store had $.25 day. Ready?

For 2 year old Sadie:

  • 2 summer dresses
  • 1 summer skirt
  • 6 short sleeved casual shirts

For 4 year old Ilana:

  • 2 summer dresses
  • 9 skorts
  • 11 short sleeved casual shirts
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 cardigan sweater
  • 1 dressy wool overcoat for next winter with dry cleaning tags still in it

For 6 year old Julien:

  • 4 short sleeved shirts (Polo style, ringer tees)
  • 1 long sleeved t shirt
  • 4 pairs of pants

For 9 year old Caleb:

  • 4 short sleeved shirts (Polo, ringer tees)
  • 1 long sleeved dress shirt
  • 1 pair of jeans

For 32 year old Mama:

  • 1 black leather Liz Claiborne bag in like new condition
  • 1 black leather handbag also looks like new
  • 8 short sleeved shirts, some casual, some dressy for Summer
  • 1 long sleeved dressy sweater
  • 1 pair of blue corduroy jeans that fit like a glove

I also got 18 books (some of them for homeschooling: Science, planets, weather, a few fiction works like Sounder, a couple rare Dr. Seuss books, a nice DK book about Space Travel, a book about the Amish, etc.), an Art set with paint that hardens so you can make sculptures with it which J and I immediately dug into, a kid size white antique writing desk for Ilana for her to sit and do art at, an the piece de resistance, a gorgeous loveseat that complements the other one I have that sits opposite in the living room. It was $10 and in perfect condition, not a spot anywhere on it.

Can you believe I got all this stuff for $36? If you haven’t figured it out already, every item of clothing was .25 each. (The desk and loveseat were half off regular price.) Almost everything I bought for the kids was Gap, Old Navy and The Children’s Place. Some of the items I got looked like they had been worn once, washed and tossed aside. It just amazes me that people will spend top dollar for new kid’s clothing then discard it before it has a chance to get a stain on it! Everything I got was spotless with no missing zippers, buttons, or flaws.

Ok, so now that I’ve regaled you with my finds, here are my tips for navigating the thrift store shopping scene.

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

1) Get to know your local T stores

If you don’t know what thrift stores are in your area, just look in the phone book or Google it. A lot of T stores have websites these days, and those are great to visit because they often have coupons you can print out.

For example, here in Atlanta we have Last Chance and America’s Thrift. We also have several Goodwill and Salvation Army and other smaller, independent stores. There are advantages to both. The larger stores are cleaner and more organized, but the smaller stores often have lower prices and better deals. The scenario I described above happened at a small Thrift store a few miles away from me that gives its profits to a local children’s home. I like supporting it because it’s for a good cause too. Keep in mind that some of the thrift stores may be donating to causes that don’t jive with your personal beliefs, so it’s good to check them out first.

Goodwill stores are among the cleanest and most organized. The clothing in the store is laid out by color which is nice if you’re looking for something in particular, but their prices are higher so you pay for that convenience.

thrift store shopping tips2) Finding Great Deals

As I mentioned, you can search for websites where you can print coupons to use inside the store. Also, most thrift stores have discount days. Call them up and ask what the schedule is like. Last Chance has Half Price Mondays where… you guessed it, everything in the store is half price. They open at 8:30 am here and if I get there at 8:15, a line has started at the door, rain or shine, even in the dead of winter. They even print up T shirts that say “I Survived Half Price Day at Last Chance”!

Some of them have loyalty cards, where you get a hole punch when you spend a certain amount, then when the card is full you get a few bucks off. Other stores have a color coded system where the color of the tag indicates the price reduction. So some days you’ll walk in and all pink and yellow tags, for instance, are half off.

Keep in mind that just because you’re at a thrift store doesn’t mean you’re getting the best price! Especially a few years ago when a lot of people got hip to thrift, they started raising prices like crazy. It wasn’t unusual to go in and see a pair of Gap jeans marked over $10. Get real! I can get jeans brand new at Old Navy right now for $8, why would I spend more for used? But $0.25? Oh, yeah. That’s definitely my style. :)

3) Be Organized

Thrift stores can be a little overwhelming. Or maybe it’s the dust that goes to your head, I don’t know. ;) But if I walk in with no idea of what my kids need I get totally lost. I find it helpful to write down what I’m looking for before I go in. So I’ll have a list that says:

Sz 6 Boy – Pants
Sz 4 Girl – Shirts
Sz 2 Boy – Dressy shoes
Me – Black skirt

… or something like that so I can be focused. Oh, and leave the kids at home! I don’t like mine pawing all over dirty toys.

Another thing to keep in mind that unlike a regular retail store, you’re not going to walk in and find clothing in the season you need, always. Often you will, but those items get picked up first. So I find that I do best when I try to think ahead and buy what the kids need for the next season. That makes that little list I mentioned even more important.

Just give it a shot! You can find some incredible deals. My kid’s homeschool curriculum has been almost entirely designed from stuff I’ve gotten at thrift stores. For example, two weeks ago I bought 4 BRAND NEW, untouched Abeka books. One on cursive handwriting, one math and two vocabulary/language arts. I have gotten clothing with the store tags still hanging on the item, and dress clothes with dry cleaning tags still inside. I’ve found brand new shoes and other really nice stuff. You never know what you’re going to find, you just have to be willing to do a little digging.

So there you have it!

Got any awesome thrift store deals or tips to share? Post them in the comments below.

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