How To Set Up a Home School Successfully & Budget-Friendly

After 10 months of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, most schools remain closed and you may have become a full-blown teacher. Trying your best to keep your kids on a schedule will keep them on pace for when they’re able to go back to the classroom. It may not have been in the plans, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget! 

Legislation for a second stimulus check just passed and adult individuals are getting $600–with a possibility to increase to $2000–as well as dependents under 17 years old. This stimulus relief can be used to cover schooling, books, and other technology needed for online learning. Get your stimulus checks faster when you set-up direct deposit to your RoarMoney account.

Below we’ve made a step by step guide on how to homeschool successfully on a budget.

Step 1: Use Your Current School Resources 

Parents all over the world are being called to step up and fill the education void with limited to no experience. Schools have set up a virtual curriculum for children from Pre K – 12th grade via zoom classes and online homework. At this point, most schools and local libraries have lent out computers for the kids to rent out until they’re able to attend class in person. 

Temporarily free, heavily discounted internet and free wi-fi hotspots are being offered by companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Spectrum. These companies offer low-income internet programs if you qualify for NSLP, SNAP, PBRA, Medicaid, SSI, public housing, and more. Lifeline is a federal program that assists the internet costs up to $9.25. Head over to LifeLine to find out more details.  

Many libraries are extending their WiFi range into parking lots, school bus hot spots and supplying wifi into their lending devices like iPad and laptops. Check your local library district to see what’s available for you. 

Step 2: Alternative Learning Programs 

If your school district doesn’t have the capacity for online learning or it conflicts with your work schedule, look into free or paid programs and resources. Programs such as Scholastics Learn At Home, K12, Time 4 Learning, Edx, or Calvert Homeschool all offer a free trial or paid program at all education levels. If you are looking to customize the course work, Teachers Pay Teachers is an online platform with over 3 million free and paid pdfs and resources. 

The widespread disruption of the novel coronavirus has left parents all over the world trying their best to figure out how to navigate at-home learning. Parents of children with autism, disabilities, or special needs have been greatly impacted by the removal in classroom learning.

Autism Speaks is leading the COVID-19 Autism Research Community Task Force and they have come up with a comprehensive list of evidence-based tools to aid parents, caregivers, and children continue learning.

For Spanish-speaking students, Academons is offering free access to 20,000+ learning games for primary students in all subjects. Last but not least is the Encantos Learning Hub. This program is a bilingual resource with education learned through cultural and diversified 21st Century Skills from digital and physical subscriptions. You can sign up today for a free 7-day trial and followed by $6.99/month or $57.99 for 12 months!

College-bound juniors and seniors could get a headstart from Coursera and Udemy free and paid courses available from colleges like Stanford, Duke, and the University of Michigan.

Step 3: Create a Learning Space

The biggest misconception with homeschooling is that you have to create a classroom in your home. If that works best for your family and you have the means of being able to do so, great! But, for most, they don’t have the time or funds to spend hundreds of dollars on classroom furniture and materials.

If your kitchen table is the only space available, set up a clean and organized space at your table with no distractions, and you’ll do just fine. Be sure to have the basic tools your child needs: pencils, books, paper, headphones, a computer (borrow from school or library if needed), access to Zoom and Google Classroom, etc. 

Want to know our favorite simple tip to create a healthy homeschool environment? Playing classical or instrumental film score music in the background will set a relaxing tone and has been found to encourage memory retention. Calm Radio offers a free holistic music experience to increase your productivity with unlimited classical, jazz, and sleep music.

Step 4: Continue Sticking to a Schedule

The last 10 months might have been a modge podge of trial and error home-based education for your kids and that’s okay! Figuring out a homeschool schedule with the ever-changing news is exhausting, especially if you’re a working parent. While this is easier said than done, having a routine and expectation in the household will make everyone’s life easier. 

Every Sunday, create a weekly schedule, display and share it with your children, and be flexible if things come up. Including tasks like field trips, errands, meal prepping, or recipe planning for the week. The night before, lay out everything needed for the next day, and you’ll wake up to less chaos. Have patience with yourself and your children, you’re all doing your best! 

Most children can finish their schoolwork in half the time it would normally take at school given the absence of socializing, recess, and extracurriculars like library, art, and gym. That extra time means you can designate them to chores, free time, extracurricular activities, outdoor play, and family time. 

If you’ve been doing the virtual learning or homeschool shuffle for a while now, you might be annoyed if your kids complain about the schedule and home responsibilities, but the feeling of completing tasks will start to feel rewarding. 

Remember, you aren’t stuck to a strict school schedule. Do what works for your family, and that might change from kid to kid. And if rewards work and you can swing it, go for it!

Step 5: Don’t Forget the Extracurriculars 

Extracurricular activities and movement are crucial during these continued unknown times. Everyone, including parents, need the physical and mental health benefits of exercise and creativity. Make sure to put physical education, creative outlets, and fun into your child’s routine. 

Explore what your kids love and what their interests are. This is the perfect time to encourage self-exploration and healthy hobbies. From coding to Spanish, you can find free courses on Coursera and DuoLingo. 

If your child’s sports team is on hold, replace it with these virtual training apps for youth in the apple and google play store:

  • HomeCourt
  • Techne Futbol
  • Rack Performance
  • SmartCoach Basketball Training
  • TopYa! Soccer
  • DribbleUp Soccer
  • DribbleUp Basketball  

For younger children, Cosmic Kids Yoga and Moovlee is a great approach to meditation and practicing mindful movement. 

Is your kiddo the next Jimmy Hendrix? Guitar company Fender is offering 50% off an annual guitar, bass, or ukulele lessons online. 

If your kid loves to cook, teach them about measurements and ratios while making dinner. The options for fun and learning are endless!

Step 6: Utilize Education Based Screen Time

While putting your kids in front of a screen may seem counterproductive, there are intentional online education-based resources that are beneficial. Check out ABC Mouse, Khan Academy, or Curiosity Stream. 

From Pre-K reading lessons to science documentaries, there’s more than enough free or cheap resources to add to your arsenal. You can set a timer for screen time and have your children do a small quiz or short recap essay at the end.

For younger children, learning alongside them and asking questions throughout is a good way to keep their attention and help them retain information. 

Step 7: Stay in Contact With Your Child’s School and District

Make sure you are keeping up to date with changes in your school district. Plans for reopening our communities and schools are going to come in phases with plenty of guidelines differing by districts or counties. Keeping continued communication with your child’s teachers and school is imperative. 

If there isn’t an easy form of communication happening, create one! Look to create an email chain, Facebook page, or weekly virtual PTA meeting. Not only will this allow everyone to be on the same page, but it will also give you a designated time and place to ask questions. It could be organized by grade, teacher, or school. Having a community to connect with might help with the overwhelmingness of it all. 

Effective Homeschooling On A Budget

Meeting the education demands while being the parent, counselor, maid, and chef tends to get a bit stressful. Don’t allow it! If you’re thinking that the virtual classroom set-up your child’s school provided isn’t working for them or your family, switch it up and try one of the programs we’ve discussed.

The reality is this: every child is different and they learn at a different pace and capacity. Keep your child’s individual needs and attention span in mind and continue to grow from there. 

Preparation and patience are the names of the game! Look for teachable opportunities through disciplining your child because they’ll continue to happen … often. You’ve likely had your fair share of meltdowns, forgetfulness, and laziness creep up. Have grace with yourself and your kids; it’s your job to keep the sanity intact! 

Who knows, this year may have opened your eyes to the flexibility and freedom of homeschooling and your child or family may be thriving. Education doesn’t stop in the classroom and the possibilities are endless!

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