There’s a bit of a myth that home education is for wealthy (mainly white) middle class people. Those who come out with the comment always seem to resent the idea for some reason. This is coupled by the entitlement-dependent notion that the Government should be in charge. The same kind of people live with what Douglas Adams called the SEP field (Somebody Else’s Problem) which means someone else should deal with it.
As it happens I don’t know many wealthy home educators. Every family I know are trying to live on one wage for a start so that’s unlikely to make anyone wealthy around this neck o’the woods.
So what about those of us who aren’t wealthy (relative to the UK). How do we home educate? Do we abide by the principle of subsidiarity that I keep harping on about?
Some do. Some don’t. That’s life. The families I work with do and make massive sacrifices to home educate. We do without and we get into a bit of debt.
For my frugal home ed I begin with a jar. Into the jar I put some of my weekly housekeeping to save for resources I want to buy. It includes saving up for trips out.
We are very blessed to have a car thanks to someone’s kindness. It has been adapted so I can drive it. (I paid for that out of my DLA) and has enough seats for the whole family or to allow me to give a lifts to another family or other HE children who need it.
I keep an eye on what books and resources we need or are going to need and I price watch. I rarely buy anything a full price and usually get a good discount buying second hand or during “special offer” times. If I buy ahead I lend out to other families whose children are older. They give me books and resources their children have used and finished with.
I wish the local library was good-but on the whole it’s naff. If you are fortunate with your library and it’s book ordering service-go there before buying. But be cautious, even in children’s sections there are dodgy books.
What do I mean by dodgy? Well, to begin with there is a lot of what Miss Mason would call twaddle. Books with poor grammar, story lines that encourage rudeness and disrespect for parents and a shocking number of ‘stupid dad’ stories. That’s before you get to the agenda driven books that are often trying to force a rather dark worldview on children. So, tread carefully. Read ahead if you can or get recommendations from people you trust who have.
As I’ve been a mum for over 20 years I have accrued a lot of books, games and toys that are handed on or handed out. If you are just starting out and facing a lot of home ed bills seek out mums like me that have been parenting and home edding for a while. Ask and you might receive- if we have it and are not using it.
Clothes: we pass children’s clothes around the families. We seem to have children all spaced out just right for this! How convenient!
If I need something I ask other families if they have it first. I make sure they know what I have too. Sometimes people who are more mobile than me (and have time) will check out charity shops. I’ve been given some good stuff that way.
I worked as a seller for Usborne books for a while and got nearly £200 of free books thanks to that.
I have been given books, money, science kits, and other stuff and have given it out.
An expensive investment (even a cheap one) is a computer. Shop around, get advice, look at reconditioned ones and don’t buy the fancy sort. A bog standard computer will allow you to do most things you want to for study. Time buying it so you know how long it will take to pay it off. If you have a way of just buying one outright that’s better of course. Look for interest free deals as well. But read the small print!
The other way we save is thanks the the Wholesaler Costco card we have. Costco and I am sure Makro and other such places sell a lot of useful consumerables that home edders need such as computer inks, papers, glues, paints, construction paper etc.
If you can’t get such a card try and do a deal to share with someone who does have one. With our families we just tend to share and share about. So I might supply endless amounts of glue and paint but other mums supply glitter bits, printed sheets and food for the shared lunch.
As far as I can see older children and teens cost more to educate. You’ll have to decide how much you can give up or how much debt you can deal with in making decisions about this. We are paying for Open Uni at the moment and now that Alex has no work there’s the last of his driving lessons.
Driving lessons are a toughie when you are living as frugally as possible. Youngsters do not automatically need to be able to drive or own their own transport. However you may be in a situation (like Alex) where a driving license will massively enhance his getting work placements and work opportunities. Also he’s got almost to the test so it would be a huge waste of his hard earned money and time if we ditched it all now.
This post follows on from my post on SUBSIDIARITY and taking care of our family and community.